Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

11 June 2015

Secretary-General's remarks to International Conference on Development of Parliamentarianism

Good Morning, salamatsyzdarby and dobry den.

It is a great honour to address this International Conference on Parliamentarianism.  As I do so, I recall my last visit to your magnificent country in April 2010.

That was only five years ago, but in many ways I feel as though I am coming to a new country today.

Kyrgyzstan’s Parliament, the Jogorku Kenesh, has been critical to that renewal.

Despite the enormous challenge of creating a sustainable parliamentary system in a country recovering from conflict, you have achieved much progress.

Kyrgyzstan adopted a progressive constitution with clear separation of powers, guarantees of fundamental human rights and respect for the rule of law.

The country underscored that commitment by ratifying a number of international human rights treaties.

The Parliament has begun ongoing work to fight corruption.

You are acting to formulate a national agenda – and promoting the implementation of the National Sustainable Development strategy initiated by President [Almazbek] Atambaev.  

You have enhanced government transparency and improved the quality of parliamentary oversight and accountability.

Of course, the transition to a parliamentary democracy is a work in progress. 

It takes time. 

I know there may be lingering mistrust between people and the state.  I know many may feel frustrated that change is not moving fast enough.

But every day, you are bringing democracy closer to the people and building greater trust.

I highly respect the essential role of Members of Parliament. 

You ratify treaties, execute international commitments, fund these commitments through the national budget and remind the Government of its international obligations.  You are the bridge between the local, national and global. 

You are listening to the voices of the people.  You are the first to talk and listen to the people, what their aspirations and challenges are. That is why I always respect members of Parliament. The role of Parliament is always crucially important in any democratic society.
You have a big agenda before you -- addressing people’s needs for decent work, effective democratic governance, reconciliation and peace-building, and quality health and education.

I encourage you to work closely with the civil society of Kyrgyzstan which is instrumental to these efforts, and create conditions to ensure that their dedicated work can continue without restrictions.

This is also a big year for global action.

In the coming months, the international community will meet in three places to secure a better world for all.

First, in July, in Addis Ababa, leaders will gather to agree on a new financing framework for sustainable development.

In September, in New York, there will be a special summit session for three days where we expect all the leaders of the world, including President Atambaev, to come to New York and adopt the sustainable development agenda with a set of sustainable development goals.

In December, in Paris, this year, the leaders should adopt a universal and meaningful climate change agreement.

Taken together, this is truly a once-in-a-generation opportunity to end global poverty, and begin a new era of sustainable development.

No country, no organization, including the United Nations, can do it alone.  The world needs your support to realize this inter-connected agenda for humanity.

There can be no peace without development.  Likewise, there can be no development without peace and security.  And neither is possible without respect for human rights. So all these are interconnected. They should be together: peace and security; development; and human rights.  All these things are pillars of the United Nations Charter and they work together.

In that spirit, I urge you to complete the unfinished agenda of judicial and law enforcement reforms, and reinforce Parliament’s essential role in advancing human rights.

Indeed, the Parliament must serve as the national guardian of human rights for all persons in Kyrgyzstan regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity, religion or any other status.

You can help guarantee that the independent National Human Rights Institutions --  namely the Ombudsman and the National Preventive Mechanism -- maintain their independence through strong laws and receive sufficient resources to execute their important mandate.  I urge you to do so. 

This year Kyrgyzstan will develop a National Human Rights Action Plan based on the recommendations from United Nations Human Rights Mechanisms.  I encourage the Parliament to actively engage in the development of this comprehensive effort.

Women's rights are human rights – and Parliament must play key role in systematically addressing persistent gender inequality and ending violence against women.

Here, I am going to meet with women members of Parliament today, and I am going to encourage the increase of the number of women parliamentarians. That is a very important pillar of the United Nations.
To truly represent and serve the people, a parliament needs a vibrant opposition -- questioning the government but also working with a sense of responsibility. 

As you work to deepen democracy, I urge you to remember that the separation of powers rests on a fine balance and respect for institutions and for their mandates.

If the judiciary becomes subservient to the executive, the system will not be effective. 

If the parliament begins to exercise executive functions, government will break down.

Your achievements can be further reinforced when the country will hold elections later this year.

The goals are clear:  a free and fair process; equal opportunity; and ensuring the right of all Kyrgyz citizens to exercise their voting rights without hindrance.

Later today, I will travel to Osh to mark the fifth anniversary of the tragic inter-ethnic strife and to support the ongoing peacebuilding process.

Kyrgyzstan has ambitious plans to promote inter-ethnic harmony and protect the rights of all, including minorities.  It is important for those policies to be put into practice.  Root causes must be addressed.

Fully and impartially investigating and prosecuting past human rights violations is also essential to a meaningful reconciliation process.

In the aftermath of the tragic conflict, the United Nations launched short-term humanitarian assistance – and longer-term stabilization support through our Peacebuilding Fund. 

Today, I am pleased to announce the launch of a new United Nations Peacebuilding Fund  initiative to promote cooperation between communities across borders in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and to involve more women and youth.   This will help further enhance regional cooperation in Central Asia – a fundamental goal of my visit. 

You have my full support as you continue your vital work for peace, development and human rights.

Keep up your effort.  Fight corruption.  Deepen inter-ethnic harmony.  Strengthen democracy and human rights.  Ensure justice.  Be a voice for the voiceless people. I often call myself a voice of the voiceless people, defender of defenseless people.

With your strong leadership and engagement, the future will be much brighter and harmonious for everyone living in Kyrgyzstan. And let us work together to help the people of Kyrgyzstan live in peace and harmony, reconciliation, so that all the people living in Central Asia and, in a broader sense, the whole world can live with human dignity.

Thank you very much. Chong Rakhmat.