SCO Secretary General: Uzbek President’s Initiatives @ 75th UNGA fully reflect the goals & objectives of SCO; Secretary General

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The initiatives of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, announced at the 75th jubilee session of the UN General Assembly, are supported by the international community. Experts from different countries, including the space of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), note their relevance, relevance and practicality in solving contemporary regional and global problems that the peoples of our states face.

I would like to emphasize that practically all the initiatives put forward by the head of Uzbekistan fully reflect and fully comply with the goals and objectives of the SCO, enshrined in its Charter and other fundamental documents, which are aimed at promoting sustainable development, ensuring peace and stability, strengthening friendship and good-neighborliness in the region.

1. The President of Uzbekistan offered support in the joint fight against the pandemic and overcoming the negative consequences of its spread, emphasizing the importance of strengthening partnerships on health issues, raising the status and capacity of the World Health Organization and expanding its powers.

Indeed, the pandemic has reaffirmed the cross-border nature of today’s threats. The destructive power of this viral disease has proven to be much stronger than any type of terrorist attack.

At the same time, as UN Secretary General António Guterres said at the Security Council meeting at the 75th session of the General Assembly, “the pandemic has become a test that the world community has failed to withstand. The world was not ready to show cooperation, unity and solidarity. ” In these conditions, the SCO member states have shown mutual support, solidarity and mutual assistance.

In this regard, the initiative of the President of Uzbekistan to develop, under the auspices of the UN, an International Code on Voluntary Commitments of States during a Pandemic, which would provide all countries of the world with qualified specialists, medicines and relevant technologies on an equal basis, has become very popular.

2. The coronavirus pandemic has a significant impact on the entire system of international relations. In these conditions, the problems of international terrorism and extremism are becoming more acute. As “forces of evil”, they continue to threaten international peace and security, the development of friendly relations between states, as well as the exercise of fundamental human rights and freedoms.

An effective fight against international terrorism and extremism requires the consolidation of the efforts of the world community, the development and strengthening of international antiterrorist cooperation.

In this context, the SCO attaches particular importance to building up interaction with the UN and joint implementation of the organization’s Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

The Shanghai Convention on Combating Terrorism, Extremism and Separatism, signed in 2001, has proven its practical significance. From year to year, the level of coordination of joint efforts of the competent authorities of the SCO member states to identify, prevent and suppress the threats of terrorism and extremism is increasing.

The SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure, based in Tashkent, is operating effectively. The SCO attaches great importance to holding joint anti-terrorist exercises of special services on a regular basis, as well as the combined-arms exercises “Peace Mission”.

In this regard, the proposal of the head of Uzbekistan to hold an international conference dedicated to the implementation of the Joint Plan for the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy deserves special attention and all-round support.

The adoption of this strategy in 2006 was an important and unique contribution to strengthening international antiterrorist cooperation. Then the world community convincingly demonstrated its ability to unanimously and effectively interact in repelling the global terrorist threat.

Central Asia, which has been facing terrorism for many years, became the first region in the world to adopt the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy Action Plan, which includes a comprehensive approach to countering this threat.

I am convinced that the holding of the International Conference aimed at mobilizing joint efforts to ensure security in Central Asia will establish itself as an important element in strengthening multilateral anti-terrorism cooperation, information exchange and practical actions to counter modern challenges and threats at the regional and global levels.

3. Another important factor in the manifestation of international terrorism in the countries of Central Asia is the unstable situation in Afghanistan. Tashkent understands well that the restoration of a peaceful Afghanistan free from terrorism and drug-related crime is impossible without the implementation of adequate economic measures. It is important to note that the Uzbek side views Afghanistan not as a source of threats to peace and stability, but as a unique strategic opportunity, as a country, the establishment of peace and stability in which can give a fundamentally new impetus to the intensification of trans-regional interaction throughout the Eurasian space.

In this regard, Uzbekistan is taking active steps to promote stabilization in this country, including by investing in the railway, energy and educational infrastructure of Afghanistan. Largely thanks to the efforts of Uzbekistan, Afghanistan today has achieved some success in building a democratic society, as well as developing the economy.

This process was also effectively facilitated by the high-level international conference held in 2018 in Tashkent. The results of the conference determined the basic principles and conditions for a peaceful settlement, specified the obligations of the Afghan government and the armed opposition, as well as the international community to launch the negotiation process and support it.

It is thanks to the results of this event that today we are watching the ongoing negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban, which should become an important turning point in the modern history of Afghanistan and contribute to the establishment of peace and stability.

In this regard, the initiative of the head of Uzbekistan to establish a permanent UN committee aimed at promoting the socio-economic development of Afghanistan was highly appreciated and supported by the international expert community. The creation of this mechanism will provide practical assistance to the integration of Afghanistan into the trade and economic system of the entire region.

