THE ROLE OF FAMILIES AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW
Sustainable Development Goals set out for 2030 by UN has established ambitious goals of improving lifestyles of all people on earth while improving the environment that we live in. Every attempt to improving life standards starts with improving the environment that we are living in and ultimately affects the same environment. The smallest environment that can be taken on individual level is family. Improving health, wealth, psychological and emotional well-being, future prospects of every individual should start with the family and ultimately culminate in creation of harmonious families.
From Japan to the USA and from Russia to Australia, smallest unit of society is family and the value of family is recognized universally even though definition may vary from country to country or even from family to family. Regardless of variances in definition, universally family is the smallest environment where human being can prosper. Therefore, family based policies for improving health, education; prosperity and well-being of population are likely to be the most effective ones.
This paper will analyze the effectiveness of family oriented policies in a) eliminating poverty or lifting people above poverty line and b) improving health, emotional and psychological well-being of children. This paper also examines the commitments relating to the family that Uzbekistan has undertaken under various human rights treaties that have been adopted over decades. The aim of the paper is to review progress of family oriented legislation since 1991 and outline the effects of each legislation with degrees of effectiveness. To limit the breadth of the review only legislation of the Republic of the Uzbekistan will be analyzed over 27 years of independence (1991-2018). However, the research should allow to basket policies into nationwide and statewide or region-wide legislations and local initiatives. Each legislation or group of legal tools aimed at certain objective will be analyzed against its objectives and results in above-mentioned areas.
Based on the review of international experiences in family oriented policy making and the status of the family in Uzbek community and legislation, researcher expects to find strong positive correlation between policies aimed at protecting and promoting family well-being and reduction of poverty and well-being of young generation in Uzbekistan. Research will consider provision, presence and attainment of education as factor contributing to the results rather than outcome. However, this area could be the topic of another research.
Keywords: SDGs, family well-being, legislation of Uzbekistan, human rights, eliminating poverty.
AİLE VE SÜRDÜRÜLEBİLİR KALKINMA ROLÜ: ULUSLARARASI İNSAN HAKLARI HUKUKU
BM tarafından 2030 için belirlenen Sürdürülebilir Kalkınma Hedefleri, yaşadığımız çevreyi iyileştirirken dünyadaki tüm insanların yaşam tarzlarını iyileştirmeye yönelik iddialı hedefler belirlemiştir. Yaşam standartlarını iyileştirmeye yönelik her girişim, içinde bulunduğumuz çevreyi iyileştirmekle başlar ve sonuçta aynı çevreyi etkiler. Bireysel düzeyde alınabilecek en küçük çevre ailedir. Sağlık, refah, psikolojik ve duygusal refahın iyileştirilmesi, her bireyin gelecekteki umutları aile ile başlamalı ve sonuçta uyumlu aileler yaratma ile sonuçlanmalıdır.
Japonya’dan ABD’ye ve Rusya’dan Avustralya’ya, en küçük toplum birimi ailedir ve tanımı ülkeden ülkeye ve hatta aileden aileye değişse de, ailenin değeri evrensel olarak tanınmaktadır. Tanımdaki farklılıklara bakılmaksızın, evrensel olarak aile, insanın gelişebileceği en küçük ortamdır. Bu nedenle, sağlığı, eğitimi, refahı ve nüfusun refahını geliştirmek için aile temelli politikalar en etkili olanlar olacaktır.
Bu makale, aile odaklı politikaların etkinliğini, a) yoksulluğu ortadan kaldırmak veya yoksulluk sınırının üstündeki insanları kaldırmak ve b) çocukların sağlık, duygusal ve psikolojik iyi oluşlarını iyileştirmek amacıyla değerlendirecektir. Bu makale aynı zamanda, Özbekistan’ın on yıllardır kabul edilen çeşitli insan hakları sözleşmeleri kapsamında üstlendiği aileye ilişkin taahhütleri de incelemektedir. Makalenin amacı, 1991’den bu yana aile odaklı mevzuatın ilerlemesini gözden geçirmek ve her bir mevzuatın etkililik dereceleriyle etkilerini ortaya koymaktır. İncelemenin genişliğini sınırlandırmak için sadece Özbekistan Cumhuriyeti mevzuatı 27 yıllık bağımsızlık çerçevesinde analiz edilecektir (1991-2018). Bununla birlikte, araştırma politikaları ulusal ve eyalet çapında ya da bölge genelindeki yasalara ve yerel girişimlere yerleştirmeye izin vermelidir. Belirli bir amaca yönelik her yasa veya yasal araç grubu, yukarıda belirtilen alanlarda amaçlarına ve sonuçlarına göre analiz edilecektir.
