of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Human Rights
Promotion, protection and observance of human rights is one of the priorities of State policy of Uzbekistan. Targeted measures are being implemented to ensure personal, political, economic, social and cultural rights in the framework of the Actions Strategy on the five priority areas of development of the Republic of Uzbekistan for 2017–2021.
The matter of ensuring human rights and freedoms in Uzbekistan is becoming the main criterion for democratic reforms aimed at creating a prosperous and decent life for the people of Uzbekistan.
International human rights standards are systematically and progressively implemented into national legislation and law enforcement. The norms of more than 80 international instruments on human rights and freedoms ratified by Uzbekistan are now reflected in national legislation.
Wide-ranging reforms are changing people’s lives, attitudes and ways of life. The noble goal of “New Uzbekistan will be built together” has been formed in society, and the new idea “Society is the initiator of reforms” is increasingly becoming part of everyday activities.
I. PROGRESS IN PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
The People’s and Virtual Reception Centres of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, as well as the Prime Minister’s offices responsible for reviewing appeals from businessmen, play a special role in ensuring human rights and freedoms.
A number of measures have been taken to further democratize the judicial system: to ensure the supremacy of the Constitution, to ensure equality before the law, humanism, justice and the independence of the judiciary, and to introduce the principle of adversarial proceedings in the judicial process, to increase public trust in the justice system, to expand “habeas corpus”, and to strengthen judicial supervision of investigations.
The powers of lawyers in safeguarding human rights and freedoms, in the pre-trial settlement of disputes and in the conciliation of parties are being considerably expanded.
In order to ensure fairness, openness and transparency in the handling of cases in the courts, the system “Electronic Justice” has been introduced. Measures have been taken to expand the system of free legal assistance to the public, the tools of the legal information system of “Advice.uz”, and support from the NGO of “Madad”, which provides citizens with free legal advice.
Administrative, criminal, criminal procedure and penal enforcement legislation is being improved and increasingly adapted to the principle of humanism. A completely new system of pardons and the release of persons from punishment on the sponsorship of voluntary associations has been introduced. The closure of a specialized penal colony located in the village of Zhaslyk of the Republic of Karakalpakstan was an important humanitarian achievement. As a result of the measures taken, the number of convicted persons held in places of deprivation of liberty has decreased 2.5 times.
Uzbekistan actively participates in the United Nations World Programme (hereinafter referred to as the United Nations) in the field of human rights education. Large-scale measures are being taken to implement the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training.
Public authorities, civil society institutions, the mass media and educational institutions are widely involved in the process of popularizing the common values and principles of respect for and observance of human rights among the population, as well as ensuring citizens’ access to legal information.
In ensuring the political rights and freedoms of citizens, freedom of thought, speech and opinion, wide-ranging fundamental changes in public and State administration are of great importance. Effective mechanisms for parliamentary and public scrutiny are being strengthened. The responsibility of the Cabinet of Ministers to the Parliament has been significantly strengthened. The “Electronic Parliament” and “E-government” systems are being developed progressively, and measures are being taken to increase the type, capacity, quality and speed of public services.
Organisational and legal measures are being taken to strengthen the role of the Parliament, civil society institutions and the media, as well as to introduce the principles: “The people is the sole source and author of laws”, and “All important decisions shall be taken in direct dialogue with the people, taking into account the views of the public”.
Introduction of the practice of approving reports by the Chambers of the Oliy Majlis on the state of human rights in the country and national action plans (“road maps”) on cooperation with international and regional human rights mechanisms was an important new step in the legislative process.
Systematic measures are being taken to further strengthen and develop national mechanisms for the observance and protection of human rights in Uzbekistan.
The activities of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Oliy Majlis (Ombudsman) and the National Human Rights Centre have been fundamentally improved. The posts of Commissioner for the Rights of the Child and Commissioner for the Protection of the Rights and Legitimate Interests of Business Entities under the Office of the President have been created.
A unique system has been established to ensure the social and cultural rights of citizens. Over 20 State social programmes and concepts such as “Comfortable countryside”, “Comfortable mahalla”, “Youth are our future”, “The Five Initiatives” are being implemented. Within the framework of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, measures are being taken to achieve national goals and the level of States with a high human development index (intellectual potential, literacy, life expectancy), and to scale-up innovations in the social sphere.
