Limited Progress: Religious Freedom and Covenantal Pluralism in Uzbekistan

Dmytro Vovk is Director of the Centre for the Rule of Law and Religion Studies, Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University in Kharkiv, Ukraine, and co-editor of Talk About: Law and Religion

Elizabeth A. Clark is Associate Director, International Center for Law and Religion Studies and Regional Advisor for Europe at the J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University

In December 2020, the U.S. State Department announced that Uzbekistan would be removed from its Special Watch List for religious freedom violations. Some observers welcomed this decision celebrating the country’s significant progress in protecting religious freedom, while others were more pessimistic, claiming that many burdensome restrictions are still in force and there is much work to be done by the government in order to meet international standards. As legal scholars who have closely studied Uzbekistan’s laws and political culture vis-à-vis religion, we take a mixed view: real progress has been made, but continuation and consolidation of progress will require significant “top-down” and “bottom-up” engagement and reform.

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