Aile odaklı politika oluşturma konusundaki uluslararası deneyimlerin ve Özbek toplumundaki ailenin durumu ile mevzuatın incelenmesine dayanarak araştırmacı, aile refahını korumayı ve geliştirmeyi ve yoksulluğun azaltılmasının ve refahın azaltılmasını amaçlayan politikalar arasında güçlü bir pozitif ilişki bulmayı beklemektedir Özbekistan’da genç nesiller. Araştırmalar eğitimin sağlanmasını, varlığını ve elde edilmesini, sonuçtan çok sonuçlara katkıda bulunan faktör olarak değerlendirecektir. Ancak, bu alan başka bir araştırmanın konusu olabilir.
Anahtar Sözcükler: SKH, aile refahı, Özbekistan mevzuatı, insan hakları, yoksulluğu ortadan kaldırmak.
“The illustrious ancients, when they wished to make clear and to propagate the highest virtues in the world, put their states in proper order. Before putting their states in proper order, they regulated their families. Before regulating their families, they cultivated their own selves…When their selves were cultivated, their families become regulated. When their families became regulated, their states came to be put into proper order”
According to Confucius’s ancient and proven principle that the world cannot be put in order without first putting in order the family.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out in the aftermath of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2016 is the most ambitious set of goals put forward by global community in its history. Structural difference between SDGs and MDGs is that MDGs were more vague directives open to interpretation and allowed choice of application. SDGs on the other hand are more detailed, oriented, and target specific. Each of the 17 goals has specific targets and measurement indicators to be used globally to scale the progress of countries or specific geographic regions. However, strategies through which these targets can be achieved are still open to discussion and choice from country to country or nation to nation.
In a groundbreaking paper titled “Are women the key to sustainable development”, Candice Stevens of Boston University showed how achieving gender equality and promoting women in all areas targeted by SDGs makes economic, social and environmental sense. More particularly, author managed to show how global community deprive itself of better rewards by not targeting women as channels for sustainable development.
In similar manner, it is worth exploring how family oriented policies can serve as a channel to achieve most of the SDGs. This paper in particular will focus on first and most important three SDGs:
a) achieving zero hunger via family oriented policies and role of family in fighting famine
b) ending poverty via family oriented policies and role of family in reducing/ending poverty
c) ensure healthy lives and promote physical, psychological, spiritual, moral, mental well-being of children and mothers via family oriented policies and role of family in promoting holistic well-being
Family oriented policies are expected to work best in countries where family serves as a building block of society and local communities thus allowing the institution of family to have a bigger effect on overall well-being and prosperity of community via its sharing/transferring function. Uzbekistan represents one of those countries where family plays vital role in the fabric of society and state historically, culturally and statistically. Currently there are more than seven million registered family unions with close to 300 thousand marriages taking place on annual basis. In addition, country boasts one of the lowest divorce rates globally.
Policies directed at bringing families out of poverty via cash transfers have had positive effects in multiple areas of people’s lives across the globe. Besides reducing monetary poverty, these policies have improved living conditions and consumption patterns, provided better access to health care, granted better access to education and better educational outcomes for children (especially in case of child allowances), empowered women and girls in families and society thus creating better gender equity, improved the employability of people living below poverty lines, and last but not the least reduced inequality between layers of society. All in all, properly structured policies directed at fighting poverty allow governments to achieve targets in six or seven SDGs besides SDG 1 and therefore would constitute an investment well-made.
Biggest benefit of family oriented policies is that in a family context achieving zero hunger and eliminating poverty become blended goal. This allows doubling the output while keeping input constant. Acknowledging importance of institution of family in the nation Uzbekistan was one of the first countries to ratify UN conventions on family protection, child protection and children’s health. Next historical steps included solidifying status of institution of family in the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan and adopting a Family Code.