In the field of education and training, major and far-reaching changes are under way. The Concept for the Development of Pre-school Education is being introduced, which provides for the enrolment of 74.5 per cent of children between 3 and 7 years of age in pre-school education by 2025. The 11-year school system has been restored. The number of State, non-State and foreign higher educational establishments is increasing.
The prestige of the Uzbek language in the social life of the people is being enhanced, and measures are being implemented at the international level based on the principle “From national revival to national progress”.
As a result of the health reforms, access to quality health services has been enhanced. Most importantly, life expectancy in the country increased from 67.2 years in 1990 to 74.6 years in 2020, maternal mortality was reduced by one and a half times, and child mortality by four times.
Uzbekistan has acceded to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and is implementing the Concept for the Development of Environmental Education.
Efforts to protect the rights and legitimate interests of low-income families, persons with disabilities, migrant workers, children, young people, women and the elderly, as well as to strengthen the institution of the family, have been fundamentally revised. The Concept for the Strengthening of the Family Institution, the content of which includes mechanisms for the resolution of family conflicts and the protection of the rights of women and children, has been adopted.
Several legislative acts have been adopted to ensure gender equality. These include the Laws “On Protecting Women from Harassment and Violence” and “On Guaranteeing Equal Rights and Opportunities for Women and Men” adopted in 2019. A total of 197 rehabilitation and adaptation centres for victims of violence and suicide prevention were set up for women, and more than 200 innovative schools were set up to prepare young people for family life. The minimum age for marriage for men and women was established as 18.
In order to implement international electoral standards, the Electoral Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan was adopted, on the basis of which five political parties participated for the first time in the elections held on 22 December 2019 under the motto “New Uzbekistan – New elections”. Some 825 observers from some 50 States and 10 international organisations participated in the observation of open elections on the basis of international standards, including, for the first time, a full-fledged mission of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
The problem of some 50,000 Uzbek compatriots who have lived in the country for a long time without Uzbek citizenship has been solved and legal measures have been taken to recognise them as Uzbek citizens. Efforts have been made to change the “propiska” system to a notification registration system.
All economic and social programmes and investment projects adopted for the development of small businesses and private enterprise are aimed at creating new jobs and protecting the rights and interests of migrant workers. The Employment Promotion Fund and the Fund for the Support and Protection of the Rights and Interests of Citizens Working Abroad were established.
Continued implementation of wide-ranging socio-economic reforms to improve the people’s lives, well-being and social protection based on the principle of “Serve people first” remains one of the main tasks of the public authorities.
Uzbekistan is taking wide-ranging measures to guarantee the right to freedom of conscience. To date, 2,277 religious’ organisations of 16 faiths are active in the country. Special attention is paid to the implementation of the idea “Education against ignorance”, the development of religious education and instruction, and the training of religious officials.
Uzbekistan is entering a new stage in its development as a subject of international law and is entering the arena as an active participant in international standard-setting and initiator of new international treaties.
Close partnerships with foreign rating agencies are being developed on a systematic basis in order to improve the position of Uzbekistan in economic and political and legal ratings and indices, as well as to further enhance its international standing. The National Council for Coordination of Work with Priority International Rankings and Indices has been established.
At the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly, Uzbekistan adopted a resolution entitled “Enlightenment and religious tolerance”. Uzbekistan has initiated the drafting of the UN International Convention on the Rights of Youth.
Cooperation with the United Nations Charter and Treaty bodies, as well as the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on Human Rights, is steadily being developed. In particular, the necessary measures are being taken to implement the recommendations of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special rapporteurs on freedom of religion or belief and on the independence of judges and lawyers of the United Nations Human Rights Council who have visited the country.
International partners have positively assessed Uzbekistan’s efforts to implement its international obligations under International Labour Organisation conventions, as well as the recommendations resulting from the monitoring of the cotton harvesting provided by the organisation, in particular the implementation of the Decent Work Country Programme for 2017-2020.
