Aiming to deepen democratic reforms, develop civil society and ensure that the interests of broad sections of the population are realized, Uzbekistan has increased the role of non-governmental, non-profit organizations and civil society institutions. In this regard, the most important civil society institution in Uzbekistan is makhalla, which is a unique institution that combines the lowest and regional branches of self-government in the country.

Literally translated from Arabic, the word ‘makhalla’ means an adjacent camp or a city camp, and expresses a part of the city exercising local self-government. In Uzbekistan the traditional makhalla has developed into a system of territorial, social, political, and spiritual-educational self-government, which is not found in any other country.

For centuries, the Uzbek makhalla has been considered a center of education, preservation of national customs, traditions and values, a spiritual center for citizens. Makhalla also plays an essential role in formation of human qualities such as mutual respect, kindness and mercy, unity in carrying out khashar (public works) and family rituals among the residents of makhalla.

The significance of makhalla institution is that it has detailed information about all residents and their life conditions: the people who need material and moral support,   unemployment, conflicts in families and concerns of the population. It provides targeted social assistance to vulnerable groups of the population and ensures a stable spiritual and moral atmosphere in families, attracting citizens, especially young people to useful work.

Today in Uzbekistan there are more than nine thousand bodies of self-government of citizens, which make a significant contribution in resolving issues of local importance, ensuring a stable spiritual and moral atmosphere, strengthening friendship and solidarity, educating the younger generation and strengthening inter-ethnic harmony and tolerance.

With the independence of Uzbekistan in 1991, special attention has been paid to the development of makhalla activities, as well as improvement of its institutional and legal framework. The legal status of makhalla was for the first time enshrined in Article 105 of the Constitution, which was adopted on 8 December, 1992, and the activities of the institution were streamlined through a law adopted on 2 September 1993.The concept of self-government of citizens was thus determined as an independent activity guaranteed by the Constitution for solving local issues based on their interests, historical features of development, as well as national and spiritual values, local customs and traditions.

The law sets basic principles of the activities of these self-governing bodies as well as a standard structure of these institutions which consist of a Council (Kengash), and an Audit commission. The Council is formed in order to fulfill the decisions of the assembly of citizens as well as the current activities of the citizens’ self-government bodies. The council is led by a chairperson (aksakal) and assisted by his deputies (consultants on the elderly and veterans and youth issues), advisers, executive secretary and a specialist of the Women’s district (city) Committee for working with and strengthening the spiritual – moral values in families, head of the public formation “Mahalla Posboni”, as well as local preventive inspectors, heads of educational institutions, rural medical units and family polyclinics.

The Audit сommission is established to check the financial and economic activities of the assembly of citizens and operates independently while being accountable only to assembly of citizens. Members of the commission are not entitled to be simultaneously a member of another body of citizens.

Within the framework of deepening and developing democratic reforms in the country, it became necessary to improve the legal framework for the activities of the makhalla institution. By adoption of the decree of the President Sh. Mirziyoyev on 3 February, 2017 the activities of the makhalla institution have reached a new stage. In accordance with this decree, the Republican Council for the coordination of the activities of self-government bodies of citizens was given the status of a legal entity with its formation in the form of an Association of assembly of citizens.

The main purpose of the Republican Council, which is a non-governmental non-profit organization, is to increase the efficiency of the bodies of assembly of citizens and turn the makhalla institution closer to the population structure and further develop the institutions interaction with state bodies and institutions of civil society.

Over the past two years, 24 legal documents aimed at improving the activities of the makhalla, have been adopted and are being implemented. A newly established badge ‘Makhalla Iftikhori’(Pride of Makhalla) was also established to acknowledge worthy contributions made to the implementaiton of the tasks of self-government of citizens..

Strengthening healthy atmosphere in families, makhallas and society, education of the youth, preservation of peaceful and quiet life has been emphasized by our President as of great importance. There have been identified priorities in this direction.

At present, along with the education of a harmoniously developed younger generation and obtaining modern education for young people, new mechanisms of cooperation, such as ‘Family-makhalla-educational institution’ has been established in order to educate the youth in the spirit of universal and national values, high human qualities and reliably protect their minds from various ideological and spiritual threats.

Parents, representatives of the older generation and the atmosphere in families play an important role in the education of the younger generation. In order to improve spiritual outlook of parents in the education of children ‘Parent universities’ have also been established under the self-government of citizens.

In order to prevent family divorces, troubles and other unpleasant cases, the Republican Council together with partner organizations, held a month aiming at strengthening families under the motto ‘We are against family divorces’. Within the framework of the project various events were held to explain the value of the family and the responsibility of parents and representatives of the older generation of makhallas in family education and preparation of young people for family life, as well as to promote healthy lifestyles in families and popularize positive experience of exemplary families.

Uzbekistan has also developed a separate program to ensure employment and create new jobs and is still implementing the measures outlined in it. In this regard, assemblies of citizens have become close assistants to the population in employment and development of family and private entrepreneurship. In order to create conditions for each family to engage in entrepreneurship and turn it into a source of income, program named ‘Every family entrepreneur’ is being implemented, thereby the number of families engaged in business in makhallas is being increased.

In conclusion, it should be underlined that further enhancement of the role of the makhalla institution in solving social and economic problems is a requirement of time. After all, the successful implementation of these tasks is important in providing targeted social support to the population, providing employment, developing private entrepreneurship and family business, protecting the environment, increasing the civic activism of compatriots and their legal culture and strengthening the family institution, which as a result will serve to build a strong civil society.

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