In addition, Afghanistan can play a key role in enhancing the transit potential of Central Asia by creating transport corridors for the exit of geographically closed countries of the region to the markets of East and Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Europe and to the ports of the Mediterranean Sea.

In this regard, great importance is attached to the construction through the Afghan territory of high-speed highways, railways, including the routes Mazar-i-Sharif-Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif-Peshawar, which, being an important link in the transport route North-South, will allow a new transit corridor with access to Iranian, Pakistani and Indian railways, as well as to the ports of Chahbahar and Gwadar.

4. Indeed, the development and expansion of transport and transit corridors in Central Asia will ensure the deep integration of the countries of the region into global economic processes.

Central Asia, which is the core of the SCO and the priority of its activities, has tremendous potential for the development of transport and logistics cooperation and enhancing economic interconnection throughout the organization. The implementation of joint and multilateral projects in these areas is undoubtedly capable of bringing cooperation in the region to a qualitatively new level.

The SCO countries are in favor of further deepening cooperation in the transport sector, including the creation of new and modernization of existing transport corridors, multimodal logistics centers to significantly increase the transit potential of the SCO member states.

In this context, Uzbekistan’s initiative on the formation of an international transport and logistics association of the SCO also deserves attention. This proposal is very relevant against the background of agreements on launching a new transport corridor “Tashkent-Andijan-Osh-Irkeshtam-Kashgar” and “Termez-Dushanbe-Kashgar”, along which construction of trade and logistics centers is already underway, which will contribute to the development of transit potential and trade and economic interregional cooperation of the SCO member states.

In this regard, the initiative of the President of Uzbekistan to create a Regional Center for the Development of Transport and Communication Connectivity under the auspices of the UN, designed to make a significant contribution to ensuring the economic, innovative and sustainable development of the region, is gaining even greater significance. This structure, as envisaged, will contribute to the formation of Central Asia as an active participant in interregional trade and economic processes and the formation of a regional agenda in this direction.

Here I would like to note that this is not the first such initiative of Uzbekistan. In 2019, at the Bishkek summit, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev proposed to develop a SCO Cooperation Strategy for the development of interconnectedness, effective economic and transport corridors.

It seems that after the implementation of both initiatives, they will complement each other. This reaffirms that the Central Asian region is becoming more stable, predictable and economically sustainable. Favorable conditions and unique opportunities are being formed for broad cooperation, promotion of major regional projects, including the construction of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway, which will undoubtedly give a powerful impetus to the development and mutual trade, and an increase in the inflow of investments to our countries.

Undoubtedly, these tendencies are actively promoted by the consultative mechanism of the countries of Central Asia launched at the initiative of the head of Uzbekistan. This “dialogue platform” allows the countries of the region to jointly and comprehensively consider promising areas for further development of cooperation in the areas of security, economy, transport, agriculture, industrial cooperation, energy, water resources and tourism.

5. One of the most important directions for the implementation of the new regional course of Uzbekistan in Central Asia, conducted under the leadership of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, is also the strengthening of cultural, humanitarian and spiritual ties between the peoples of this region.

Since time immemorial, Central Asia has been a place of historical meetings and spiritual mutual enrichment of different peoples, countries and continents. The cities located in this region have always been centers of science and education. This space is associated with the names of great scientists, philosophers and outstanding researchers who made an invaluable contribution to the development of human civilization, interethnic and interfaith dialogue.

The territory of Uzbekistan, which in many ways contributed to the development of world civilization, is located at the main crossroads of the Great Silk Road. It was here that there were key points of mutual exchange between East and West, which served and continue to serve the development and interpenetration of cultures, traditions and religions.

Today Uzbekistan is actively cooperating with UNESCO in the field of preserving cultural and spiritual heritage, as well as in holding major international events. In recent years, several major cultural festivals have been held in the republic under the auspices of UNESCO, in particular, Sharq Taronalari (Melodies of the East), Bakhshi and Makom. These events are an important factor in the development of good-neighborly interstate relations and confirm the huge contribution of the peoples of Uzbekistan and other countries of Central Asia to the development of world civilization.

Support by the UNESCO leadership of the initiative of the head of Uzbekistan to hold an international forum “Central Asia at the crossroads of world civilizations” in the ancient historical city of Khiva confirms the key contribution of the Uzbek side to strengthening cultural, humanitarian and spiritual ties in the region. Without a doubt, the holding of this event will also provide a good opportunity to immerse yourself in the distinctive culture and unique heritage of Central Asia.