For the first time since the establishment of the United Nations, the Asian Human Rights Forum was organised in Samarkand. The Forum adopted the Samarkand Declaration on Human Rights, which was approved as one of the main documents of the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly. The Parliament of Uzbekistan has approved a “Roadmap” for the realization of the “Samarkand spirit” in the field of human rights.
In 2019, the VI Annual Seminar of the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, held in Tashkent, adopted the Tashkent Declaration on the Rights of Youth.
II. HUMAN RIGHTS CHALLENGES
The results of the examination of the actual human rights situation in the country, as well as the systematic analysis of the recommendations made by the UN Treaty bodies and Special rapporteurs that visited Uzbekistan and the recommendations submitted to the Universal Periodic Review and other international mechanisms show that further deepening and consistent continuation of democratic reforms in this area are required to ensure the effective protection of human rights, freedoms and legitimate interests.
First, there is a need to address legal gaps in the mechanisms for ensuring the protection of human rights and legitimate interests and the implementation of international human rights standards in legislation and law enforcement.
Second, there are no specific mechanisms for interaction between government and civil society institutions in the field of human rights. Further improvements are also needed in the system of parliamentary and public monitoring of compliance with Uzbekistan’s international human rights obligations at the appropriate level.
Third, it is necessary to establish a specific procedure for the legal regulation of the activities of public authorities in the field of human rights and for the elaboration and implementation of the necessary programme documents in this field.
Fourth, the application of international human rights instruments by the courts and law enforcement agencies should be further strengthened, and a system for monitoring respect for the rights of persons deprived of their liberty should be improved, as well as the development of specific follow-up mechanisms for the consideration of communications from treaty committees.
Fifth, the guarantees of individual, political, economic, social and cultural rights and freedoms must be strengthened, including increased accountability for violations of those rights.
Sixth, there is a need for systematic organisation of work to improve the skills of the staff of the courts, law enforcement agencies and other public authorities in order to foster a sense of respect for human rights and freedoms in society, full implementation of the recommendations of international and regional mechanisms.
In this connection, particular importance is attached to the implementation of the National Human Rights Strategy of the Republic of Uzbekistan (hereinafter referred to as the National Strategy), which sets out the following goals, objectives and main areas.
III. GOAL AND OBJECTIVES OF THE NATIONAL STRATEGY
The goal of the National Strategy is to define the main objectives and directions of the consistent State policy for ensuring human rights and freedoms in Uzbekistan.
The main objectives of the National Strategy are:
1) To improve legislation in the light of the priorities of Uzbekistan’s social and economic development, generally recognised international standards, Uzbekistan’s human rights obligations and the recommendations of the UN Charter and Treaty bodies;
2) To enhance the role of Parliament and civil society institutions in Uzbekistan’s achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals for the period up to 2030 and strengthening the rule of law; bring national legislation and law enforcement practices into line with international human rights obligations;
3) To ensure that Uzbekistan joins a number of 50 leading countries in the world on international human rights and freedoms ratings and indices (Rule of law, quality of law-making, effectiveness of government, freedom of expression and information, combate crime and corruption, business environment, global competitiveness, innovative development and others);
4) To eliminate human rights violations, ensure the independence of the judiciary, improve the functioning of the prosecution service and strengthen the powers of the justice system, as well as create a broad environment for national institutions for the protection of human rights, further development of the national system for monitoring and evaluating State policy in the field of human rights, raise the legal awareness and legal culture of the population, and fostering a culture of respect for human rights in society;
5) To increase the openness and effectiveness of cooperation between public authorities and administrations, civil society institutions, the media and the private sector in the protection of personal, political, economic, social and cultural rights; as well as improve the practice of consulting civil society institutions in the legislative process;
6) To prevent and combat crime, especially trafficking in human beings, corruption, torture, organised and transnational crime, and ensure justice and respect for human rights in the system of detention centres, remand and convicted prisoners;
7) To ensure the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities and with low incomes in accordance with the principle of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals “Leaving no one behind”, improve the quality of social support and services to persons, persons in need of special protection from the State and society, including non-nationals;
8) To further improve law enforcement practice in the field of freedom of religion, expression, opinion, access to information, non-discrimination, gender equality, equal access to quality education and health care for all; social integration of the elderly, protection of the rights of the child, youth, women, persons with disabilities and migrants;
9) To protect the institution of the family, motherhood, fatherhood and childhood, prevent of domestic violence, raising the level of legal, socio-economic and other aspects of support to counteract domestic violence;
10) To ensure the economic rights of the individual, developing the link between private property and public-private partnerships;
11) To improve the quality and coverage of education at all levels, develop continuing education, ensure inclusiveness and universal accessibility of the education system;
12) To improve the quality and target human rights education and awareness-raising activities;
13) To harmonise inter-State relations, cooperation with international organisations, introduction of innovative principles for the qualitative and timely implementation of recommendations of international human rights treaty bodies;
14) To implement measures to ensure the election of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the United Nations Human Rights Council membership.
