In-depth

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Students at the Dashoguz Agricultural Institute discuss barrier-free environment for people with disabilities (Photo: UNDP in Turkmenistan)

Following the election in February 2007 of Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov as President of Turkmenistan, the Government announced a broad reform agenda the ultimate objective of which was to increase the living standards in the country to the level of developed countries. Since then, Turkmenistan has made progress around compliance with international human rights treaty obligations, while legal reforms for harmonizing national legislation with international standards are ongoing. There is a need to strengthen rule of law and access to justice for people at large, as well as civil society activity. In this process, Turkmenistan partners with UNDP to improve democratic governance in the country by strengthening the legislative capacity of members of national parliament, revising the national laws for compliance with international standards, promoting and protecting human rights, enhancing the national electoral system, enhancing border security and facilitating legal trade and transit.   

Improving parliamentary processes in Turkmenistan

Since 2010, UNDP has been supporting strengthening the parliamentary processes and procedures to improve quality of legislation and the capacity of members and professional staff of the Mejlis (Parliament) to effectively perform their law-making and representative functions. This work is carried out jointly with the Parliament of Turkmenistan. UNDP facilitates the exposure of members of Mejlis to the best international practices and provides support for the systematization and enhancement of the existing legislative practices. This work contributed to the revision and adoption by the Mejlis of a number of laws and codes, including the amended Criminal Code with special focus on women in custody; law on the Central Election Commission and Electoral Code; laws on election of President and members of peoples’ councils and local councils, Family Code, Social Protection Code, law on State Pension Insurance, law on Protected Natural Areas, law on Migration and amended Criminal Procedural Code.

Strengthening the national capacity to protect and promote human rights

In partnership with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN OHCHR) and funded by the European Union (EU), UNDP provides support to Turkmenistan's efforts in strengthening the institutional and professional bases to enhance human rights promotion and protection mechanisms, raise awareness of international standards and mechanisms in Turkmenistan and strengthen the national capacity to promote and protect human rights in accordance with these standards.

As part of this partnership, the Government of Turkmenistan further strengthened its dialogue with UN Treaty Bodies resulting in preparation of national reports to CEDAW, CAT, ICESCR, CERD, ICCPR and CRPD. Following the dialogue with CAT, Turkmenistan amended the Criminal Code. At the same time, UNDP was very much helpful in supporting Turkmenistan’s preparations for the Universal Periodic Review process and drafting a National Human Rights Action Plan. These activities contributed to the alignment of national legislation with international human rights standards.

To ensure durability of results, Turkmenistan opened the first-ever Human Rights Resource Centers in four provinces of Turkmenistan and the capital city of Ashgabat, facilitating access to  human rights information for general public, students, teachers and other interested parties outside the capital city.

Enhancing Electoral System and Processes in Turkmenistan

Harmonization of electoral legislation and processes and enhancing the capacity of members of the Central Commission for Elections and Referenda (CEC) and regional election commissions are crucial to strengthening the foundations of democracy in Turkmenistan. Since 2008, UNDP has been supporting Turkmenistan’s efforts to enhance the electoral system and processes in partnership with the National Institute for Democracy and Human Rights and the CEC. With UNDP support national electoral stakeholders, including members of the Mejlis, central and regional election commissions, national electoral observers and mass media deepened their knowledge of international electoral standards and processes. The enhanced capacity of electoral stakeholders contributed to the successful conduct of a number of electoral events organized in line with the national electoral cycle.

In 2013, the Mejlis of Turkmenistan passed the Electoral Code, which was drafted with UNDP support.

Facilitating legal trade and transit   

UNDP works in Turkmenistan to promote peace and security and sustainable cross-border trade. In this area, UNDP is assisting Turkmenistan in ensuring effective and integrated border management by providing support to the national authorities in introducing more efficient procedures to facilitate legitimate cross-border trade. This work is carried out within the framework of the European Union's Border Management Programme in Central Asia (BOMCA) implemented by UNDP since 2004.

UNDP continued dialogue and promotion of Integrated Border Management concept that envisages inter-agency, intra-agency, international cooperation.  This was done through exposing the Turkmen law enforcement officials to this concept through organization of study-visits, regional and local events targeting primarily all national agencies involved in border management.

Highlights of Democratic Governance Programme in Turkmenistan

  • more than 1000 Turkmen officials and other stakeholders (of which women account for 47%) trained on human rights standards and mechanisms
  • Electoral Code, consolidating all electoral laws, was passed in 2013
  • First-ever Human Rights Resource Centers up and running in all provinces of Turkmenistan and the capital city of Ashgabat
  • Turkmenistan has gone through the 2nd Universal Periodic Review process. The country is currently the progress of development of a National Human Right Action Plan