Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Uzbekistan: UK response [March 2023]

The press release issued by the Foreign Office on 9 March 2023.

Deputy Ambassador Brown thanks Hans-Ulrich Ihm from the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Uzbekistan for the team’s work, including on cyber security, human rights, and climate change.

Thank you, Mr Chair. I would like to welcome you Mr Ihm to the Permanent Council and thank you and your team for your report and work over the last year.

The UK has continued to build our relationship with Uzbekistan and is committed to supporting the Government there in carrying out its wide-ranging reforms, which we hope will continue at pace in the coming year.

My ambassador had the pleasure of visiting Uzbekistan and your field mission in November and was encouraged by the field mission’s relationship with the Government of Uzbekistan’s foreign ministry, their interest in engaging with the mission on human rights issues, and their recognition of the importance of countering disinformation and providing reliable official communication.

It was clear from my visit that your mission can clearly play a major role in assisting the Government of Uzbekistan with their planned reforms, as well on issues like gender equality; the economy and environment; climate; and on strengthening resilience on transnational threats, including cyber.

I would like to focus my remarks on some of these areas.

First, we welcome your mission’s prioritisation of cyber security and efforts to support the host government to strengthen its national capacity to effectively address these.

Second, the UK is deeply concerned by the risks climate change poses to the long term security and prosperity of Central Asia, and fully supports the OSCE’s activities helping to mitigate its impact in Uzbekistan. The Glasgow Climate Pact recognised the importance of mitigation by keeping nationally determined contributions (NDCs) on the UNFCCC agenda, and we call on the Government of Uzbekistan to commit to ambitious NDCs. Concerted climate action has become more important as attention is forced away from the climate crisis by Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Thirdly, we acknowledge the work of the OSCE in promoting democratic policing principles and encourage the Uzbek government to address alleged human rights abuses. The UK was deeply concerned by events in Karakalpakstan in July 2022, and we call on the Government of Uzbekistan to follow a transparent process as they bring security forces to account where necessary. Protecting human rights is a cornerstone of the OSCE. We welcome democratic principles being embedded in the constitution, and the consultative process being followed in identifying these changes. We hope the ODIHR will be invited to observe the postponed referendum on constitutional reform.

We thank the OSCE for their work highlighting the role of media and civil society. Media Freedom is essential to democracy, allowing citizens to directly engage with government. During his trip to Uzbekistan my ambassador met with members of civil society. We encourage the mission in Uzbekistan to support the Uzbek government in fostering an enabling environment for civil society.

We also welcome the work of the mission in addressing gender-based violence. We have conducted a series of training events in Uzbekistan for religious leaders and law enforcement in cooperation with UNFPA on addressing gender-based violence.

In closing let me thank the team in Uzbekistan for their efforts in upholding the principles of the OSCE, and ensuring their important work continues, particularly in light of the considerable challenges caused by the blocking of the unified budget. We hope that staffing issues do not reduce the efficacy of the office in 2023.

Thank you.