IV. MAIN LINES OF IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NATIONAL STRATEGY
- Priorities for the protection of personal and political rights:
Increasing the responsibility of public authorities and officials to fulfil the obligations arising from international treaties on personal and political rights;
Broad application by the courts and law enforcement agencies of the principles and norms of international law and international treaties to which Uzbekistan is a party, and the establishment of an effective mechanism for the implementation of the principle of the supremacy of international law;
Ensuring the independence and impartiality of the courts, establishing the legal basis for the activities of the bodies within the judicial community, and enhancing the role of the judiciary in safeguarding the rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of the individual by further improving Habeas corpus;
The full introduction of the principles of equality and adversarial proceedings, the transformation of the legal profession into an independent and reliable human rights institution, the improvement of the quality of qualified legal assistance and the prestige of the legal profession, the improvement of the system of training of lawyers specializing in human rights;
Improving the mechanisms for ensuring the rights and safety of victims and witnesses in criminal proceedings, including juvenile victims and witnesses;
Introducing forms of activity in the prosecutorial bodies that conform with international standards, transparency and public accountability of the prosecutorial bodies, and the strengthening of the role of collegiate bodies in the management of the prosecutorial system;
Protecting citizens from any form of inequality and vulnerable groups from discrimination;
Further improvement of the mechanism for ensuring the right to privacy and the right to protection of personal data;
Improving the mechanism for creating all conditions for the development of the languages and cultures of all nations and ethnic groups living in the Republic of Uzbekistan;
Improvement of the system of free legal assistance, introduction of justice institutions providing for special attitude towards minors, and the most effective introduction into practice and legislation of the principle of the best interests of the child;
Improving the system for combating trafficking in persons and developing a comprehensive approach to identifying the causes and conditions conducive to child and female prostitution and pornography; and further improving the identification and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking in accordance with international standards;
Increasing public and political activity and the electoral culture of the population, and further improving the system of organisation and conduct of elections, taking into account international standards for democratic, fair and free elections, increasing liability for violations of the legislation on the organisation and conduct of elections or referendums;
Strengthening the role and participation of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan in upholding international standards on human rights and freedoms and introducing the institution of constitutional complaints by individuals and legal entities;
Strengthening the role of Parliament in the system of State power, further expanding the powers of Parliament in solving the most important tasks of the country’s internal and foreign policy, as well as exercising parliamentary control over the activities of the executive branch, improving the legislative work of Parliament, in particular by abolishing the reference rules of the law and increasing the practice of adopting directly regulated legislation;
Further strengthening of the role of political parties, civil society institutions and the media in protecting human rights, freedoms and legitimate interests;
Strengthening and supporting civil society institutions in the field of human rights.
