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Democracy, Human Rights and Governance

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Journalist Ainur Qoskina in the lobby of the Parliament of Kazakhstan in Nur-Sultan in July 2019.
Journalist Ainur Qoskina in the lobby of the Parliament of Kazakhstan in Nur-Sultan in July 2019.
Rustam Smailov

While Kazakhstan has comparatively strong state institutions, the country’s efforts to advance good governance have been hindered by a lack of transparency and accountability. A robust civil society and independent media landscape can help mitigate this weakness. However, civil society organizations (CSOs) and independent media outlets face an increasingly difficult operating environment and often struggle with financial sustainability. Another key constraint to effective governance is the lack of perceived independence of the judiciary, which hinders the country’s ability to attract foreign investment and uphold the rule of law.

USAID’s programs in Kazakhstan help build a democratic culture by supporting civil society, increasing access to information, strengthening citizen initiative groups, and encouraging the protection of human rights. USAID also brings civil society organizations together with the Government of Kazakhstan to form partnerships that are working to implement reforms that will bring about real change in a variety of areas—including rule of law and civic engagement. In addition, USAID supports Kazakhstan's efforts to combat trafficking-in-persons and prevent violent extremism. Finally, USAID works in partnership with the Supreme Court of Kazakhstan to enhance the professionalism and independence of the court system.

Results:

  • USAID has strengthened state-civil society dialogue at the national level, assisting the Ministry of Information and Social Development in developing transparent and fair procedures for awarding and monitoring grants to local non-governmental organizations.
  • USAID supported the development of the CSO Law Academy, which trained thirteen CSOs in advocating for improvements to the enabling environment (such as revisions to the tax code).
  • In partnership with the Supreme Court of Kazakhstan, USAID has provided training for over 300 judges and members of the judiciary based on best practices in U.S. and international law. These efforts helped build public trust in the judiciary and assisted the Government of Kazakhstan in implementing judicial reforms.
  • USAID provides technical support to local non-state media outlets, facilitates high-quality content production, and advocates for changes to the enabling environment for independent media. These efforts expand Kazakhstani citizens’ access to a wide range of media sources, including independent and local perspectives, which helps encourage productive civic discourse.
  • In partnership with the International Organization for Migration, USAID worked to facilitate the adoption of a 2020 agreement between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan on protecting the rights of migrant workers.

Last updated: July 23, 2020

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