Opening Remarks by UNDP Resident Representative
Solemn event in celebration of 30th anniversary of adoption of Constitution
May 10, 2023
Salamatsyzdarby urmattuu bugunku saltanattuu kundun biyik darajaluu katysch-chular !
Honorable Mr. Shakiev, Toraga of Jogorku Kenesh of Kyrgyz Republic
Your Excellency Mr. Zhaparov, Chair of Cabinet of Ministries of Kyrgyz Republic
Excellency, Mr. Rogov, Head of OSCE Center in Bishkek
Distinguished members of the Parliament, Government, and invited guests
It is a great honor for me to be part of today's solemn occasion and I thank you for inviting me to address the Assembly. On behalf of the United Nations Development Programme, I express our deepest respect and heartfelt congratulations to the Parliament, Government, and to the people of Kyrgyzstan on the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic!
The Constitution of independent Kyrgyzstan has shaped the political, economic, and social landscape of Kyrgyzstan over the past three decades. It sets the frame for all aspects of public life and defines democracy as power belonging to the people.
The constitution provides that human rights and civic freedoms are recognized and guaranteed in accordance with the universally recognized principles and norms of international law, as well as international treaties to which the Kyrgyz Republic is a party to. These are Kyrgyzstan’s voluntary commitments to the international community and to its own citizens.
Naturally, human rights are central to the 2030 Agenda and realization of the Sustainable Development Goals. In fact, over 90 percent of the goals and targets of the SDGs correspond to human rights obligations.
So as Member States make progress on the SDGs, they make progress on their human rights obligations – they are two sides of the same coin.
And the constitution lays the foundations for an inclusive state, one that fosters equality between women and men, and the empowerment of minorities. In his speech marking Constitution Day on 5th May, President Japarov stated that today’s main task for the country is the strengthening of universally recognized democratic convictions and guarantees of human and civil rights and freedoms, and, importantly, he underscored that the state must strive to ensure the civil liberties and rights of all our citizens, including women, children, and people with disabilities.
The constitution is a fundamental social contract between the state and its citizens, that serves to guarantee that the basic human rights endowed on every human being at birth will be upheld and respected by the state. Accordingly, the constitution should reduce inequality among groups, and prevent discrimination on any ground. Put simply, the constitution is the foundation for a peaceful, just and inclusive society, and an important instrument in the work of parliament.
In a functioning democracy, Members of Parliament have a critical role in representing the people and in giving voice to all people. To have full legitimacy as representatives of local constituencies, members of parliament must represent this voice and work as a force for peace, tolerance, acceptance, and respect for diversity.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Today we recognize not only the road traveled, but also the road that lies ahead. Kyrgyzstan today is a diverse, multiethnic, multilingual, and multireligious country, a modern society filled with global economic and ecological aspirations combined with strong traditional interests. Kyrgyzstan has made strides in building a democratic and inclusive society, but there is still work to be done to ensure that the benefits of development are shared equitably among all segments of the population.
Notwithstanding important economic progress, as many as one-third of the country’s population is living below the poverty line. And new challenges such as climate change is wreaking havoc on the stability of natural resources, uprooting the resilience of communities. Generations of young graduates have few other career opportunities other than migrating for work. The SDGs were never more relevant or pressing, because many people are still at risk of being left behind.
At this juncture, Parliament can play its constitutional role to promote equality and inclusion and ensure that the most vulnerable members of society are heard; it must also ensure, as article 37 of the constitution provides, that citizens can participate in managing the affairs of society and the state both directly and through their representatives; that everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly; and that, as article 63 prescribes, laws that restrict the freedom of speech, the press and the media may not be passed.
In effecting new laws on civil and political rights, it is the duty of parliament to generate laws that protect civic space and freedoms that protect free assembly and freedom for civil society to self-organize as they choose; that enable the freedom of expression and remove impediments to free speech; and that help people to effectively understand and meaningfully participate in the affairs of the state.
Looking ahead, we recognize the importance of continued investment in the Kyrgyz national Parliament as a cornerstone of the country's democratic governance and in enforcement of constitutional provisions. It is important that Parliament itself continue investing in the capacity of committees to conduct business in a rules based manner and in line with the intent of the constitution. Ultimately, parliament must uphold and be the guarantor of rule of law in the country, which begins with upholding, preserving, and further improving the rules within the institution itself.
In closing, we welcome and highly appreciate President Zhaparov’s appreciation towards international partners in support of Kyrgyzstan’s efforts to strengthen democracy, the rule of law, and economic development.
I end by reaffirming that UNDP remains committed to support the Kyrgyz Republic in its journey towards a more sustainable and prosperous future and in its efforts of building a more inclusive society, in line with the highest values defined in the Constitution.
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