Secretary-General's Remarks to Civil Society and Local Authorities

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11 Jun 2015

Secretary-General's Remarks to Civil Society and Local Authorities

OSH, Kyrgyzstan
Distinguished participants,

I am pleased to address the representatives of Kyrgyzstan’s vibrant civil society.

I am told the number of registered civil society organizations in this country runs into the thousands.

This is a healthy sign, setting Kyrgyzstan apart, and speaking to the openness and democratic space of your country.

I want to thank you for your leadership and strong commitment -- in particular -- for your contributions in the wake of the tragic events of 2010.

You worked closely and broadly for conflict-prevention and early recovery.

You have acted as a bridge between the people and the authorities.

The United Nations recognizes civil society organizations as crucial partners. Our relationship is based on mutual respect and trust.

The work of civil society organizations ranges from speaking out against human rights violations to promoting innovation; from offering alternative models of service delivery to advocating for an inclusive society; from facilitating the work of the Government to sometimes challenging it.

I particularly value your work to spearhead change – to combat social exclusion and inequality of marginalized groups, such as ethnic and sexual minorities, poor women, young people, people with disabilities, refugees and displaced people.

Your work is critical for a post-crisis country to transition from fragility to stability and to ensure durable solutions.

I also want to thank you for serving as a vital voice for shaping a future development agenda that reflects the concerns and aspirations of people.

The United Nations welcomes the scrutiny it faces by global civil society. We recognize your independence and impartiality.

I am aware of certain proposed legislation that would shrink the democratic space in the country and threaten your independence. I am also aware of worrying steps taken against some civil society organizations and human rights defenders in recent months.

I can assure you that I have raised my concerns with your authorities and have urged them to reconsider any steps that are inconsistent with your Constitution and international standards.
Kyrgyzstan’s Constitution is one of the few in the world that explicitly highlights the importance of Government “interaction with civil society”.

This is an excellent basis to build a relationship of trust and respect.

Once again, thank you for your excellent work here in Kyrgyzstan. I wish you success in your endeavors to strengthen democracy and development in the country. You have my full support.

Chong Rakhmat. Thank you.