After gaining independence, Uzbekistan became a state member of the United Nations in 1992. In October 1993 the UN opened its office in Tashkent.
Currently there are eleven UN programs, funds and agencies in Uzbekistan: UNAIDS, UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNODC, UNRCCA, UNV, UN Women, WHO, and The World Bank. Their focus is on two objectives, “to support government in advancing economic and democratic reforms,” and “strengthening and fostering the participation of civil society in development processes at national and local levels.” Each of the departments has their own thematic areas as well. UNDP, for example, focuses on three areas:
- Economic governance and poverty reduction;
- Environment and energy;
- Democratic Governance.
The United Nations office in Uzbekistan has their own webpage, http://www.un.uz/en/.
They are also active in social media and have their presence on Facebook and Twitter.
The UN-Uzbekistan webpage offers different reports and publications available on their website. Reading the UN in Uzbekistan publication from Autumn 2015, one cannot help but notice the overall optimistic and somewhat neutral tone of the reports. Furthermore, the publication does not inform the reader about any critical issues that need to be addressed.
The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon visited Central Asia in summer 2015 and while he was impressed by the region’s economic development, he clearly expressed his concerns about “growing human rights abuses” in the region, specifically in Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. He noted Uzbekistan’s efforts in eliminating child labor in the cotton sector and said that “more must be done to address the mobilization of teachers, doctors and others in cotton harvesting.” Since the child labor became legally prohibited, the government found a way around it, forcefully sending teachers and doctors to the cotton fields for a month under a threat of dismissal or a fine in the “amount equal to almost half their wages.”
In his remarks, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also expressed his concern regarding “maltreatment of prisoners” in Uzbekistan. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch submitted a memorandum on treatment of prisoners and human rights violations to the UN prior to Ban Ki-moon’s visit to Central Asia (links to documents and video under sources) urging him to address this issue.
Even though the Secretary General visit was considered quite a big and significant event for the region, none of the Uzbek TV channels aired his remarks. The UN-Uzbekistan Facebook and Twitter page did not relay the Secretary General key points on human rights either.
Oybek Abdimuminov, Uzbekistan and The United Nations (2015), Himalayan and Central Asian Studies, Vol. 19, Nos 3-4, July-Dec. 2015, 182-194.
Zabikhulla Saipov, Uzbekistan and the “Illusion of Stability” (June 19, 2015), The Diplomat. Retrieived from http://thediplomat.com/2015/06/uzbekistan-and-the-illusion-of-stability/
FIDH Press Release, The UN Calls on Uzbekistan to Address A Long List of Women’s Rights Violations (February 12, 2015). Retrieved from https://www.fidh.org/en/region/europe-central-asia/uzbekistan/the-un-calls-on-uzbekistan-to-address-a-long-list-of-women-s-rights).
Human Rights Watch Memorandum to Ban Ki-moon regarding the UN Secretary General’s trip to Central Asia https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/06/08/hrw-briefing-memorandum-submitted-ban-ki-moon
United Nations in Uzbekistan http://www.un.uz/en/
United Nations in Uzbekistan Publications http://www.un.uz/en/publications
Amnesty International article on treatment of prisoners in Uzbekistan https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/campaigns/2015/04/uzbekistan-stop-torture/
Amnesty International Video Campaign to Stop Torture in Uzbekistan