Kazakhstan / Human Rights Conference

Astana/Vienna, 19 June 1998/P/K/16012c-is

In a resolution adopted by consensus, the participants of the conference on "Human Rights and Freedoms in the Reforming Process of Kazakhstan Society" held in Astana, the new capital of Kazakhstan, earlier today called for the accession of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The conference was jointly organized by the Human Rights Commission under the President of Kazakhstan and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The recently appointed Chairman of the Commission, Senator Abdildin Zhabaihan Mubarakovich, stated the readiness of his Commission and the vivid interest of the people of Kazakhstan to participate in the regional human rights structure created under the auspices of the OSCE in Tashkent. In his comprehensive report at the inaugural session of the conference, Mr. E. Idrissov, First Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, explained that Kazakhstan has signed 14 multilateral agreements regulating different aspects of human rights protection, among them the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Geneva Conventions of 1949, and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination in Respect to Women.

In his address to the conference, the President of the International Progress Organization, Prof. Dr. Hans Koechler, emphasized the importance of strengthening the independence of human rights protection in Kazakhstan within the framework of a constitutionally guaranteed division of powers that he considered essential for safeguarding basic rights of citizens in any state. The President of the I.P.O. expressed his support to the creation of a regional human rights structure for the states of Central Asia similar to regional structures in other parts of the world such as Europe. Professor Koechler said that he was fully convinced that the Human Rights Commission under the President of Kazakhstan will serve as the catalyst for the further development of civil society and legal guarantees of citizens’ rights within the framework of internationally recognized standards.

The conference was attended by human rights NGOs and activists from all regions of Kazakhstan, by representatives of governmental offices and law enforcement agencies of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and by representatives of United Nations agencies such as the UNDP and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Several delegates from Kazakhstan emphasized the need to strengthen the native Kazak language and insisted that the Human Rights Commission under the President of Kazakhstan should issue its documents and conduct its proceedings not only in Russian, but also in the national Kazak language.

In a separate statement after the conference, the President of the I.P.O. supported the right of the people of Kazakhstan to use its native Kazak language in all public fora and state institutions. He said that the new law regulating the right to use the native language and making the knowledge of the Kazak language compulsory for civil servants of the Republic of Kazakhstan is in full conformity with international human rights standards. After many decades of oppressive rule, the Kazak people have the full and inalienable right to develop their cultural and national identity of which the use of the native Kazak language is one of the basic elements, Dr. Koechler said. He further expressed the hope that the Turkic nations of Central Asia, after decades of oppression and alienation from their national cultural heritage, will be able to continue and strengthen the close co-operation among themselves and with the Republic of Turkey in the cultural, social and economic fields for the benefit of regional security, stability and prosperity.

END/KAZAKHSTAN/HUMAN RIGHTS/1998-06-19/16012c-is