On September 19, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, the general political debate of 78th session of the UN General Assembly began. The President of Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev delivered a speech.
On the first day of the debates, chaired by Dennis Francis, the following participants took part: the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the leaders of member states including the President of the United States Joseph Biden, the President of the Federative Republic of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the President of the Republic of Turkiye Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the President of the Republic of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa, the Emir of the State of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, as well as other heads of state.
In his speech, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev emphasized the importance of uniting the countries while preserving the spirit of harmony and practical cooperation. He stressed that common interests should hold greater importance than existing contradictions among states.
“Last year, we launched the Samarkand Solidarity Initiative aiming to foster common security and prosperity. Our main goal is to establish a global dialogue where all parties are willing to engage in constructive cooperation, and hold a deep sense of responsibility for the present and future of our countries and people”, stated the Leader of Uzbekistan.
He expressed his confidence in the forthcoming summit, initiated by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, which will be organized next year. The summit is expected to address the long-standing problems of international and regional development, while also helping to further enhance the impact and influence of the Organization.
The Head of our State focused on the comprehensive reforms that Uzbekistan will implement in the upcoming years He also highlighted several initiatives that have been launched to address the most urgent issues on the global and regional agenda.
“We will firmly continue our policy of building a legal, secular, democratic, and socially-oriented state of New Uzbekistan. Our country is making significant progress on reforms aimed at implementing the principles of democracy and justice, based on the idea of “For the name of human dignity and interests”, stated the President.
It was noted that the nationwide referendum on the renewed Constitution, held in Uzbekistan, has defined the development priorities. The Fundamental Law confirms the commitment to the principles of human rights, freedom of speech and conscience, and equality of all citizens regardless of their nationality, language, and religion. The adopted "Uzbekistan 2030" Development Strategy, based on this legal framework, aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.
The President of Uzbekistan stated that despite global challenges, our country is demonstrating stable growth rates. Over the past six years, the gross domestic product (GDP) has increased by more than one and a half times. The main goal is to double this indicator by 2030.
Another priority task on the path of economic liberalization is to become a member of the World Trade Organization in the near future.
The poverty rate in the country has been halved since 2017 as a result of policy that directly aimed to improve the living standards of the population. It is planned to reduce it to 7% by 2030.
“We support the initiative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the 'Global Accelerator for Job Creation and Social Protection.' As part of this initiative, I propose hosting the World Conference on Social Protection: Pathway to Sustainable Development in our country in 2024 under the auspices of the United Nations," said the leader of Uzbekistan.
The participants of the meeting were presented with the achieved results in the protection of human rights and the complete prohibition of forced and child labor in our country.
Over the past century, millions of people in Uzbekistan were forced to pick cotton. Annually, from September to December, the majority of the population, including teachers, doctors, businessmen, workers, and civil servants, as well as, unfortunately, students and pupils, were mobilized for cotton picking.
As a result of the boycott imposed on Uzbek cotton, the country was placed on "blacklists" for many years. However, thanks to our strong determination, all of that is now in the past. Our people have completely freed themselves from cotton slavery," emphasized the head of state.
As the President noted, the development of human capital and the nurturing of a creative young generation are among the strategic tasks that Uzbekistan has set for itself.
In this regard, significant progress has been made in recent years through a profound transformation of the education system. Over the past six years, the coverage of early childhood education has increased from 21% to 70%, while higher education enrollment has risen from 9% to 38%. By 2030, opportunities will be created for every child to attend preschool, and every second high school graduate to pursue higher education.
The Head of State expressed a firm intention to continue strengthening good neighbour relationships, stability, cooperation, and development in Central Asia.
Thanks to the joint efforts of Uzbekistan and its neighboring countries, many issues related to state borders, transportation corridors, and water usage have been successfully resolved.
Mutual trade between the countries in the region has grown by 2.5 times, while the number of joint ventures has increased fivefold. The region is becoming a center of economic development and a transportation and communication bridge connecting the East and West, North and South.
“We can confidently say that our peoples are united by the awareness of regional identity, and this feeling is strengthening. We not only share a common past but also have a shared future with coinciding vital interests. We have no choice but to expand regional cooperation”, noted Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
It is expressed with confidence that with the support of the international community, Central Asia will continue on the path of consolidation. Transforming it into a peaceful and prosperous region will remain a priority goal of Uzbekistan's foreign policy.
It is noted that for Central Asia, where nearly half of the population is comprised of youth, issues related to the younger generation and the realization of their potential hold particular importance.
