Participants Assess Effectiveness of Coordination Consultation Conference, Note That Many 2013 Recommendations Were Accepted

MFAASTANA – The Kazakhstan Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted an event on Jan. 14 to summarise the 2013 results of the Coordination Consultation Conference held under its auspices. The conference facilitates dialogue between government bodies and representatives of local and international NGOs and multilateral organizations on issues of Kazakhstan’s democratic development.

The conference was established at the end of 2012 in response to the need to discuss issues related to democratic development, the rule of law and human rights. The conference provides recommendations to state authorities and the Parliament, including recommendations concerning the government programme “National Action Plan on Democratic Issues for the Period to 2020.”

The Jan. 14 meeting assessed the conference’s results from the past year and laid out plans for 2014.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Erlan Idrissov opened the meeting to allow discussion among participants representing civic organizations and state authorities, as well as different regions of the country.  Among the participants were prominent representatives of the Kazakhstan human rights community and international organizations such as Evgeny Zhovtis, Zauresh Batalova and Zhemis Turmagambetova, as well as UN Resident Coordinator in Kazakhstan Stephen Tull and representatives of government ministries and agencies.

Evaluating the 2013 work of the conference, the hosts and guests praised the conference’s efforts. The participants appreciated the efforts of the conference to establish a special culture of dialogue based on principles of openness, effectiveness and ability to both “listen” and “hear.”

Idrissov stressed that the conference is not burdened by trying to solve global issues, but rather seeks to impact urgent and achievable tasks.

“We did not set the task to solve cardinal issues and bring disparate opinions into uniformity. By contrast, our discussions are held for the sake of a rich exchange of different viewpoints and experiences. The main aim of such exchange is to produce results for raising the quality of life of our citizens,” Idrissov said.

During 2013, conference members held six specialized meetings, which resulted in 157 recommendations on issues of democratic development, rule of law, as well as human rights and freedoms.

More than half of those 157 recommendations have been accepted by executive departments and Parliament. The remaining recommendations are to be further developed in 2014.

Participants at the Jan. 14 meeting also accepted the conference’s plans for 2014, including mechanisms to accept and put into practice the recommendations the conference will make over the coming year.

The discussion focused not only on addressing issues, but also on ways make the conference function more effectively.

As to specific issues, a wide range of questions were considered.

Turmagambetova raised the question of the possibility of eliminating capital punishment. She called for the consideration of eliminating the death penalty, referring to the experiences of other countries, including neighbouring Russia and Central Asian states. She also drew the participants’ attention to the need to establish a more accurate definition of terrorism and the repercussions for a person formally accused of terrorism. Among other important issues discussed were facilitating easier movement within the country, specifically the issue of local registration; freedom of religious unions, and the participation in the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

Concerning improving the conference itself, participants discussed how to better promote the conference’s recommendations to the government and what actions could be taken to incorporate the conference’s recommendations into the country’s legal framework.  Participants expressed their desire to hold conference sessions on a more regular basis and with more time devoted for discussions. In that regard, a decision was made to increase the effectiveness of the meetings and to conduct additional working inter-sessions of the conference.

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