However, current problems demand modern solutions and SDGs compel governments to take grassroots measures to achieve targets. The latest policy measure implemented by the government of Uzbekistan was aligning 5 year Action Strategy on Priority Development Areas of Uzbekistan to support and provide renewed momentum to the development and strengthening of the institution of family. This document that is valued by most scholars for its detailed coverage of economic, political, legal and industrial development of the country also includes specific roadmap to increase the available social assistance to vulnerable members of the society, strengthening the status of women in public and political life, reformation of healthcare system and addresses provision of employment opportunities for women.
More specifically, Sustainable Development Goals were translated into action plan by Cabinet of Ministers of Uzbekistan. The Cabinet outlined national targets and goals derived from SDGs as instilled by UN and from stage of development Uzbekistan going through and ambitions of the nation. In addition, coordination council was established to supervise, direct and monitor the implementation of National program to achieve targets and goals. Construction of Roadmap and enlisting specialists, experts and contributors in the agenda also fell on the shoulders of coordinating council that consists of members of several ministries of Uzbek government. National Sustainable Goals and Targets of the Republic of Uzbekistan details tailored goals and targets for every SDGs presented by UN. If some goals are accepted as presented by UN in its entirety, others are added upon, and yet others are specified for local conditions. For example, the very first of the SDGs of eradicating poverty is accepted in its entirety and added on by including specific targets of making land plots, bank credits or other means of pulling vulnerable people out of poverty. Whereas, third SDG of providing free preliminary education for all is narrowed down to improving quality of provided education, as Uzbekistan already provides free and mandatory primary and secondary education for all citizens and boast literacy rate of 99%.
Action Strategy on Priority Development Areas outlined every player to contribute to sustainable development via supporting families rather than setting one organization as responsible party. For instance, in the aftermath of the publication of Action Strategy on Priority Development Areas commercial banks almost doubled volume of credits provided to female entrepreneurs from 3.8 billion soums in 2014-2016 period to 6.1 billion soums in 2017-2018 period. Women’s Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan went in similar path and managed to obtain credit lines with interest rates below Central Bank lending rate (below inflation rate) to support families and females in business.
National initiatives to foster prosperity in families and especially among women has had trickledown effect throughout the country. To begin with local governments pledged as many unused buildings free of charge to set up production or service facilities for employment of females as necessary which allowed creation of more than 2300 workshops employing almost 16000 females. Around the country, institution of “Mahalla” (neighborhood) channeled its powers to identify families in need and unemployed females who could benefit from social assistance, training or possible employment opportunities. As a result of efforts of “Mahalla” institution 245 thousand unemployed females were identified, 10 thousand of those were living under poverty line. In 2018, all of those women were employed.
Another program rolled out in every region of Uzbekistan is reconciliation commissions established in every “Mahalla” to support peace and harmony in families. Focus of these commissions is to help families experiencing turbulence to reach compromise and to get back to harmonious way of life. For instance, in Andijan region, smallest region in the country, around 4500 cases out of approximately 5000 found positive resolution via reconciliation commissions. By keeping families together, reconciliation commission are increasing chances of people to stay well above poverty line and ensure beneficial atmosphere for the children of those families in other regions such as Namangan and Bukhara too.
However, it needs to be noted, for all what is happening around the regions is nothing but trickledown effect of nationwide initiatives. Research through the legislation, local media and interviews did not reveal original initiatives or efforts originating in particular regions of Uzbekistan. For that matter, no regional versions of nationwide policies adapted to local culture, demographics, needs of families have not been detected either. In a country where more than 65 nationalities cohabit in 12 different regions and one autonomous republic each with unique demography, geography and culture, locally tailored programs should be expected and delivered.
In addition to national and regional efforts, institutional cooperation has yielded great results in supporting and strengthening families and their role in achieving targets of sustainable development goals. Especially, cooperation of local governments and non-government organizations with international organizations has allowed to translate the international experience into locally tailored programs.
One of the ongoing coordinated collective efforts has been between Women’s Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan and UNFPA. In collaboration, these two organisations have been working on implementing family planning in Uzbek families. Goal of the collaboration is instilling family planning in Uzbek families as basic human rights and encouraging government to carry out its obligations in making the tools for protecting reproductive health organs available.
Cooperation between Children’s Village “SOS” in Uzbekistan, European Union, and UNICEF has encompassed children from struggling families from three regions of Uzbekistan, namely Tashkent, Khorezm, and Samarqand. As a result, around 15 thousand children from approximately 5 thousand families have benefited in the form of social and financial assistance, summer vacation in camps and making friends with children from other regions.
