Respect for human rights is key to ensuring a modern and prosperous Uzbekistan, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, urging the Government to fully implement the numerous global agreements it has committed itself to.
The Central Asian nation is a signatory to more than 60 international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention against Torture.
It is time to deliver. To put them fully into practice, Mr. Ban said in his lecture at the University for World Economy and Diplomacy in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent.
As a signatory to so many international conventions on human rights, you recognize the fundamental importance of these universal values. They are the key to social and political modernization, to a prosperous future where all people can live in dignity and equality.
They are the door to full standing in the broader international community, he stated.
The need for the full promotion and protection of human rights is a message the Secretary-General has also stressed to leaders in Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan, both of which he visited prior to arriving in Uzbekistan as part of his five-nation Central Asia tour.
Mr. Ban commended Uzbekistan for signing the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and encouraged it to ratify it as soon as possible.
He also commended the country for abolishing the death penalty, stating that its action will help reinforce the global commitment to ending impunity for genocide and other crimes against humanity.
The UN chief also cited the need for Uzbekistan to act as soon as possible on the recommendations of the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review - a process which involves a review of the records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years - so that civil society may flourish, so that your people can enjoy the benefits in their daily lives.
In addition, he urged Uzbekistan to welcome independent UN human rights experts, known as Special Rapporteurs, who could help the country along this path.
The Secretary-General discussed these and other issues with President Islam Karimov today, prior to leaving for Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Speaking to reporters before departing, Mr. Ban said he expected that the Uzbek Government will lead by example when it comes to promoting and enhancing human rights, and said he stressed to the President the importance of turning its commitments into deeds.
Mr. Ban's lecture also touched on issues of security, development, climate and the environment. Yesterday he witnessed one of the world's worst environmental disasters as he flew over the shrinking Aral Sea - which he said was a stark reminder of the importance of properly managing the environment and the Earth's natural resources.
He emphasized the importance of resolving problems of cooperation and competition over natural resources in ways that benefit the entire region and respect the interests of all nations.