Excellency Deputy Speaker of the Jogorku Kenesh of the Kyrgyz Republic, Mr Mirlan Bakirov,
Excellency Deputy Speaker, Ms. Aida Kasymalieva,
Excellency, Ambassador of the Switzerland, Mdm Veronique Hulmann,
Representatives of the Government,
Distinguished guests; Honorable Members of Parliament, scholars and international representatives from several countries in Europe and Central Asia region,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning and a warm welcome to you all!
On behalf of United Nations Development Programme, I am delighted to welcome you to the International Seminar on Strengthening Parliamentary Oversight in the Kyrgyz Republic. This is a timely and relevant topic at this juncture in the history of this wonderful country, and we are glad that you have all chosen to be with us here today.
I want to begin by commending the Jogorku Kenesh and the Apparatus for our outstanding cooperation on Strong and Inclusive Parliamentary Democracy. It is a joy and privilege for UNDP to work with you in this endeavor, and we greatly appreciate your trust and enthusiasm.
I also wish to extend our sincere appreciation to Ambassador Hulmann and the Government of Switzerland for critical financial support to this effort and for effective technical cooperation in promoting a stronger system of parliamentary democracy.
Let me also extend a particularly warm welcome to our international guests, some who have travelled far to be here with us today. We have experts with us from Georgia, Serbia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, among others. We look forward to reflections of your country’s experiences with the oversight functions in your respective national parliaments.
Thank you also to the Open Government Partnership, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and Kyrgyzstan’s own Adilet Legal Clinic, who have all worked very hard together with us to organize a very high quality event. We appreciate your passion and commitment in promoting accountable, responsive and inclusive governance.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
As you know, Kyrgyzstan opted for a parliamentary system of governance at its independence in 1991, and is one of the world’s younger – and one of the most dynamic – democracies. The departure point for today’s seminar are a series of key events in Kyrgyzstan’s progressive transition to a full parliamentary democracy, including constitutional reform in 2010; Kyrgyzstan’s 2015 and 2017 parliamentary and presidential elections, which for the first time were largely recognized by both national and international observers as being peaceful, fair and transparent; Accession of the country to the global governance platform of Open Government Partnership in November 2017; and, most recently, the adoption of the Jogorku Kenesh National Action Plan under the framework of the Open Parliament Initiative of the OGP.
These milestones have been widely acknowledged as solid country commitments to further strengthen accountability, bring about a more inclusive dialogue, foster stronger citizens’ engagement in decision making processes, as well as more effective government transparency and responsiveness, including invitation of independent and public evaluations of national development progress. Beyond commitment, the time has now come for the Jogorku Kenesh members and staff to implement these commitments, and it is in this spirit we approach the seminar.
I am pleased to say that UNDP, as the largest implementer of parliamentary strengthening programmes in the world, assists more than 60 national parliaments in promoting and monitoring implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and providing forums for national dialogue and policy making processes; enabling citizens to express views, voice their concerns and demand accountability.
The existence of an effective democratic oversight institution, mandated by the people to monitor the management of state affairs by the government, and to hold the government accountable for its actions in the public interest, are fundamental for a society to establish and uphold the rule of law, protect human rights, oversee transparent governance processes, and ensure the implementation of international norms and obligations.
Simply put, parliament must be well informed and supported by a strong knowledge base to effectively represent the collective interests of the general public. It must also create a governance process that reflects the inclusion of women, ethnic groups, and all parts of the country. For a parliament ultimately has the role to ensure that no one is left behind, and to oversee that country development
strategies pay attention to and address the needs of the poor and disadvantaged.
Ladies and gentlemen, in this context I want to mention another milestone of the democratic context in Kyrgyzstan, the decision by the President, underpinned by the constitution and electoral law, to institute a quota of minimum 30% women candidates in local elections. Strengthening inclusion at local levels will also help to improve representation at national level; women not only have an inalienable human and constitutional right to participate in political life, they bring additional perspectives and quality to decision making, and they are capable members of local and national councils. The UN strongly endorses the greater inclusion of women – half of Kyrgyzstan’s population – in the country’s democratic process, and we look forward also to more inclusive outcomes in next year’s parliamentary elections.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Parliamentary oversight is critical for countries’ progress toward achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In fact, the 2030 Agenda clearly acknowledges the essential role of national parliaments in enacting relevant laws, adopting relevant budgets, and ensuring accountability for implementation to reach targets. This includes a responsibility to promote and adopt people-centered policies and legislation to ensure that no one is left behind.
Parliaments therefore have a critical role to play in strengthening the quality and content of a national discourse on development priorities such as economy and climate change; they also oversee that sufficient country resources and efforts are invested in addressing inequality, and that plans are made to bring those left behind into mainstream development. We commend the Government of Kyrgyzstan for its commitment to present a Voluntary National Report to the UN General Assembly next year, and the UN Country Team will support the country to produce relevant data and information for this purpose.
Today’s seminar will contribute global and regional experience also on how parliaments can contribute to strong national SDG processes, as additional impetus to enhance parliamentary outreach, boosting dialogue, and increasing public trust in this critical institution.
I will close by affirming that UNDP together with other entities of the UN system stands ready to continue working with the Jogorku Kenesh and all key stakeholders in enhancing national reforms and strengthening parliamentary democracy.
Distinguished participants, welcome again to this exciting seminar. Thank you for being here, thank you for listening. I wish you strength, happiness and a very successful seminar!