International Significance of the UN Resolution on Strengthening Cooperation in Central Asia

AUTHOR’S BIO: Dr. Batir Tursunov is Deputy Director of Strategic and Regional Studies under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

At the plenary session on June 22, 2018, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on «Strengthening regional and international cooperation to ensure peace, stability and sustainable development in the Central Asian Region». According to the Uzbek Foreign Ministry, who made statement on this event the next day, the draft of the document, developed by Uzbekistan along with other Central Asian states, was unanimously supported by all UN members.

BACKGROUND: Certainly, this event can be described as historical one not just for the Central Asian countries. If we give insight into the nature of the resolution, it is difficult to overestimate its significance in a broader, international context.

From the conceptual point of view, the adoption of the resolution marked a new stage in the history of the Central Asian countries as the region has been consolidating. Moreover, for the first time the Central Asian states have confirmed their ability not only to make joint actions to solve all common regional problems, but also to ensure the wellbeing and prosperity of the Central Asian’s nations since they got independence in 1991.

IMPLICATIONS: Importance of the Resolution for Uzbekistan

Initially, the adoption of such kind of the document was initiated by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev at the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly in September 2017. In his speech in New York concerning the organization of the International Conference on Central Asia in Samarkand in November 2017, the Head of the Republic of Uzbekistan proposed to develop a UN resolution after the conference in order to support the Central Asian countries’ efforts to ensure security and strengthen cooperation in the region.

The adoption of the resolution was not only evidence of the implementation of the Uzbekistan’s initiative, but also confirmation of international recognition and support of Tashkent’s new regional policy.

The reason of this is simple: «Our main goal», – noted President Shavkat Mirziyoyev at the Samarkand Conference, «is to turn Central Asia into a stable, economically developed and prosperous region through joint efforts».

All partners of Uzbekistan from near and far abroad countries as well as highly influential international organizations totally understand and support our country. The world community clearly understands that Uzbekistan’s modern policy is aimed at full disclosure of our nation’s potential in the region without contradicting the other country’s interests. Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s foreign policy course opens the way for the development of the entire region.
Importance of the Resolution for Central Asia

The Central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan – not only actively supported the Uzbekistan’s initiative, but also co¬sponsored the UN General Assembly resolution on Central Asia. The document reflects mutual support of the Central Asian states’ initiatives, which have made a significant practical contribution to strengthening regional security and ensuring sustainable development.

Particularly, the outcomes of the debate in the Security Council on Afghanistan in January 2018 when Kazakhstan chaired the UN Security Council as well as the regular holding of the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan were reflected in the resolution. Moreover, the resolution included the results of the international conference dedicated to the problems of combating terrorism and extremism which was held in Tajikistan in May 2018. Central Asian countries welcomed an upcoming Summit of the Heads of States of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea in Turkmenistan. They have also supported Uzbekistan’s initiative on the annual convening of the Central Asian countries leaders’ consultative meetings.

In fact, the resolution has become Central Asian states’ consolidated response both to regional problems, challenges and threats of globalization. Furthermore, the Central Asia countries have significantly strengthened their role as independent actors of the international relations system as well as their capacity of being responsible for our region’s present and future.

During the period of independent development of Central Asian countries such positive dynamics in region is unprecedented. Nowadays they have reached a qualitatively new level of regional cooperation. And what are the reasons of this success?

Firstly, objective historical conditions that emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Central Asian states gained their independence during the bipolar world order disintegration, associated with the emergence of new challenges and threats to stability, increased geopolitical rivalry, escalation of armed confrontation in neighboring regions. In addition, the security situation in the region was compl icated by the heavy burden of internal political, socio-economic, ideological and other problems that the Central Asian countries faced in the 1990s and subsequent period.

At that time, newly independent Central Asian states were occupied with vital issues of state building, the search for self-identity in the global world. Essentially all states of the region were lack of experience both in domestic and foreign affairs and had to concentrate, especially on their own problems, as well as on the most acute threats to regional security.

In particular, as American expert S.Comell notes, Uzbekistan played a very important role in Central Asia for 25 years. Since the early days of its independence, the country has taken a firm stand against radicalism and extremist ideologies, and has pursued a strong policy aimed at preventing the spread of extremist ideology in the region.

Deeply aware of the Central Asian nations’ interests and destinies as well as the indivisibility of security, Uzbekistan has always committed to the priority of ensuring regional security as an important factor for development. In this context, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s words are not casual: «During the most difficult periods of region’s modem history, unlike many others, Uzbekistan managed to maintain peace and stability, to avoid escalating local conflicts into a major interstate confrontation as well».

Consequently, Central Asian countries5 political systems and administrative institutions were formed and strengthened. Their own models and concepts of national development were elaborated and implemented. With the integration into the international relations system the Central Asian countries have gotten a great experience in building foreign policy, that requires a fresh look at the strategic prospects and advantages of regional cooperation in a globalized world.

Secondly, Uzbekistan’s new regional policy of in Central Asia. As the director of the Center for Central Asia and Afghanistan Studies of Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) A.Kazantsev mentions, Uzbekistan has demonstrated quite a serious potential in resolving regional conflicts. Over the past two years, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev from scratch has managed to solve all the problems that existed in Central Asia, thereby laying the foundations for solving regional problems.

Currently, the Central Asian countries express a firm readiness for constructive changes in bilateral and multilateral relations. The states of the region are more than ever concentrated on consolidating their efforts to increase their competitiveness in the world and to strengthen the international political entity of the entire region.

Importance of the Resolution for the international community

The adoption of the UN resolution on Central Asia is an unprecedented event in the newest history of the states of the region, as it was unanimously supported by other countries from almost all continents of the world – Australia, the North and South America, Asia, Africa and Europe. According to the Uzbek Foreign Ministry, all the leading partners of Central Asian countries, including Russia, China, the United States and the EU, took active participation in the consultations on the document drafting.

In fact, the world community expressed its firm and unconditional support for Central Asian countries’ efforts to deepen regional cooperation, which is one of the most important factors of stability and development of the region.

At present, it is acknowledged that the Central Asia’s security is an integral part of global security. In the current period when some regions of the world have been witnessing political tensions and conflicts, the strategic prospects for regional cooperation in Central Asia are of particular importance for international security. Growing uncertainty, turbulence and imbalances in the global economy require from Central Asian state a closer, coordinated interaction to find ways and implement common regional development projects.

Admittedly, international community, including states of the region, recognizes that only stable, dynamically developing and prosperous Central Asia can become attractive, constructive and long-term partner. If the countries of the region are successful in this direction, then Central Asia can «become a new geopolitical laboratory of stability and peace in Eurasia».

CONCLUSIONS: The UN resolution on Central Asia, without any exaggeration, marked the entry of Central Asian countries into a new era of interstate relations. The Central Asian states uniquely placed their stake on regional cooperation and received the entire world community’s support.

Today, there is solid reason to say that such changes have encouraged international partners to fundamentally reconsider their approaches to Central Asia. This gives them hope and confidence in maintaining security, development and prosperity of a strategically important region, located in the heart of Eurasia.