2019 Int’l Alumni Essay Contest Excellent Writers
Supporting the Right to Peaceful Religious Practice in Kyrgyzstan by Strengthening the Legal Framework
Gulkaiyr Emir-Raadik kyzy(2016 MPM, Kyrgyzstan)
We all have our turning points in our lives, and studying at KDI School was one of those periods for me that entirely changed my life in a positive manner. It has been two years since I have graduated, yet I may say with full confidence that it has been the most incredible year with full of blessings. Studying at KDI had a great impact on my social and working life and were able to contribute to my society.
I was able to develop new skills and apply that knowledge in my day to day working life. My invaluable experience during my studies there gave me a chance to take valuable courses that enabled me to enhance my leadership and decision-making skills on the one hand, as well as boost my creative thinking and strategic planning qualities on the other. Moreover, playing as a mediator during the courses of dispute resolution and negotiation developed my advisory skills, where we were asked to propose a creative solution to different conflict situations. Which eventually had a huge impact on my career path. I had recently worked for the American peacebuilding organization “Search for Common Ground” in Kyrgyzstan in the past year. It has been an incredible year full of new challenges and experiences that helped me to grow into a better me. Indeed, the valuable lessons and skills gained throughout my studies in KDI have prepared me as a young professional to address political and social problems of my country.
We worked under the project named “Promoting Freedom of Religion or Beliefs in Kyrgyzstan”, and one of our main objectives was to strengthen the legal framework in support of the right to peaceful religious practice in Kyrgyzstan; We as a team try to approach the issue from a new perspective: to build a collaborative problem-solving process around questions related to the legal framework, and working with the Multi-Stakeholder Working group. As a part of SFCG team and in partnership with the State Commission on Religious Affairs (SCRA) we had worked specifically on amending the draft law of the Kyrgyz Republic on “Freedom of religion and religious organizations in Kyrgyzstan” with the participation of key stakeholders such as government officials and large representatives of civil society.
The amendments to the draft law were aimed at eliminating factors that carry the potential risks of destabilizing public-confessional relations and disorganization of state powers on the regulation of the religious sphere. It also seeks to eliminate contradictions and collisions within the current law, to bring the norms of this law into line with constitutional principles, to give a clearer definition of rights, duties and the responsibility of religious organizations and state bodies, to address gaps and weaknesses in the regulation of religious matters, and to ensure the effective functioning of this law.
As a first step, we convened a smaller technical working group, contracted a legal expert to facilitate the group, in order to develop more detailed recommendations for draft laws, regulations, and policies. Once the draft law was developed by the technical working group, we organized MSWGM (Multi-Stakeholder Working Group Meeting). The meeting gathered different type of government officials and civil society organizations, including representatives of SCRA (State Committee Religious Affairs), General Prosecutors Office, Security Council Secretariat of Kyrgyz Republic, Department of Ethnic Religious Policy and Interaction with Civil Society of the Kyrgyz Republic, Ministry of Internal Affairs, High School of Justice under the Supreme Court of the Kyrgyz Republic, Expert on Human Rights etc.
After the recommendations to the drafted laws and regulations were reviewed by MSWG (Multi-Stakeholder Working Group), they were taken to four regions of the country for public sessions aimed at fostering grassroots support and buy-in. Thus, launched public sessions provided the ability for other main stakeholders affected by the law, such as various religious organizations, representatives of state agencies, law enforcement, experts of that specific local regions, to take part in the discussion and collect their recommendations. These sessions were followed in a town-hall style discussion to allow for citizens to raise questions, make points, and have their feedback incorporated into the draft.
As a result, it allowed taking their interests into account, which eventually led to attaining win-win situation by a comprehensive approach. A total of 7 public sessions were held over the life of the project. As an organization, we made sure at least 10% of the participants were from minority religious groups at these public sessions. Currently, the draft law was submitted to the appropriate government entity and it is under reviewal. The amendments to the law expected to be launched before 2020.
To sum up, the innovative strategies and negotiation techniques taught in KDI became my anchor in my daily working life as I tend to face conflicting situations each time we had a meeting between various stakeholders. By using negotiation skills and techniques taught by professor Kim Dong Young, our team was able to achieve great results during the public sessions and MSWG meetings. I believe that teaching methods in KDI really helped me to open up and unleash my potential to the fullest! By implementing this project, we made crucial steps towards changing the policy and regulations, which will be a new change towards a more peaceful and understanding society.