Upon Shavkat Mirziyoyev's election as President of Uzbekistan in 2016, the role of a robust civil society became the cornerstone of development for a new period in the country's history. Radical reforms have embraced all aspects of our society's political and social life—with NGOs and civil society institutions the locus for reimagining the state's role in our lives.

With this purpose in mind, President Mirziyoyev presented a flagship program known as the Strategy of Actions where he outlines the five priority areas for the country's midterm development: enhancing the role played by civil society institutions in public life, mainly through the media, improving the activities and capacity of non-governmental organizations, developing and introducing effective mechanisms for public engagement in all levels of governance, strengthening the institutional framework, primarily through legal structures, to ensure the effective operation of civil society institutions, support of those institutions, and foster their initiative in exercising public engagement over the activities of state bodies.

Public engagement in the context of the changes underway in Uzbekistan means a constant discourse between state institutions and the people they are obligated to serve. Only then do we make decisions on critical socio-political issues. We provide ample opportunities for the active participation of non-governmental, non-profit organizations in the social protection of the population. Through these means, we will strengthen public health, ameliorate environmental concerns, provide a balanced education for our youth, increase citizens' medical and legal knowledge, among many other reforms. As a result of we have seen a considerable increase in non-governmental, non-profit organizations, and other civil society institutions' activities following in the words of the President, "…it is not the people should serve the state, but the state must serve the people." [2] and People's Receptions[4]

Today, People's receptions in all regions, cities, and districts have switched to an active system of identifying and solving problems through door-to-door visits to families.[6] Recently, we observe a trend where all ministries have adopted virtual portals on their websites to receive applications and complaints from citizens. The expansion of this system has meant timely resolution of emerging issues.

Furthermore, responsible officials at all levels, working on the ground in the mahallas, identify gaps in improving the population's living standards, gather the general opinion of their citizens regarding reforms, and organize their efforts on this basis.[8]

When drafting annual state programs within the framework of the tasks defined by the Strategy of Actions, officials closely study and consider topical issues raised by the population. We prioritize longstanding problems, proposals submitted by civil society institutions and non-governmental organizations, and critical analysis brought forth by the media and social media networks. After completing a vetting process, we present a draft program for public discussion. It is adopted and sent for implementation only after considering the opinions, proposals, and recommendations of ordinary people, experts, and representatives of international organizations.[10] In particular, under the President's insistence, state bodies opened their "closed doors" and ensured transparency in their activities. The President regularly follows social networks, national and foreign media, and other sources about the societal problems that concern the public. In due course, he sometimes reprimands responsible leaders who are indifferent to resolving these issues. He sometimes applies disciplinary sanctions, even releases them from office, and calls on civil society institutions to be uncompromising in these processes.[12] This law regulates Government and Governmental organizations' relations with citizens, citizens' self-government bodies, non-governmental, non-profit organizations, and the media in organizing and furthering a public discourse over the implementation of legislative acts. Also, by the Decree of the President, Public Councils were created as branches of state bodies. These councils are called upon to exercise a mechanism of accountability over a state body and its officials on implementing adopted regulations, programs, agreements, contracts, projects, and programs implemented within the social partnership framework. Besides, these councils take an active part in systematic monitoring and comprehensive analysis of public opinion on the activities of a state body on the most critical issues affecting the rights, freedoms, and legitimate interests of citizens, the development and implementation of state programs, and other programs in the field of combating corruption. Thus, accountability to the public is essential for building a stable and free civil society in the new Uzbekistan. Accordingly, organizing fruitful cooperation between state and public organizations and ensuring the effectiveness of reforms - is the core of the updated policy.

One must openly admit that although there are about 9,200 non-governmental, non-profit organizations in Uzbekistan[14]

Nevertheless, due to concrete support by the Government, activities among institutions engaged in the civil sphere have increased. In particular, one should note that last year, in the context of a pandemic, under the initiative of NGOs, NGOs carried out a tremendous amount of work in the fight against coronavirus. Charity events and all efforts to protect the health of citizens were highly effective.[16] and a decree

[2] Information and legal portalhttps://www.norma.uz/uz/bizning_sharhlar/prezident_virtual_qabulhonasining_yangi_talqini_ishga_tushirildi

[4]National legislation database. https://lex.uz/docs/3336171

[6]Site of the newspaper "Yangi Ozbekiston".https://yuz.uz/news/2020-yilda-prezident-xalq-qabulxonalariga-1-milliondan-ortiq-murojaat-kelib-tushgan

[8] Applications and suggestions received by the People's Receptions serve as the basis for large projects and programs. “Yangi Uzbekiston” newspaper, 2021 January 5, No. 2.http://online.anyflip.com/brpug/atkd/mobile/index.html

[10] Website of the newspaper "Yangi Uzbekistan" https://yuz.uz/news/soz-erkinligi-barqaror-taraqqiyot-masalalariga-hamnafas

[12]National legislation database. https://lex.uz/docs/3679092

[14]Sattarova G., “On the support of NGOs within State programhttps://uza.uz/uz/posts/davlat-dasturida-nntlarni-qollab-quvvatlash-xususida_240877

[16]Website of the National Information Agency of Uzbekistan. https://uza.uz/uz/posts/nodavlat-notizhorat-tashkilotlarini-davlat-tomonidan-qollab-quvvatlash-ularning-faoliyati-erkinligi-huquqlari-va-qonuniy-manfaatlari-himoya-qilinishini-taminlashga-oid-qoshimcha-chora-tadbirlar-togrisida_245986

[17]Website of the National Information Agency of Uzbekistan. https://uza.uz/uz/posts/2021-2025-yillarda-fuqarolik-zhamiyatini-rivozhlantirish-koncepciyasini-tasdiqlash-togrisida_246489