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Incorporating modernization and digitalization in new civil code of Uzbekistan

According to the Decree of the President of Uzbekistan “On measures to improve the civil legislation of the Republic of Uzbekistan” which was adopted on April 5, Uzbekistan has begun the preparation of a new version of the Civil Code. The new edition of the Civil Code is expected to be developed before April 1, 2020. The Research Institute of Legal Policy under the Ministry of Justice Uzbekistan is responsible for the drafting the New Civil Code.

The task is to optimize the organizational and legal forms of legal entities, to increase the efficiency of corporate governance and supplement the Code with new types of contracts, etc. The Civil Code is a key regulatory act for economic relations. The current edition was adopted in 1995-1996. The main directions of the upcoming changes are indicated in the “Concept of Improving Civil Legislation”. This document says, “The analysis of economic reforms implementation revealed significant shortcomings and gaps that negatively affect further market reforms, harm favorable investment climate and business environment, hinder improvement the country’s position in international ratings,”

These are improvement of existing and introduction of new principles of civil legal relations, revision of the old and introduction of new concepts (terms), improvement of measures and means aimed at ensuring fair and proper implementation of civil rights and discharge of duties, optimization of organizational and legal forms and much more.

Research Institute of Legal Policy is conducting thematic seminars, conferences, meetings with experts and organizing visits for its specialists to different countries to learn from their experiences. There are working groups, which are working on the drafting process of the different portion of the New Civil Code.

Uzbekistan is one the first countries in Central Asia which is enthusiastically moving towards digitalization. The Ministry for Development of Information Technologies and Communications of the Republic of Uzbekistan is promoting digitalization in the areas of telecommunication, information technology, government and foreign investments. The government has approved “Smart city” concept: implementation of technology solutions in education, medicine, housing and communal services and territorial management.

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The Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan has approved the concept of implementation of “Smart city” technologies with the decree. The goal of the document is “creation of favorable conditions for improving the standard of living, solutions of citizens’ issues, improving of social infrastructure and regional development”. Ministry of innovative development is responsible for delivering results. The decree mentions that the country is currently at initial stages of implementation of “Smart city” technologies – pilot projects regarding the systems “Safe city”, “Smart enumerators”, “Smart transportation” and “Smart medicine” are realized in Tashkent.

The main issue preventing implementation of such technologies – poor infrastructure of ICT and obsolescence of city infrastructure, requiring modernization of telecommunication networks and capital investment in reconstruction. The method for resolving such issues, in accordance with world practice is attraction of private sector in resolving socially significant challenges and establishment of PPP.

However, there is a challenge for the Ministry of Justice to correlate with the digitalization projects of the government. New Civil Code should spread its tentacles on the all the core areas of private and public laws. In Uzbekistan, the New Civil Code requires market lead reforms to meet the demands of 21st century model government as well as to make it relevant with the upcoming wave of digitalization in the country.

I personally consider that the New Civil Code should contain new legal personalities such as non-human legal personalities or at least digital personhood as of EU to accommodate the demands of 5G Technology and the “Internet of Things”. The Research Institute of Legal Policy is consulting with leading legal experts to incorporate digitalization in the New Civil Code. The issue is not related to the “Internet of Things” only, but it is related to the whole subject matter concerning the technology in general. Thus, it is a challenge for Uzbek legal scientists that how to incorporate digitalization in the New Civil Code to make it more relevant to the 21st century. Whereas, world in looking towards the upcoming changes in Uzbekistan and question remains open, “Is Uzbekistan ready to take lead in the Central Asian region to introduce a technology oriented and digital blended Civil Code or not?”

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Ammar Younas

Ammar Younas is currently employed with Westminster International University in Tashkent, Uzbekistan as a Senior Lecturer in Commercial Law. He studied Chinese Law as Chinese Government Scholar at Tsinghua University School of Law in Beijing, China. He also holds degrees in Medicine, Jurisprudence, Finance, Political Marketing, International and Comparative Politics and Human Rights from Kyrgyzstan, Italy, and Lebanon. Ammar is interested in Legal Philosophy, Constitutional Law, Human Rights, Tech Law, and Artificial Intelligence.

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