- Priority areas for the protection of economic, social and cultural rights and for sustainable development:
Development and implementation of the Poverty Reduction Programme as an effective factor in ensuring economic and social rights;
Improving effective mechanisms to guarantee the inviolability of private property, and protecting the economic rights and legitimate interests of individuals and legal entities, especially entrepreneurs; as well as improving legislation to further enhance the involvement of business in the field of human rights;
Achieving a level of efficiency, universal accessibility and inclusiveness of the health-care system in developed countries, expanding the scope of health-care services, and ensuring the protection of patients’ rights in accordance with international standards, access to safe, effective, high-quality, affordable medicines and vaccines;
Protecting reproductive rights and preventing the spread of AIDS, making family planning services more accessible to women and men, and introducing reproductive health and sex education;
Improving the institutional and legal mechanisms for protecting the rights of workers, in particular, civil servants, medical personnel and teachers, from work not covered by their employment contracts and all forms of forced labour;
Protecting the rights of migrant workers and members of their families, and implementing in national legislation the recommendations to strengthen safeguards for the protection of labour rights of United Nations Treaty bodies and the International Labour Organisation;
Improving the policy of ensuring equal representation of women in public authorities, non-governmental and private organisations, especially in senior decision-making positions; implementation of measures aimed at changing public perceptions of the roles of men and women;
Development of the Concept of Social Protection of the Population, as well as the creation of a holistic system of work with the elderly and single elderly and their social support, adoption of legislation on social insurance;
Development of a separate programme for the social adaptation of young people who have been raised in orphanages, in particular for the provision of work and housing, and improvement of the legal and institutional system for stimulating adoptive parents by providing them with material and social benefits;
Development of the concept of “Youth of Uzbekistan – 2025”, which defines practical measures to involve young people in social and political life and to foster a harmonious, spiritually and physically developed generation;
Improving the mechanism for ensuring citizens' right to a pension, including the conversion of the system into an electronic format;
Further development of pre-school education (covering 74.5 per cent of children aged 3-7 and 100 per cent of children aged 6 by 2025) and development of pre-school education and upbringing; ensuring the intellectual development, care and rehabilitation of children;
Promoting lifelong learning opportunities, raising primary and general secondary education to a qualitatively new level, ensuring universal access to specialized secondary, higher, vocational and supplementary education; as well as increasing the enrolment of young people in higher education and increasing the number of quotas for higher education tuition fees granted by the State;
Ensuring universal access to safe drinking water, strengthening the promotion of rational use of water resources, increasing the participation of civil society institutions in improving water and sanitation;
Ensuring a consistent increase in urbanisation indices, developing cities and towns according to the model of modern mega-cities of the world while preserving their historical values and uniqueness, and implementing the concept of “smart and safe cities”, strengthening the protection of cultural and natural heritage sites;
In order to ensure the right of the population to live in a favourable natural environment, protection and effective use of land, water, forests, subsoil wealth, air, flora and fauna, as well as combating desertification, halting land degradation and loss of biodiversity.
- Priority lines for improving mechanisms for the implementation and monitoring of international human rights standards in legislation and law enforcement:
Raising public awareness, as well as among representatives of public authorities about the content of international treaties ratified by Uzbekistan;
Improving the procedure for handling cases involving administrative offences, and spreading introduction of modern information and communication technologies into the system;
Strengthening the legal foundations of the Public Chamber of the Office of the President with a view of establishing close cooperation between the State and society;
Further improving the legal framework for the work of national human rights institutions, the national preventive mechanism for the prevention of torture and the prevention of human rights violations in places of detention and other closed institutions;
Improving the legal status and activities of the Commissioner for Children’s Rights;
Ensuring the rights of the child to live and be brought up in a family by reforming the system of tutorship and guardianship and strengthening the social protection of orphans and children deprived of parental care; implementing the provisions of international standards on the rights of the child and ensuring effective parliamentary and public monitoring of law enforcement in this area;
Protection of the rights of persons with disabilities and systematic monitoring of their observance.
- Priority areas for improving legal literacy in the field of human rights, including effective dissemination of information and education in this area:
Development of a system of continuing education on human rights and gender issues, introduction of modern methods of building respect for law in society;
Improving the system of training and further training of professional journalists in the field of human rights, as well as the legal and organisational bases of investigative journalism;
Introduction of “Human rights”, “Women’s rights”, “Rights of the child” courses in higher educational institutions and training centres for retraining and further training of personnel, including judges and law enforcement officers, as well as pre-school and secondary schools, academic lyceums and vocational schools;
Expanding basic and innovative research and scientific potential, increasing the effectiveness of scientific research and development by research institutions in the field of human rights, ensuring their integration along with international research in this field, widespread introduction of results;
Further strengthening of the activities of the media in disseminating information in the field of human rights, strengthening the guarantees of the rights of journalists and bloggers to access and disseminate information.