United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has been assisting local government and non-government agencies with statistical legal analysis and research, and direct interviews and discussion with vulnerable families.
Family Policies and Ensuring Healthy Lives around the Globe
Given the important role of lifestyle choices (e.g. diet, physical exercise) on health outcomes, the family environment (including living standards, routines and joint lifestyle choices) inevitably play an important role in the prevention of diseases. Many health behaviors are often established in childhood and carried through to adulthood – parents and other family members therefore can act as early promoters of healthy living. Families can play an influential role in the formation of support networks for adolescents. Conversely, they can constitute a source of stress and depression. Finally, very dysfunctional families can also harbor perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse, leading to physical injury, hospitalization, and mental ill-health.
Consequently family based health intervention, in the form of health education and family based treatment of non-communicable diseases have proved themselves to be more effective than individual approach to health care across continents in South Asia, East Asia, Latin America, Australia, North America and Europe. Health education programs and information dissemination efforts that had families as their focus achieved notable results in healthy nutrition and developing healthy eating habits, subjects had better overall control over their conditions and had better knowledge of their well-being, allowed to fight depression, improved major physical health indicators such as weight loss, hospitalization rates dropped and suicide rate diminished significantly. In these entire efforts role of family partners were more significant than the role of the rest of the family members.
Ensuring healthy life should start before birth, more specifically in the family planning period. Tremendous amount of research in the area has made it common wisdom that children born in planned families are healthier and enjoy better opportunities than children born in families without a plan. Even though, promotion of family planning has been continuous in the country since late 1990s in the form sex education and other pedagogic materials, efforts have reached the remotest areas of Uzbekistan only in the last decade.
Recent table-top conference organized by Women’s Committee in association with UNFPA involved researchers and scholars in the field, ministers and other representatives from government, journalists and representatives of education institutions. Position of UNFPA representatives regarding family planning resonated with public opinion as they too see family planning as human right and tool to achieve SDGs.
Positive trend that increases the hope for healthier and stronger families lies in the choice young people are making. Social polls have shown that nowadays men consider ages of 24-25 to be a good time to start a family while this number lies in the vicinity of 21-23 years for young women. This shows that young people are prioritizing education and starting a profession in the first stages of their adult life over family, which should lay a foundation for strong and healthy families in future.
Stance of government to provide healthy lifestyle for children is mostly reflected in the conditions created for mothers. Maternity leave is seen as sacred right of women in professional circles and government guarantees 12 months paid leave of absence after childbirth while employers are obliged to keep the position of the mother for 36 months and rehire the employee if and when the employee want to come back.
However, shortcoming of legislation is recognizing the duties of father in childrearing alongside mother. For instance, in Scandinavian countries men and women receive equal support and work break from government and employees. Uzbekistan could learn from those countries to promote better psychological support from fathers to children and mothers.
To provide in crisis situations, rehabilitation centers for women around the country have been established. 159 centers around the country are designed to help women who have suffered rape to overcome physical, psychological and moral struggles of suffering rape.
International norms and Family Code
Convergence of international norms and Uzbek legislation starts at constitutional level, the highest legal power in Uzbekistan. The very first legal document, the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan, proclaims equality between men and women, protection of motherhood and the childhood, a principle of the free and equal marriage, the equal responsibility of parents for the maintenance and education of their children. In Uzbekistan, all second tier legal documents, meaning codes, are aligned to the first tier legal document the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan, which compiled up to best international standards.
The Republic of Uzbekistan, having joined to UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discriminations against Women and a number of other international documents, has undertaken obligations on realization of a policy of non-discrimination against women and for this purpose has accepted the appropriate legislation establishing women rights legal protection, increase of their status in the state and public life.
From the analysis given in the main part below recommendations can be deduced:
a) Countries should be able to construct their own strategies based on their local, ethnic, economic, cultural unique features while drawing wisdom from UN recommendations and international experience
b) policy initiatives should be generated on national, regional, community based and family based levels
c) effort should be made to welcome and elucidate solutions and recommendations to eliminate poverty and hunger directly from people who are suffering from the same
d) children for children efforts should be encouraged where children interact with other children who might have experienced poverty, overcome ill health or turbulent family life.
