Tashkent (Uzbekistan), 1 December 2020 — Like much of the rest of the world, Uzbekistan continues to grapple with the health and socioeconomic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Uzbeks have faced a loss of income due to the economic slowdown associated with the outbreak of COVID-19 and young people below the age of 30 — who make up 56% of the population— are significantly affected in terms of reduced access to socio-economic opportunities.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have partnered with Uzbekistan’s Youth Affairs Agency and other national local counterparts to support the implementation of the country’s youth policy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the generous support of the UN Peacebuilding Fund, the initiative aims at increasing the youth’s opportunities for self-fulfillment and to pilot new models for the government to deliver services inclusively across the Fergana Valley.
A key objective of the initiative is to provide young women and men in the Fergana Valley with greater opportunities to learn about their legal and social rights. Whether it’s access to education, social services, personal identification and other documents, or property and land rights — the project aims at helping them overcome civic issues they may face in their everyday life.
Following a recent training of 20 young lawyers on 28 and 29 October 2020, the project partners opened 3 new legal clinics in the cities of Fergana, Andijan and Namangan.
“We are committed to running these clinics at the premises of our youth unions in the Fergana Valley,” noted the Director of the Youth Affairs Agency, Mr. Alisher Sadullayev, at the opening ceremony for the Andijan clinic.
“Legal aid is an essential element of a fair, humane and efficient justice system that is based on the rule of law. We are proud to make a contribution to improving legal aid in Uzbekistan and to support the authorities in their efforts to create an enabling environment for the country’s youth to grow and thrive,” stressed Mrs. Ashita Mittal, UNODC Regional Representative for Central Asia.
Lawyers, psychologists and social workers will be engaged at the clinics to provide various types of legal advice, assistance, and representation — mostly in civil and administrative cases, but also in criminal cases when needed.
The clinics will also involve university and college law students who will have an opportunity to support the work of the clinics. Under close supervision, over 60 law students are expected to complete internships at the clinics on an annual basis.
The joint UN initiative will continue to work with the Youth Affairs Agency and other national partners to provide young people from diverse backgrounds with key competencies and opportunities to constructively participate in community life and act as key agents of change, to develop skills and knowledge that foster their employability and entrepreneurship and positively influence attitudes to prevent anti-social behavior, and create cooperation platforms between young people and local administrations in the Fergana Valley.