SHAVKAT MIRZIYOYEV, President of Uzbekistan, noting a global crisis of confidence, reminded about the “Samarkand Solidarity Initiative” aimed at common security and development. He pledged to continue the policy of creating a new Uzbekistan, which is a law-governed, secular, democratic and social State. In April 2023, a referendum on his country’s Constitution led to the adoption of “Uzbekistan 2030”, a national development plan in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. Since 2017, poverty in Uzbekistan has been halved, and it is planned to be reduced to 7 per cent by 2030, he said, proposing to host a world conference in 2024 titled “Social Protection: the Path towards Development” under the auspices of the United Nations.
“For a century, millions of people were forced to pick cotton in Uzbekistan. Thanks to our strong will and determination, now it is all history. Our people have been completely liberated from cotton slavery,” he underscored, citing the constitutional ban on forced labour. He called for intensifying the global fight against forced and child labour. Given that nearly half of Central Asia’s population consists of young people, creating opportunities for that segment has been an utmost importance, he noted, proposing to establish a working group at the United Nations to support youth development in Central Asia. Underlining the importance of equality between men and women, he said that Tashkent is interested in cooperating with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) and proposes to hold an Asian women’s forum in Uzbekistan in 2024.
Speaking about the Aral Sea tragedy, he said that Uzbekistan is doing its best to mitigate its consequences and 1.7 million hectares of green areas with drought-tolerant plants had been created on the dried-up bed of the sea. Over the past 30 years, the region’s air temperature has increased by 1.5°C, which is more than twice the global warming average. It is expected that the per capita water supply will decrease by 25 per cent and agricultural yields by 40 per cent. “Unless we take timely and effective measures, the consequences of these problems will seriously undermine our region's socioeconomic stability,” he warned, calling for the appointment of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Water Resources. He also put forward an initiative to adopt a UN General Assembly resolution titled “Central Asia Facing Global Climate Threats: Solidarity for Common Prosperity” and to discuss it at the International Climate Forum in Samarkand in 2024.
He reminded that in March in Tashkent, the Joint Plan of Action for the implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in Central Asia was adopted. To promote religious tolerance and cooperation at the global level, he proposed establishing in Uzbekistan an international centre for interreligious dialogue and cooperation under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), as well as to host in 2024 an international conference titled “Islam: a religion of peace and kindness”. He also stressed that developments in Afghanistan directly impact international security. “Leaving Afghanistan again alone with its own problems would be a grave mistake. Ignoring, isolating and imposing sanctions only exacerbates the hardships faced by the ordinary Afghan people,” he warned, adding that humanitarian aid to the Afghan people should not be reduced and calling for the development of mechanisms to utilize Afghanistan’s frozen international assets to address its acute social problems. “We need an open, peaceful and sustainable Afghanistan that is actively engaged in regional cooperation initiatives and is ready for mutually beneficial partnerships with its neighbours and other countries. I believe it is essential that under the leadership of the United Nations, we jointly develop a flexible and constructive approach to the Afghan issue,” he concluded.
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