e) cash transfer programs aimed reducing poverty should have monitoring devices to analyze multi-layer effects of the program
Uzbekistan as the most populous country of Central Asian region and third most populous country of former soviet republics is clearly representative of a society with deeply ingrained family values. Uzbek people have always prioritized family and family values on individual and national level. Uzbekistan declared the preservation of the family institute as one of its priorities and has invested a lot of money and efforts to create the most favorable conditions so that mothers give birth and raise a healthy and happy generation. To this end, a number of state programs have been implemented in the country in recent years, which were aimed at improving medical services for the population and specifically women and children. Several years have been named years of Motherhood, Childhood, Family and in similar tone to reflect the specific efforts being made to strengthen the institution of family. Latest one of those initiative was in 2016 when the year was named “The Year of Healthy Mother and Healthy Child” and nationwide efforts were made to improve the health of mothers and children.
As such, family oriented policies are extremely effective in the context of Uzbekistan to reduce poverty, eliminate hunger and improve health of the population and the government is making full use of this tool. However, regional governments need to become more active in these efforts and offer more locally tailored programs.
* Director of the National Human Rights Centre of the Republic of Uzbekistan; Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan
Human Rights Committee., General Comment No.19, para 2
 From “The Great Learning,” quoted in Will Durant, The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002), 12; and see Wing-Tsit Chan, A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969), 86-87.
 Candice, S., “Are women the key to sustainable development”. Boston University Frederick S. Parede Center for the Study of Long-Range Future, available at: https://hdl.handle.net/2144/22685
 United Nations, Sustainable Development Goals, available at: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/21252030%20Agenda%20for%20Sustainable%20Development%20web.pdf (Italicized parts introduced by author to provide specificity and indicate direction in which this paper will go)
The Destination, “Uzbekistan: family and society” available at: <http://www.thedestination.com.pk/uzbekistan-family-and-society/>
 Key Findings on Families, Family Policy and the Sustainable Development Goals: Synthesis Report, UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti. Florence, 2018.
 Uzbekistan ratified Convention on Children’s Rights (1989) as soon as it became independent and integrated the postulates from the convention into nation’s constitution
 Articles 63 and 64 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan obliges the government to protect the institution of family and obliges the parents to care for their under age children
 Family Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Adopted September 1st, 1998
 Tashkentimes, “Uzbekistan’s Development Strategy for 2017-2021 has been adopted following public consultation” available at: <http://tashkenttimes.uz/national/541-uzbekistan-s-development-strategy-for-2017-2021-has-been-adopted-following- >
 Ibid 4
 Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan dated 20 October 2018 №841
 UN, “National Sustainable Goals and Targets of the Republic of Uzbekistan” available at:< http://un.uz/files/UN%20in%20Uzbekistan/National%20SDGs%20Brochure/SDG%20(3).pdf>
 Uzdaily, “Discussed measures to fundamentally improve activities in the field of supporting women and strengthening the family” available at: <https://www.uzdaily.uz/ru/post/41457 banks pledged 100 billion soums for this initiative>
 Uzdaily, available at :< https://www.uzdaily.uz/ru/post/41457>
 Facts and details, “Families, women and children in Uzbekistan” available at: < http://factsanddetails.com/central-asia/Uzbekistan/sub8_3d/entry-4706.html>
 Uzdaily, “Family planning is important for ensuring the health of women and children” available at: < https://www.uzdaily.uz/ru/post/38442 >
 Uzdaily, “Vulnerable families will receive social support” available at: < https://www.uzdaily.uz/ru/post/37008 >
UNDP, “Re-thinking social care for vulnerable citizens” available at: < http://www.uz.undp.org/content/uzbekistan/en/home/ourperspective/ourperspectivearticles/2015/10/23/re-thinking-social-care-for-vulnerable-citizens.html >
 HBSC (2010). ‘Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Study’, Available at: < www.hbsc.org>.
 Key Findings on Families, Family Policy and the Sustainable Development Goals: Synthesis Report, UNICEF Office of Research-Innocent. Florence, 2018.
 Ibid 16
 Ibid 4
 The Family Code and Labour Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan
 Ibid 14
 Articles 46, 64 and 65 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan obliges the government to protect the institution of family and obliges the parents to care for their under age children
 TSUL, “Family law” available at:< http://files.tsul.uz/student/12.pdf >
 Asian Development Bank, “Gender Expertise of Family And Labour Codes of The Republic of Uzbekistan” available at: <https://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/publication/29074/gender-en.pdf>
 Yodgorov, KH., Right of Under Age Children for Material Support