Nelson Mandela Centenary - UNODC Promotes Humane Approach to Prison Management in Central Asia

On 18 July, Central Asian countries joined the rest of the world to mark Nelson Mandela International Day and raise awareness about prisoners being a continuous part of society and express appreciation to prison staff for their important work and service to their communities.

"This year's observance of the day is special, given that we celebrate what would have been the 100th birthday of Nelson Mandela", said Ms. Ashita Mittal, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Regional Representative for Central Asia. "UNODC is committed to assist the Central Asian countries to promote humane conditions of imprisonment and ensure no

part of society is forgotten."

Nelson Mandela International Day was established in 2009 to coincide with the former South African President's birthday and has since had one simple goal - to help change the world for the better. The day has grown into more than simply a celebration of Nelson Mandela's life and legacy and is now a call to continue his work to improve the lives of people everywhere.

To mark Nelson Mandela International Day in Central Asia, UNODC partnered with authorities and prison administrations throughout the region to organize a wide range of public awareness raising initiatives drawing attention to the importance of implementing the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, known as the Nelson Mandela Rules.

In Kyrgyzstan, UNODC and the Prison Service of the Kyrgyz Republic organized a volleyball tournament - one among prisoners and the second among prison staff in one of the largest male penitentiary facilities. In Turkmenistan, the National Institute for Democracy and Human Rights under the President of Turkmenistan hosted an interactive lecture and contest on the Nelson Mandela Rules for cadets of the Police Academy and students of the State University of Turkmenistan's Law faculty and the Institute for International Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In Uzbekistan, UNODC teamed up with the General Prosecutor's Office to produce a video on the Nelson Mandela Rules and ongoing reform efforts in the country for wide broadcasting on national TV. A roundtable on the development of penal legislation is also planned in August.

As the guardian of the Nelson Mandela Rules, UNODC is responsible for providing technical assistance and advisory services to Member States in the field of penal reform. To achieve this goal, UNODC supports Central Asian countries to reduce the scope of imprisonment, strengthen prison management, help to raise prison standards and ensure the reintegration of prisoners upon their release.     

Well-managed prisons and the treatment of prisoners consistent with international standards and norms for crime prevention and criminal justice is a precondition for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 16 aimed at promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, ensuring access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

In December 2015, the General Assembly adopted the revised United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. The rules are a blueprint for prison management to address these issues, and provide solutions based on the core principles of security, safety and dignity within all prisons and for all prisoners. The rules result from five years of inter-governmental consultations and represent a landmark harmonization of the original version (1957) with international law and good prison management practices.


For additional information please contact Vasilina Brazhko (Ms.),

National Communication/PR Officer, UNODC ROCA

Tel.: +996 775 98 78 17, email: vasilina.brazhko[at]