More than 30 years have passed since the adoption of the constitution of Turkmenistan. Over the years, the life of society and the state has changed a lot. The constitution appeared as a result of fundamental changes in the life of society. It has become the political and legal basis of the state and society at every historical stage.
Murad Khaitov, Doctor of Laws, Professor, Honored Lawyer and Honorary Elder of Turkmenistan, a columnist of CentralAsia.news, spoke about the formation and development of the fundamental law of the Central Asian country.
New state system
On May 18, 1992, Turkmenistan was one of the first Commonwealth countries to adopt its own constitution. With its adoption, the process of creating a fundamentally new state system based on the revival of national traditions and customs of the Turkmen people started. On April 20, 2023, at a meeting of the Halk Maslakhaty of Turkmenistan, the National Leader of the Turkmen people, Chairman of the Halk Maslakhaty Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov noted that «Turkmens are a people who have contributed to the development of world culture with their material and spiritual values, improving its system. Throughout history, our glorious ancestors created many states, accumulated rich experience in governing the state, improving its system, ensuring a prosperous life for the people».
Years of Independence
During the years of independence, the country has changed dramatically, national legislation has been updated — modern laws and legal acts that contributed to the development of state and public institutions have been adopted. Turkmenistan over the years has achieved significant success in establishing foreign policy contacts and has taken a worthy place in the world community of states. The constitution fixes the system of power in a given country, the role and purpose of the state, its functions and competence, internal structure, the system of state bodies, human rights and freedoms, and the foundations of local self-government. It not only formalized the results achieved, but also defined new prospects for the development of the Turkmen society and the state, and stimulated political activity, directed state bodies and public associations, and all citizens to constructive activities in the spirit of the fundamental law.
The constitution of Turkmenistan has also made a significant step forward in guaranteeing human rights and freedoms, recognizing the norms and principles of international law, not only in regulating relations between subjects of international law, but also in regulating legal relations within the country. Studying the constitutions of many countries of the world, identifying trends in world constitutional development, exploring modern methods of constitutional regulation of social relations, it must be noted that the constitution of Turkmenistan is not inferior to them, it complies with international standards. It makes an important contribution to the development of the theory and practice of constitutional law and rightfully occupies its niche in the system of Constitutions of the countries of the world.
The formation of legal statehood is a complex and long process, associated with overcoming many difficulties. The fundamental law of our country enshrined the progressive principles of the state, the rule of law, sovereignty, the division of power into legislative, executive and judicial branches, the inviolability of fundamental human rights and freedoms, and the recognition of local self-government. These fundamental values today define the face of modern Turkmenistan as a worthy member of the world community. And, finally, the special importance of the constitution lies in the fact that it is the supporting framework of the modern pyramid of national law.
The constitution affects the state and society, determining the content of the basic principles of the development of society, the conditions and direction for maintaining the legal order in the state. The state is a tool for solving the problems of society and the strategic goals of the democratic future of the country. Being the fundamental law, the constitution differs from other laws of the state with its content, the procedure for adoption and amendment, the special role and place it occupies in the system of current law. It is the constitution that contains the most important legal norms, which have not only the highest legal force, but also a higher level of generalization of legal regulation than the norms of other laws, as a strong support for political power and the self-preservation of society.
Evolution of the constitution
It is known that the future is rooted in the past and the present. The constitution of Turkmenistan has seriously changed over the years of independence. In the process of its evolution, the constitution of Turkmenistan has gone through several stages of modernization — in 1995, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2016, 2017, 2020 and 2023. Each of them led to fundamental changes in the socio-economic and socio-political sphere, making a significant contribution to the development of the country. Modernization of the constitution marks a new stage in the socio-economic and socio-political development, performs a constituent function. It is connected with the withdrawal of public institutions of power to a new level. Modern Turkmenistan today is at the stage of formation of a new system of supreme state administration, based on the principles of separation of powers and delegating the powers of the people to their representatives. In 2023, a new system of representative bodies of power was formed, the Halk Maslakhaty of Turkmenistan and the Mejlis (Parliament) were formed. This is truly a momentous event in history. The Halk Maslakhaty is the highest representative body representing the interests of the people of Turkmenistan. The constitutional status of the Halk Maslakhaty of Turkmenistan characterizes not so much its functional purpose, but rather the very nature of the highest representative body, and through the prism of exclusive powers — the way of its expression and implementation. In the context of permanent political and economic modernization of society and the state, the need to create a coherent and at the same time effective legal framework is increasing. The Mejlis is a representative body exercising legislative power, the main subject in the implementation of this task.
«Triad» of representative bodies
At present, as a result of the modernization of public authorities, an integral system of vertical representative bodies has been formed in Turkmenistan. The existing «triad» of representative bodies ensures that the various interests of society and the state are taken into account, mutually agreed upon relationships at all levels of state (people’s and national) and local (territorial) representation. At the same time, each of the levels acts in strict accordance with its constitutional and legal status, its place in the system of representative bodies and within its jurisdiction, independently, without subordination to each other.
The social value of the constitution
The constitution has not only legal, but also social significance, it also has social value. The social purpose of the constitution is that it regulates the most important institutions of the country’s social and state structure from the point of view of the interests of the people. It is the central source and core of the current national law, the legal basis of the current legislation. The fundamental law of Turkmenistan influences in various ways the development of national law and the legal system, the formation of new institutions of statehood, defining the main goals and objects of legal regulation and establishing the foundations for all law-making activities of state bodies.
The constitution today reflects not only what already exists in reality, but also determines the prospects for the further development of Turkmenistan as an equal subject of the states of the world community. It creates a holistic mechanism for the effective interaction of all components of the state structure, power and people.