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A look at the activities of NGOs: what is changing?

Thursday, 13 October 2022

In recent years, consistent reforms have been implemented in our country to support non-governmental non-profit organizations and other institutions of civil society and guarantee their freedom of activity, strengthen social partnership between state bodies and them, implement effective public control, as well as improve the legal framework regulating this area.
I. Currently, the number of NGOs and their separate departments registered in the judicial bodies is 8,938, and the majority of NGOs operating in the Republic fall into the fields of sports, legal/democratic institutions, protection of the rights of youth and disabled people, and development of entrepreneurship. There are relatively few non-governmental non-profit organizations in the field of mass media and journalism (40) and friendship societies (53).

These non-governmental non-commercial organizations have been actively participating in the implementation of significant projects of social importance in various fields.
II. For instance, it is necessary to dwell on the activities of some non-governmental non-profit organizations registered in recent years.
1. Established in 2019, the non-governmental non-profit organization "Madad" (hereinafter referred to as NGO Madad) performs a number of tasks, such as providing free legal assistance to citizens on legal issues, improving their legal knowledge, analysis of requests for legal advice and, on the basis of the results, development of proposals for improving enforcement practices and existing legislation.
In addition, ensuring regular maintenance and updating of the legal information portal "Advice.uz" is one of the tasks of the "Madad" NGO. A separate section called "Gender equality and women's issues" has been created on the "Advice.uz" legal information portal. This section contains information related to the mechanism for protecting women from harassment and violence, providing them with advice and providing necessary assistance.
District (city) legal advisory bureaus of the NGO "Madad" organized a total of 1,537 mobile receptions at local community gatherings, of which 1,014 organized "legal consultation hours" at local community gatherings.
Promotional events dedicated to the issues of supporting women and providing practical assistance to victims of family violence were organized at local community gatherings.
A number of seminars and trainings are being organized in cooperation with the Legal Reform Program of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the "Government Partnership International" (GPI) organization of Great Britain.
2. If we look at the activities of the non-governmental non-profit organization "Center for Public-Legal Research" (hereinafter referred to as the Center), the following should be noted separately.
Starting from April 2021, with the support of the public fund for the support of non-governmental organizations and other institutions of civil society and the representative office of the German Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Uzbekistan, "Citizens' self-management of local state authorities, state bodies and organizations in the field of education, health and employment in Uzbekistan" A research-experimental project on the topic of "helping to ensure effective social partnership with public bodies and non-governmental non-profit organizations" is being implemented.
During 2021, the center held a total of 9 international scientific-practical and educational-practical events (of which 1 symposium, 1 podium-discussion and 1 conference and 3 seminar-trainings) dedicated to the promotion of legal culture, economic and administrative changes, reforms in the field of education, health and employment.
3. "Barqaror hayot" international social enlightenment center was registered in 2019. This organization, in cooperation with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the branch of the non-profit organization "Winrock International" in Uzbekistan, and other organizations, conducted legal advocacy activities in the neighborhoods of Surkhandarya region, Tashkent city, Tashkent region to ensure the rule of law.
Vocational training courses, psychological and legal services, informational and educational programs to prevent violence, extremism and radicalization, and seminars and trainings on starting a small business were also organized for people in need of social protection.
In addition, this organization actively participated in the processes of providing comprehensive assistance, rehabilitation and adaptation to society to families and children who returned from the areas of armed conflicts within the scope of Mehr 3, 4, 5 operations in Surkhandarya, Kashkadarya, Namangan regions.
III. Great importance is attached to the financial support of non-governmental non-profit organizations, and a number of activities are being carried out in order to provide financial support to civil society institutions and to develop their activities.
In particular, the amount of funds allocated from the state budget for state support of NGOs and other institutions of civil society increased by 36 times compared to 2008, 16 times compared to 2010, and 6.5 times compared to 2017.
At the same time, the scope of state support for civil society institutions was expanded, and public funds for the support of civil society institutions were established under the local Councils of People's Deputies. The legal basis for allocating funds from the local budget for financial support of civil society institutions in the regions has been strengthened, and social projects have been financed from these sources.