6. Another urgent problem of our time, to which the President of Uzbekistan drew attention, is the elimination of poverty and the fight against poverty. According to UN statistics, the world’s population is growing rapidly and will reach 9.8 billion by 2050. Yet more than 800 million remain below the poverty line, facing food crises from a variety of causes: natural disasters, conflicts, climate change and food prices. According to experts, by 2030 it will be necessary to increase world food production by 70%.

In this regard, food security is acquiring great importance in this area under current conditions. Aggravation of food problems is often one of the causes of socio-political upheavals and an increase in poverty and poverty.

Another factor playing a key role in sustainable development and poverty eradication is strengthening the role of education and science, ensuring quality health care. An educated and healthy population has a positive impact on the rate of return on investment, as well as contributes to the eradication of poverty, preventing the “transmission of poverty” from one generation to another.

Most of the world’s poorest people (about 75 percent) live in rural areas and depend directly on agriculture for their livelihoods and food security. However, they often lack adequate access to resources, services, technology, markets and infrastructure.

In 2018-2019, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution “Eradicating rural poverty in the context of activities to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. This document calls for the design, implementation and implementation of gender-sensitive socioeconomic policies, poverty eradication, including in rural areas, and facilitating and expanding access of developing countries to appropriate technologies designed to improve the situation of the poor and increase productivity.

Today, the global crisis that has arisen due to the coronavirus pandemic has a serious impact on the economies of all countries. The rise in unemployment and poverty amid a pandemic is a serious problem even in the most developed countries. The UN believes that the number of people living in extreme poverty could skyrocket. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the World Bank, the number of extremely poor people in the world will grow by 150 million in 2020-2021.

A report on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on meeting the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals says 1.6 billion workers have already faced 60% drop in income. Loss of income, lack of social protection and rising prices mean that poverty is now threatening even those whose economic position was previously stable. At the same time, the largest part of the growth of the poor will be in countries with average incomes, and there are more than 80% of those in the world. According to the UN, under the worst-case scenario of a 20 percent reduction in income or consumption, the number of people living in poverty could increase by 420-580 million compared to 2018.

The new global economic crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, the recovery from which in these conditions may be protracted, has also affected the SCO countries.

Therefore, the SCO member states, where almost half of the world’s population live, pay primary attention to overcoming the political and socio-economic consequences of the pandemic. Countries’ efforts are aimed primarily at combating unemployment and poverty,

More than 800 million young people live in the SCO space, and therefore, the lack of economic opportunities can become a dangerous trend that can push socially vulnerable young people to illegal activities, including terrorism, human trafficking and drug trafficking. In this regard, the elimination of poverty in the SCO area is becoming increasingly important for the general prosperity, security and stability in the region.

The priority goal of the SCO, in accordance with the SCO Charter, is to promote comprehensive and balanced economic growth, sustainable development in the region on the basis of equal partnership in order to improve the living conditions of the peoples of the SCO member states.

To this end, under the chairmanship of the Russian side, the SCO member states are currently developing an Action Plan for 2021-2025 to implement the Development Strategy of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization until 2025, which is planned to be adopted in November at the upcoming SCO summit. This document is also aimed at establishing cooperation between the SCO member states in the field of poverty alleviation.

Against the background of these trends, the proposal of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to include this issue on the agenda of the upcoming session of the UN General Assembly, as well as the holding of a Global Summit dedicated to these issues, will help develop coordinated approaches of the governments of developing countries to reduce poverty, support entrepreneurship development and create jobs. improving the investment climate and business environment and providing social assistance to the population.

7.The theses voiced by the President of Uzbekistan on the achievements of the republic in the field of gender policy, strengthening civil society, human rights, youth and interethnic harmony testify to the deeply thought-out, consistent and purposeful internal political activity of the head of state.

Thanks to successful reforms, democratic principles based on the rule of law and ensuring human rights are gradually being introduced into state and public life.

The country’s first election to the UN Human Rights Council also became international recognition of Uzbekistan’s numerous reforms to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights.

In this context, I would like to note that one of the main tasks of the SCO, according to its Charter, is to promote the provision of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the international obligations of the member states and their national legislation.

That is why the heads of the SCO member states at the Bishkek summit expressed support for the initiative of the Uzbek side to prepare a draft UN Convention on the Rights of Youth and expressed their intention to carry out coordinated work on this issue.

The significance of this UN Convention for the SCO countries lies in the fact that it takes into account international and national experience in regulating relevant aspects of protecting the rights of youth and is aimed at building up efforts made at the international, regional and national levels in order to meet the needs of youth, strengthen capacity and guarantee rights, freedom and support for the interests of young people in all their diversity around the world.

