A. Democratic Institutions
56. The process of democratisation is gaining increasing importance in the new situation in the Kyrgyz Republic. New social strata and active groups, as well as the new relationships between the community and public sector instrumentalities emerge as a result of systemic changes in society. Growing social activity and independence foster the development of existing institutions as well as the emergence of new democratic institutions and mechanisms. The electoral system is expanding and improving. It now covers not only higher levels of the state, but also the most numerous layer of the public administration, local government. Political parties are able to directly participate in elections. The existing Elections Code is in line with the best international standards of democracy and is constantly being improved.
57. Decentralization of state administration and the growing practice of appointment to office by election are among the most important areas of democratisation. In 2001, all localities of the Republic, 460 aiyl okmotu (village governments), 12 towns of districts, 9 towns of regional subordination, and Bishkek city, adopted the principles of local self-government (LSG). The first democratic elections for local government leaders were held at the end of the year 2001. The Law on LSG and Local State Administration was passed at the start of 2002. This law has secured the organizational and legal framework of LSG, outlined state guarantees, established the right of local communities to self-government, identified powers, and set out interaction principles between LSGs and state level administrations. Several measures have been taken to enhance the economic foundations of local communities. The Government’s decisions have increased the rights of LSG agencies to collect taxes and form local budgets.
58. An important aspect of growing democratisation have been the peoples’ conventions (kurultai), which were held throughout the villages, towns, and districts of the Republic in the fall of 2001 and gathered over 90,000 delegates, selected by local community meetings and gatherings. In January-February 2002 all aiyl okmotus, villages, towns, districts, and regions held village meetings and gatherings on discussion of prospects for social and economic development, and enhancing effectiveness of administration under the CDF/NPRS programs. These peoples’ forums encourage citizens to take an active part in the managing of local communities and enhance accountability of local authorities to the population.
59. Measures have been adopted to expand activities and democratic principles in the Government of Kyrgyz Republic. The Government now includes representatives of various public and political formations that share the ideology of reforms. Positive developments are noted in the style of its work. The Government depends more and more on the opinion of members of parliament, entrepreneurs, and the general public.
60. Steps have been taken to form a more socially engaged and accountable parliament – the Jogorku Kenesh of Kyrgyz Republic. A mechanism of partial election by party lists has been introduced, along with qualification of residence for the deputies of the Assembly of People’s Representatives, and legislative lifting of immunity of parliament members against criminal prosecution.
Constructive and enhanced contacts between the various branches of state authority and are being made. Now actively participate in open discussions and debates on all issues related to policy measures. Along with state employees, representatives of nongovernmental organizations and the private sector take part in activities of special councils and expert working groups on elaboration of draft laws, national, sectoral and regional programs.
78. Active measures are being implemented to improve transparency and openness of decision making through further expansion of information technologies in management, and gradual transition to the system of “electronic” government. The existing information network contains information on legislation, provides statistical and other data on social and economic development, and informs about important events. The state computer network and the official state web portal offer an open feedback mechanism. Despite the rapid introduction of new information and computer technologies, this area needs additional financing and considerable investment to develop appropriate infrastructure and ensure accessibility of the system to all regions of the Republic.
79. Special consideration has been accorded to promotion of democratic principles in economic activities of people, development of free competition, spreading of corporate principles and encouragement of producers’ cooperatives. Another fast growing area is establishment of local associations of users of financial, water, energy, and other resources and expansion of production and social infrastructure in local communities. Emergence and strengthening of the new public force represented by local self-government is evidence of growing democratisation in society. Intensive formation of civil society has helped to set conditions for effective social partnership of the State and public initiative, with more active involvement of socially responsible businesses, active participation of civil society in public and political life, and wider joint discussion and adoption of the most important state programs and legislation. There are currently over 3,500 registered, public organizations, political parties, and movements of various sorts in Kyrgyzstan. Their social demands made in a great variety of forms, represent the interests of communities and individual citizens. The number and the role of independent mass media that represent a wide spectrum of opinion are also growing.
80. A new direction in the democratisation of society is implementation of the new national idea expressed by the President of Kyrgyz Republic, “Kyrgyzstan – a country of human rights”. The President has approved the National Human Rights Program for 2002-2010 and the corresponding action plan. The Democratic Code and a Concept for Development of the Democratic Security Council are being developed. A position of Ombudsman has been established.
