Nations in Transit 2005

by Nathan Hamm on 6/16/2005 · 3 comments

Freedom House has released its Nations in Transit 2005 report and it’s well worth checking out for anyone interested in post-communist transitions. I also particularly like Freedom House because unlike organizations like Human Rights Watch, they mention slight improvements in the situation while not overplaying them. (Well, I don’t think they overplay them anyway. I know some disagree.)

Looking at the Uzbekistan chapter though, it’s pretty obvious their outlook for this year was written before Andijon and its aftermath.

Uzbekistan is likely to make small steps toward democratization in 2005, but the president’s approach to building a “regulated democracy” and “regulated market economy” will not produce significant results that impact public life. Poverty and corruption will remain top problems for the vast majority of the Uzbek population. Authorities have started making progress in the area of human rights, which is likely to be enhanced and expanded in 2005.

They go on to mention the importance of allowing political parties to operate fully and openly, real political decentralization, free media, and a reduced role for the president.

Kyrgyzstan’s is dated too (because there was that whole revolution thing that happened…) and Turkmenistan’s outlook probably could have just been “Abandon all hope.” However, the reports definitely are worth checking out.

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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david l June 16, 2005 at 3:41 pm

The bit you quote tends to support my view that they tend to get things just a little bit wrong. Even before Andijan I don’t think there were many people in Tashkent who believed that there would be some improvement in human rights in 2005. Except perhaps the FH director in Tashkent, but I think their well-meaning programs of dialogue between law enforcement and HR activists in Tashkent actually had a very negative impact. Now they have changed directors, and got rid of that program. Just in time, but I suspect they won’t be in Tashkent much longer anyway.

Nathan June 16, 2005 at 3:47 pm

I definitely see where you’re coming from. I don’t think they sufficiently make the case for their optimism despite the very minor (and meaningless for most Uzbeks) successes they mention during 2004. Andijon or no, there certainly has been a drift towards rolling things back.

david l June 16, 2005 at 5:47 pm

Yes, and now of course even those formalistic nods towards HR by the Uzbeks seem unlikely – the regime has clearly pulled up the drawbridge. Some pretty dreadful stuff in the Uzbek press and reports that the base is facing problems suggest that the GoU is ready for a total breakdown in relations with US. A najor rift seems inevitable, the question is how to manage it…

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