The adoption of this Convention at the next session of the UN General Assembly could become a timely and effective response to the challenges and opportunities facing states and the world community as a whole in the harmonious development of youth, realizing its enormous potential in order to ensure the well-being and sustainable development of our countries, overcoming negative the consequences of the pandemic.

The Samarkand Forum on Human Rights also actively contributed to the promotion of this initiative, which became another important practical step and a significant contribution of the republic to global solidarity, sustainable development and ensuring human rights in the name of peace and prosperity.

Uzbekistan is an active supporter within the SCO in the spiritual and moral education of young people, as well as strengthening measures to prevent the involvement of the younger generation in the activities of various radical structures. The practical embodiment of these efforts was the adoption, on the initiative of the leader of Uzbekistan, in 2018 of the Joint Appeal of the Heads of the SCO Member States to Youth and the Action Program for its implementation, which serve as a guideline for the work of the youth mechanisms of our organization.

8. Issues of environmental protection, preservation of the ecological balance, as well as mitigation of the consequences of the ecological disaster caused by the drying up of the Aral Sea, which the President of Uzbekistan paid great attention to in his speech at the UN General Assembly, in the context of the recent exacerbation of the negative consequences of climate change are relevant and more in demand than ever.

The drying up of the Aral Sea remains one of the most acute problems in the Central Asia region, entailing irreparable consequences for the gene pool and health, conditions and quality of life of the Aral Sea population, the diversity of its flora and fauna. The world community has recognized that, unfortunately, it is impossible to restore the Aral Sea. Therefore, the task of mitigating the disastrous impact of this crisis on the environment and the life of the Aral Sea population comes to the fore.

This tragedy led to a change in the way of life of millions of people, destroyed the social and economic systems of the region. Salt deserts with an area of over 5.5 million hectares have appeared on the exposed part of the Aral Sea. The drying up of the Aral Sea gave rise to the process of double desertification and leads to increased wind erosion of the surface of the dried-up bottom of the Aral Sea and a general increase in the dust content of the air basin in Central Asia.

The dust raised into the air reached great heights and spread over considerable distances. The deposition of this dust on the surface of the Pamir and Tien Shan glaciers leads to their pollution, which causes more intense ice melting. For example, the leaders of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, speaking at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, expressed their concern about the accelerated melting of glaciers in the Pamirs and Tien Shan. In this regard, international experts highly appreciate the efforts of Uzbekistan in this direction, which, in particular, were reflected in the initiatives to declare the Aral Sea region a zone of environmental innovations and technologies and the International Day for the Protection and Restoration of Ecological Systems.

These initiatives are an important factor in protecting the environment, which can play a key role in calling on the international community to develop sustainable mechanisms for the introduction of innovative technologies to maintain environmental stability in the Aral Sea region, as well as to attract investment projects to the region.

The announcement of the International Day for the Protection and Restoration of Ecological Systems will be an effective tool for educating the general public on this issue, as well as for attracting attention and mobilizing resources to address it.

In addition, for the implementation of practical actions to implement comprehensive measures aimed at improving the environmental and socio-economic situation in the Aral Sea region, at the initiative of Uzbekistan, the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund for Human Security in this region was formed, which becomes an effective platform for the development of international cooperation and mobilization of funds from the donor community.

As in many other international platforms, cooperation in the field of environmental protection is one of the priority areas of the SCO’s activities. In the Bishkek Declaration of 2019, the heads of the SCO member states expressed concern about the large-scale consequences of the continuing drying up of the Aral Sea and noted the importance of intensifying interaction with the UN, interested countries and structures in solving this problem.

In addition, the Joint Communiqué following the meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of the SCO Member States (on 2 November 2019, Tashkent) supported the further implementation of the resolution of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly on the mid-term comprehensive review of the International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development”. The document also mentions the initiative of the Uzbek side to develop the SCO Green Belt Program for the widespread introduction of modern resource-saving and environmentally friendly technologies in the SCO member states.

The approaches of the SCO member states to this problem once again confirm the importance of maintaining environmental stability in the Aral Sea region, restoring the well-being of the local population and introducing innovative technologies in this region.

9.In conclusion, I would like to note that the initiatives put forward by the President of Uzbekistan to solve existing regional and international problems are very effective, relevant and timely in order to ensure security and sustainable development in Central Asia, as well as in the SCO space and in the world as a whole.

The head of Uzbekistan showed firm political will and foresight in ensuring prosperity and stability in Central Asia, open dialogue and strengthening good-neighborly relations in the region. These efforts demonstrate the emergence of Uzbekistan as a strategically important and responsible participant in achieving sustainable development goals not only in the Central Asian region, but also at the global level.

Vladimir Norov,

SCO Secretary General

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