81. There are still many issues that need to be resolved to promote the development of democratic institutions.
The elections system and the procedures for forming elected government bodies will benefit from further improvements. In particular, this refers to further increase in representation of political parties, local communities, and n the Jogorku Kenesh, appointment of judges by election, and greater political responsibility of elected bodies to voters. The most numerous democratic institutions – aiyl okmotu - should be empowered and supported by necessary resources. The newly elected LSG leaders find themselves in a difficult position. Many of them lack basic experience in managing local communities.
Local communities are in need of financial and technical resources that are necessary to address local issues, while government bodies lack competent and professional staff capable of organizing activities to foster development of villages and towns. People lack information on the operation of government agencies, while the authorities are unaware of the social mood and state of things in local communities. As a result of insufficient use of social management technologies on the part of management bodies at various levels, there appear instances of uncivilised forms of opposition and confrontation (political, interethnic, social, and so forth) in resolution of debates and disputes.
Participation by the people in the use of financial resources, land, real estate, and public infrastructure is not always fair and controlled. Quite often, state agencies and officials either violate or ignore the constitutional rights and freedoms of people. Due to ideological vagueness and organizational weakness, the role that political parties have in social affairs, state policy formation, and protection of constructive interests of various social groups, is quite insignificant.
Lack the fund-raising skills necessary for survival and development and, thus, are greatly dependent on donors and sponsors. The use of available resources for support of ethnic development and enforcement of human rights of ethnic groups is still inefficient.
Mass media do not have an adequate financial basis. Some newspapers underestimate the legal and economic implications of their publications and do not have the legal skills to protect their rights. There is much room for development as regards the professionalism and ethics among mass media workers. An effective mechanism of public control over the state media is needed. There is no legislation regulating activities of electronic media and the Internet.
82. The main goal is to create a system of democratic institutions that will ensure effective participation by all competent elements of the community in addressing poverty issues, ensuring sustainable development of individuals, society and the State.
83. The expansion of the public base and transparency of the state governance
It is necessary to ensure wide accessibility of information on the operation of state agencies to civil society. This will provide for and encourage better informational transparency of all state government agencies. Free access to publicly relevant information will foster fair public administration and a free society. Publicity by the authorities on their activities will promote greater public awareness; help people make knowledgeable choice on ideological preferences; address economic, social, and other issues; opportunities of public participation in assessment of state decisions and control over their execution. Not a single state decision should be made without wide discussion with the community and consideration of public opinion. The authorities, especially local government and civil servants, must learn not only to listen to public opinion but also to make decisions based on valid public demands. All state government agencies must continue to seek socially accountable procedures for making and implementing decisions.
The distributive functions of the State must be transparent and balanced, and their execution accompanied by effective control mechanisms. The creation of an effective LSG system with adequate financial and economic foundation is one of the other key tasks. A procedure should be developed to include local community leaders in the decision making process of regional and state importance. It is necessary to strengthen the role of LSG in addressing local community issues, formation and implementation of comprehensive development plans, and carrying out activities with donors and investors.
84. Implementation of the national idea, “Kyrgyzstan – a country of human rights”
The following measures should help to realize the national ideal: elaboration of the Democratic Code and Concept for the Development of the Democratic Security Council, effective work of the institute of the ombudsman, and implementation of activities provide for in the National Human Rights Program. A special role is to be played by judicial reform and the institution of advocacy that must provide legal support and means of public control over observance of laws and human rights. Society must possess mechanisms of civil control over the military and law enforcement bodies. Community based human rights organizations must be adequately supported. Ethnic development and protection of the rights of ethnic minorities should be given priority attention. To this end, new state guarantees and mechanisms should be developed to support ethnic development, regulate interethnic relations, and expand opportunities for participation of ethnic groups in state administration.
Observance of religious rights and legislative regulation of religious affairs should be given serious consideration. It is necessary to cooperate with religious movements and groups that have significant spiritual influence among the poor, and actively resist religious extremism. A gender policy that provides for the integration of gender equity principles into state administration, support for women’s organizations, and protection of women’s rights will be actively promoted. In addition to state measures on protection of children’s and youth’s rights, support should be provided for development of children’s and youth movements.
85. Democratisation of economic institutions
Along with other actions for the promotion of economic activities and free competition, a strategy for the creation of associations of commodity producers and consumers will be pursued and some regulatory state functions will be gradually delegated to community associations and trade unions. In view of the formation of new forms of ownership, as well as the emergence of joint stock companies and private firms and farms, it is necessary to restore the system of trade unions designed to democratise internal management and protect workers’ rights. Community control should be exercised over the execution of state and local budgets, activities of banks, pension and investment funds that manage financial resources of people.