Growth dynamics of funds allocated from the State budget in 2008-2021
(in millions of soums)

At the same time, the following new opportunities were created through the www.e-ngo.uz portal launched by the Ministry of Justice in order to eliminate excessive red tape and create more convenience for NGOs:
- ensuring the openness and transparency of government organizations and NGOs by posting information on the Portal;
- establishing social partnerships between government organizations and NGOs through the Portal;
- implementation of social and economic development programs, development of regulatory legal documents and public control over their implementation through the Portal;
- creation of a single electronic database of implemented social partnership projects;
- created opportunity to agree to receive funds and property from foreign countries, international and foreign organizations, citizens of foreign countries or other persons on their behalf by non-governmental non-commercial organizations electronically.
According to the decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan dated March 3, 2021 PQ-5012 "On additional measures to support non-governmental non-profit organizations by the state, to ensure the protection of their freedom of activity, rights and legal interests":
- The total amount of money and property received from foreign sources by non-governmental non-profit organizations in one calendar year has been increased from twenty times to one hundred times the amount of the basic calculation.
- The period of re-registration of a non-governmental non-profit organization and state registration of its symbol was shortened from one month to fifteen days.;
- The state fee for the state registration (re-registration) of the symbols of public associations of persons with disabilities, veterans, luminaries, women, children has been canceled;
- It is established that a state duty will be levied in the amount of 50% of the basic calculation amount for the state registration of regional non-governmental non-profit organizations;
- A separate division of a non-governmental non-profit organization is considered a legal entity, and the procedure for accounting for separate divisions has been canceled.
As a result of the implemented reforms, "Houses of non-governmental non-profit organizations" were established in the center of the regions, problems related to the building of about 500 non-governmental non-profit organizations were solved, and their socially useful activities were restored. In particular, non-governmental, non-commercial organizations, which are newly established and are active in socially important areas, were accommodated in these houses on the basis of the right of free use.
Also, as a result of the implementation of the "Concept of Civil Society Development in 2021-2025" approved by the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan No. PF-6181 on March 4, 2025, by 2025:
- 4 times more funds from local budgets to support civil society institutions compared to 2021, i.e. 70 billion. transfer of soum;
- increase the effectiveness of the activities of civil society institutions, expand the scope of activities, as well as strengthen their financial support;
- creating legal mechanisms for participation of civil society institutions in the development of important political, social and economic programs and monitoring of their implementation;
- supporting the establishment of non-governmental non-profit organizations dealing with youth, children, employment, women, intellectuals, environmental issues;
- Based on the principle of "state + civil society institutions + business entities", tasks such as further improvement of the mechanism of implementation of social projects were defined.
In addition, in the direction of supporting persons with disabilities, the Ministry of Justice, in cooperation with non-governmental non-profit organizations, annually organizes events and trade fairs aimed at supporting people with disabilities within the framework of the "We are together" project.
IV. It should be noted that although gradual reforms are being carried out in the field and legislation aimed at ensuring freedom of activity of non-governmental non-profit organizations is being adopted, some shortcomings remain in the areas of public control and social partnership.
In particular, the participation of non-governmental non-commercial organizations in the development and implementation of socio-economic development programs and legal documents is insufficient. This, in turn, has a negative impact on the in-depth study and full consideration of the interests of all social groups represented by various NGOs.
At the same time, there is a need to create modern and effective mechanisms for monitoring the implementation of important social and economic programs by civil society institutions.
Today, social partnership relations between state bodies and NGOs are insufficient. As one of the main factors of the emergence of such a situation, it can be noted that modern mechanisms of establishing social partnership relations using information and communication technologies are not used.
In order to eliminate these shortcomings, the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers dated April 22, 2022 No. 208 on measures to further improve the mechanisms of social partnership and public control was adopted. In accordance with this decision, it is planned to introduce modern mechanisms of social partnership and public control through the electronic portal by December 1, 2022.
In conclusion, the measures being implemented are the consistent improvement of the legal foundations of the development of civil society in our country, the further development of the mechanism of providing assistance to civil society institutions and their state support, and the legal strengthening of the participation of non-governmental non-commercial organizations at all stages of the development of draft legislation, among others, it serves to ensure freedom in the activities of non-governmental non-commercial organizations.

Javokhir Abdullaev,
Lead consultant of the Ministry of Justice
of the Republic of Uzbekistan