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Towards the Rule of Law through quality rule-making

Statement by the Director-General, Ms Jan Beagle

Tashkent Law Spring Conference, Panel Discussion

“Towards the Rule of Law through quality rule-making”

Tashkent, 17 May 2023

Colleagues and Friends,

As Director-General of the International Development Law Organization, it is a pleasure to address this discussion on “Towards the Rule of Law through quality rule-making”.

This theme is both timely and relevant to the extraordinary period of transformative change Uzbekistan and the region of Central Asia are currently undergoing.

As I said in the plenary, the law is ultimately an instrument that expresses and seeks to advance society’s fundamental values and aspirations.

It can be an engine of empowerment and progress but, as we have seen many times in history, when misused, the law can also be a tool of oppression.

The rule of law differs from rule by law in its emphasis on justice, which encompasses principles such as due process, equality, non-discrimination, good governance, and the protection of human rights.

It is this vision of the law that IDLO works to advance in all regions of the world.

So what then is needed for quality rule making.

The starting point must always be a people-centred approach based on a good understanding of the context and of people’s justice needs, together with respect for their human rights.

IDLO works with partners from across legal systems to promote reforms that draw on the best available evidence, data and local expertise, and which are nationally owned in the broadest sense of the word.

We seek to translate international standards into local realities.

We have been active in Central Asia since the early 1990s, initially supporting the transition to market economies with legal frameworks, and building legal capacity.

Uzbekistan has made significant progress as part of its ongoing legal transformation.

Since 2017, over 1200 Presidential decrees, laws, and sub-legislative acts have been passed, many of them seeking to reform the legal system in line with international standards and norms.

But of course, the world is changing rapidly, and social and technological advancements often outpace laws and policies.

Digital innovations, including technologies such as blockchain and Artificial Intelligence, can be a great equalizer.

They have tremendous potential to expand access while also increasing cost-effectiveness, efficiency, transparency, and accountability, as well as providing greater legal clarity and certainty.

The harnessing of digital technologies will be an important new frontier for legal development.

But it will be essential to ensure that appropriate legal frameworks are in place to maximize the benefit of these technologies, while avoiding the creation of new forms of inequalities.

Another important criteria for effective rule making and implementation is the element of participation.

Participatory and inclusive rule-making processes, help build mutual trust and confidence, and ensure greater transparency and accountability.

The inclusion of traditionally excluded groups such as women, youth and minorities is especially important.

We welcome the recent adoption of the landmark legislation aimed at providing women and children with greater legal protections against gender-based violence.

The need to ensure women’s rights is now more urgent than ever, and by passing this law Uzbekistan has made a major investment in the future development of the country.

IDLO looks forward to partnering with you in helping build on this change to help Uzbek women and girls participate and contribute fully to all elements of public life.

Having good laws and policies is an important start, but their effectiveness depends on their implementation.

Building the capacity of justice sector institutions is key to the successful implementation of new legislation and regulations.

Uzbekistan is making progress on this front.

350 more judges have joined the Uzbek judiciary since the beginning of the reforms and a judicial academy is to be established.

IDLO would welcome the opportunity to contribute to the effort of building legal capacity, drawing on its global network of experts and four decades of experience in legal training.

Another important test of the effectiveness of any rule is people’s ability to understand and apply it.

Even before COVID-19, more than 1.5-billion people had a justice problem they could not resolve.

For many, barriers include lack of their awareness of rights, not being able to physically access a court, or pay for legal services.

Ensuring that people have the ability to seek redress and claim their rights is a key element of a system based on the rule of law.

A system of administrative courts where citizens can take state bodies to court is a positive step in this direction.

IDLO will be happy to share our experiences in expanding access to justice through legal aid, paralegal and ADR support.

To conclude, a people-centred approach is essential for ensuring that laws and policies are of high quality and advance the rule of law.

There is tremendous scope to learn from experiences and expertise across the world, and to use this knowledge to realize the vision of a world where everyone lives with dignity and equality under the rule of law.

IDLO looks forward to advancing its cooperation with Uzbekistan, and other partners in the region and beyond.