86. Improving the role of political parties in public life
Political parties representing the interests of large social groups should strengthen and their representation in the parliament should increase. They should gain access to the state decision-making process carried out by the President and the Executive.
87. Development of civil society institutions and enhancing their role in public administration, development of state policy, and control over state agencies remain priorities of the democratisation process. One of the objectives is to achieve better involvement of the nongovernment sector in national affairs and move from confrontation to reasonable cooperation on principles of domestic unity. There are real opportunities for redistribution of functions and responsibilities between the State and NGOs. Many state functions should be transferred to the nongovernment sector. The community should participate in and control the state systems of social assistance, education and health care.
NGOs should receive assistance in fund-raising to support their operation and development, and ensure their independence. Society and the State must find ways of supporting the mass media. At the same time, there should be legal and public mechanisms keeping the media within the rule of law and common moral principles.
88. Key mechanisms for the implementation of priorities
The legislation should be reviewed and made more favourable for development of democratic institutions (elaboration of draft laws on electronic media and public broadcasting, introduction of amendments to the Elections Code, laws on political parties and LSG, etc.).
New social partnership mechanisms must be introduced together with effective models of cooperation between the state and civil institutions. Regular public hearings will be held, bringing together representatives of professional and specialized community organizations, parliament members, local councils, and members of the Government. Most of the important national issues should pass through a procedure of public hearings.
Positive results can be gained from organizing public examination of legislation related to LSG and activities of NGOs, as it is being considered by parliament. Similar arrangements can be made in regions – public examination of compliance of regional legislation, charters, and other legal documents developed by local authorities, with the European Charter of LSG, other international documents, as well as the Constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic. Systematic public discussion of such matters must become a widespread national and regional practice.
It is intended to continue the practice of conducting community discussions involving experts on various state policies (the pension system, support payments, energy tariffs, communal services, land and state property privatization, and so forth). Resident working groups will be established comprising representatives of state government, LSG, community and not-for-profit organizations. These working groups will review legislation related to social partnership, develop methodological materials, analyze and spread positive experience of addressing socio-economic issues by the LSG.
The Government must hold systematic political consultations with political parties.
It is envisaged to create a system of support for NGOs, establish foundations and programs to assist NGOs with seeking resources and ensure implementation of various specific projects. The tradition of constructive dialogue, social partnership, and cooperation between the branches of government and the community will be further developed. Such cooperative mechanisms will be implemented through conventions, forums, rural meetings, round tables, and private meetings of state officials with citizens.
89. Democratic institutions will be financed from various sources. The State will continue to finance elections and activities of LSG bodies. Assistance will be provided for seeking and attracting extra-budgetary resources (mostly grants) to fund activities of various democratic institutions. Private donations, political parties and NGOs will also support development of democratic institutions.
90. The impact of measures for the development of democratic institutions will have a multiplying effect as a result of the anticipated increase in social activity and involvement of various strata of the society in the implementation of NPRS and CDF programs. The anticipated outcomes include:
Free public access to information on activities of state agencies and local authorities; a system of on-line inquiries into state agencies.
Community participation in making decisions that concern general community interests; civil control and assessment of decisions and actions made by state agencies.
Transparent budgeting and increased role of the society in development and execution of budgets on all levels.
Greater economic freedom and participation of people in addressing economic issues affecting the community and a greater role of stakeholders in joint stock companies; larger network of community organizations for support of entrepreneurship.
Empowered local authorities with greater role in representation and implementation of people’s interests.
Compliance to international human rights agreements; well-developed human rights protection system.
Transparent judicial process; civil and public control over the quality of administering justice.
Compliance with international agreements on observance of human rights of minorities; a well-developed system for promotion of ethnic development.
Guaranteed liberty of conscience; a society that tolerates many viewpoints.
Public system and mechanisms for representation and protection of the rights of children and youth.
Introduction of gender equity approaches into activities of state and non-state agencies.
Strong political parties with wide social base, increased role of political parties in the political life of the country.
A system of social partnership, real participation of civil society organizations in political life and involvement in political decision making.
Enhanced control over the quality of educational and health services, effectiveness of using budget and extra-budgetary resources.
Development of mass media.