- Priority areas for developing cooperation with international and regional human rights bodies and national human rights institutions of foreign countries:
Further development of bilateral and multilateral cooperation with United Nations bodies, the European Union, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation; the Commonwealth of Independent States and other organisations for the protection and observance of human rights and the realization of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals;
Consideration of matters relating to Uzbekistan’s accession to international human rights instruments, in particular those relating to respect for and protection of the rights of the child, women, persons with disabilities, older persons and migrants;
Promotion of Uzbekistan’s initiatives to adopt the International Convention on the Rights of Young People, the candidature of Uzbekistan for election to the Human Rights Council membership for 2021-2023, and the candidature of national experts for membership in the United Nations human rights bodies;
Strengthening cooperation with foreign countries on human rights, including the regular dialogues on human rights;
Strengthening mutually beneficial links with international partners in the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and on human rights issues.
V. MECHANISM FOR IMPLEMENTATION, MONITORING IMPLEMENTATION AND FUNDING OF NATIONAL STRATEGY
Public authorities and administrative bodies, law enforcement agencies, civil society institutions and the mass media shall participate in the implementation of the National Strategy. Cooperation with international organisations shall take place in the implementation of the National Strategy.
The following system shall be introduced to monitor the quality and effectiveness of the implementation of the National Strategy:
1) For the purpose of implementing the “Roadmap” in the National Human Rights Strategy of the Republic of Uzbekistan the National Human Rights Centre shall:
Regularly monitor and make proposals and recommendations to the relevant ministries and departments on the quality and timeliness of the implementation of measures;
Provide, on an ongoing basis, detailed information on specific indicators and results achieved on its website;
Submit quarterly consolidated information to the Office of the President and the Cabinet of Ministers;
Prepare, translate and publish informative and analytical commentaries;
2) The actors identified in the “Road map” as responsible for the implementation of the National Strategy for Human Rights shall submit to the National Human Rights Centre the information on the fulfilment of the tasks assigned to them till the fifth day of each month, set as a deadline;
3) The Presidium of the Cabinet of Ministers shall receive briefings from ministries and departments on the implementation of the National Strategy once in six months;
4) The chambers of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan shall hear quarterly information from the heads of ministries and departments on the implementation of the National Strategy and the “Roadmap” with subsequent critical discussions;
5) The Jokargy Kenes of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, the oblast and Tashkent City Kengashes (Councils) of People’s Deputies shall hear quarterly information from the heads of the territorial subdivisions of the ministries and departments on the regional implementation of the National Strategy and the “Roadmap” with subsequent critical discussions.
The full and systematic implementation of the National Strategy shall be widely covered in the mass media during seminars, conferences and other events.
The public and the international community shall be systematically informed of the measures taken in Uzbekistan to protect human rights and freedoms and their results.
All measures and events of the National Strategy shall be financed from the State budget.
Funds, grants from international organisations and financial institutions, as well as other means not prohibited by acts of legislation, may also be used in the framework of cooperation on implementation of the National Strategy.
VI. RESULTS EXPECTED FROM THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NATIONAL STRATEGY
The following results will be achieved through the implementation of the objectives set out in the National Strategy:
Improving the implementation of international human rights standards in legislation and law enforcement as well as improving national legislation;
Eliminating shortcomings in legislation in the fulfilment of international human rights obligations and improving the implementation of recommendations made by international organisations in the field of human rights;
Establishment of a system of institutional, legal and other comprehensive measures aimed at ensuring the reliable protection of human rights and freedoms and ensuring effective parliamentary control; as well as monitoring of territorial representative bodies and the public for the proper implementation of international obligations;
Improving the legal literacy of the population in the field of human rights, including further improving the dissemination of information and educational activities in this area, as well as further strengthening the culture of respect for human rights in society;
Improving the position of Uzbekistan in international human rights and freedoms rankings and indices by bringing the cooperation with international and regional human rights institutions to a new stage.