On the initiative of the President of Uzbekistan, in order to enhance cooperation in this field, the states of the region recently signed an Agreement on the Common Directions of Youth Policy.
To establish effective cooperation in this field with the United Nations and its specialized agencies, it has been proposed to create a Working Group to promote youth development in Central Asia and develop the program "Youth Agenda for Central Asia - 2030."
Another important issue highlighted is the participation of women in the governance of society and the state.
“The noble goal underlying our national policy in this area is to ensure the strength of the family, legal protection, and well-being of women," emphasized the leader of Uzbekistan.
There is an expressed interest in further expanding cooperation with UN Women. As a joint initiative, it has been proposed to host the Asian Women's Forum in Uzbekistan next year to discuss the implementation of their constructive potential and exchange experiences in this field.
Highlighting the pressing environmental situation and the intensifying triple planetary crisis caused by climate change, biodiversity loss, and environmental pollution, the President noted that Central Asia is becoming one of the most climate-vulnerable regions.
Efforts undertaken by Uzbekistan to address the consequences of the Aral Sea tragedy were presented, along with data on the negative impact of climate change in the region and the declining trends in water availability.
Considering this situation, the establishment of the position of Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Water Resources has been supported, as well as the creation of a Water-Saving Technologies Platform in Central Asia and the development of systematic cooperation within the adopted Green Development Program in the region.
“In this regard, I believe it is appropriate to establish the 'Central Asian Climate Dialogue.' We propose the adoption of a resolution by the United Nations General Assembly titled 'Central Asia in the Face of Global Climate Threats: Solidarity for Common Prosperity,” stated the Leader.
The President of Uzbekistan stated that the main provisions of the resolution should be discussed at an international climate forum to be held in Samarkand next year.
It was emphasized that the strategic task remains the adaptation of Uzbekistan's key economic sectors to climate change, achieving carbon neutrality, and significantly increasing the share of "green" energy.
The head of state also highlighted the need to intensify joint efforts to prevent the spread of extremism and the radicalization of youth.
It is noted that within the National Strategy for Countering Extremism and Terrorism, special attention is given to the reintegration and return to normal life of individuals who were previously influenced by extremist ideas. Five humanitarian missions called "Mehr" have been conducted, through which over 530 citizens, primarily women and children, have been repatriated from conflict zones.
“In June of this year, here, at the headquarters of the United Nations, the international community firsthand heard the stories of women repatriates who, upon returning to our country, started a new life”, stated the President.
The President stated that practical steps have been taken to create, under the auspices of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Office, a Regional Expert Council for Systematic Work with Repatriates from conflict zones.
Furthermore, the leader of Uzbekistan called for preventing instances of religious intolerance and Islamophobia, which have been observed in some countries recently.
To promote the ideas of interreligious tolerance and harmony worldwide, it has been proposed to establish an International Center for Interreligious Dialogue and Tolerance in Uzbekistan under the auspices of UNESCO.
“We take pride in our country being the homeland of such great scientists and thinkers as Al-Khwarizmi, Al-Biruni, Ibn Sina, Imam Bukhari, Mirzo Ulugbek, Alisher Navoi, who have made invaluable contributions to the development of global science and culture, and have shown that Islam is a religion of peace, knowledge, and enlightenment”, emphasized the President.
With the aim of studying the rich heritage of these great personalities and deeply exploring the humanistic essence of Islam, an initiative has been put forward to hold an international conference in Uzbekistan in 2024 on the theme of "Islam: Religion of Peace and Goodness."
It is emphasized that international security is directly linked to the developments in Afghanistan. A new situation has emerged in that country, which requires special approaches. Ignoring, isolating, and imposing sanctions worsen the situation for the ordinary Afghan people.
Expressing the opinion that humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people should not wane, the President called for the development of appropriate mechanisms to direct frozen international assets of Afghanistan towards addressing acute social problems in the country.
"We need a peaceful and stable Afghanistan that participates in regional cooperation processes and is open to mutually beneficial partnerships with its neighbors and other countries," emphasized the head of state.
Addressing the United Nations from the high podium, the President of Uzbekistan called on the international community to unite in solving the issue of Afghanistan and, under the guidance of the United Nations, develop a coordinated and constructive position on Afghanistan.
In conclusion, it is noted that in this pivotal and historical moment, everyone should reflect on the kind of planet we will leave for future generations: "Only through shared aspirations and collective efforts can we achieve enduring peace and prosperity. Now more than ever, we need mutual trust, solidarity, and cooperation."
Uzbekistan's readiness to deepen broad and long-term partnerships with United Nations institutions and all countries has been reaffirmed once again.