President Tsakhiagiin ELBEGDORJ
Tsakhiagiin ELBEGDORJ was elected President of Mongolia on May 25, 2009 and sworn into office on June 18, 2009. He had previously served two terms as Prime Minister and held the positions of Deputy Speaker and Majority Leader in Parliament.
President Elbegdorj led the peaceful democratic revolution in 1990 that ended 70 years of communist rule in Mongolia. Since then, he has initiated and led the country's major social and economic reforms, which include fighting corruption, liberalizing economic policies, privatizing livestock, deploying housing policies, reducing taxes, and eliminating bureaucracy and red tape.
His priorities – promoting the rule of law, fostering social justice, fighting poverty, combating corruption and supporting direct participatory democracy – have won him widespread praise and acclaim, most recently from the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, during her visit to Ulaanbaatar on July 9, 2012.
Raised close to nature as a nomad, President Elbegdorj actively speaks out for environmental conservation thus he has set forth environmental protection as one of his core presidential policies. He was recently awarded a Champion of the Earth award from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
President Elbegdorj implemented Mongolia’s first comprehensive judicial reform. In April 2011 he convened a Judicial Reform and Justice Forum encompassing legislative and institutional reforms, while guaranteeing political, economic and legal security for the judiciary. The reform ensures open and transparent trials. It also introduced laws to guarantee the impartiality of judges while establishing mechanisms to ensure that new judges are selected fairly and strictly on merit. Also, an important tenet of the judicial reform is promoting the role of citizens in judicial procedures. To that end, the reform will enable citizen representatives to participate in trials in order to promote the legitimacy of the legal system. Moreover, citizen representatives will boost public confidence in the courts, while increasing popular awareness of and civic involvement in the judiciary. President Elbegdorj also ordered all judicial decisions to be promptly published on the Internet so as to keep the public informed and up to date.
As the chair of the Community of Democracies, President Elbegdorj has launched a number of initiatives which are vital to both mature and emerging democracies around the world. These include Zero Tolerance for Corruption and Education for Democracy, which he declared during the 66th General Assembly of the United Nations. The Presidents of Finland, Nigeria and Romania, as well as the Prime Minister of Luxembourg - all supported President Elbegdorj’s initiative on Education for Democracy. Reaffirming this agenda, President Elbegdorj led discussions at the UN Alliance for Civilization Forum in December 2011 in Doha, Qatar under the title The Role of Democratic Knowledge and Education in Understanding the Fundamental Basis of Democracy in Different Cultures.
Aiming to further consolidate democracy in Asia, President Elbegdorj established the Asian Partnership for Democracy initiative within the confines of the Community of Democracies. When asked how Mongolia will impact democracies around the globe, President Elbegdorj said: “We do not have anything to teach, but we have something to share with the rest of Asia and the world”. Furthermore, within the Community of Democracies President Elbegdorj has developed a special agenda on strengthening civil society and advocating women’s rights, particularly their political rights, while actively promoting women’s participation in all levels of government and social institutions.
President Elbegdorj has prioritized education and democracy in Asia as core items on Mongolia’s agenda to promote global peace and prosperity. He welcomes western education at tertiary level educational institutions in Mongolia through establishing affiliate universities to attract students from the central and North East Asian region – Buryat, Tuva of Russia, Inner Mongolia of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and North Korea. Witnessing democratic and liberal values of open and free Mongolia, these students would become the ambassadors of reforms and democratization in their countries and regions.
Highlights from the Biography of President Elbegdorj:
Freedom loving spirit has been an innate part of President Elbegdorj since his childhood in a nomadic herdsman’s family.
- 1979-1982, President Elbegdorj, as a high school student and later, a young factory worker, becomes a proactive member of his city’s (Erdenet, Mongolia) “Literature Unit.” In the communist Mongolia, the “unit” served as the cell for dissidents of regime to exchange their various views and ideas as freely as possible through the discussion of literary works.
- 1983-1988, President Elbegdorj studies at the USSR, the present day city of Lviv in the Western part of Ukraine. Young Elbegdorj, influenced by the reformist ideas of former USSR President Gorbachev, becomes an active member of the student movement there. A student of the Lviv Land Forces Military Academy, Elbegdorj makes contact with the underground anti-communist group in Western Ukraine and participates in the meetings organized by them. Mr. Elbegdorj also attempts to publish an independent newspaper for students called “Ulaan Och” (Red Spark), as a result, the Red Army Political Department gave him a warning to expel from university.
- 1988-1989, upon completing his studies in Lviv, Elbegdorj, a free-minded military journalist, returns home to become a very active member of the Mongolian Army literature unit.
Soon President Elbegdorj takes an active part in organizing the Youth Conference in October 1989, which was the launching pad of the anti-communist movement. There he publicly criticized the political situation in Mongolia for the first time and announced the establishment of the first non-communist democratic movement - Mongolian Democratic Union, thereby making the big stride of reform.
On a cold winter day of December 10 of 1989, the UN Human Rights Day, the first official anti-communist demonstration, organized by MDU, was held in Ulaanbaatar which brought together 1000 brave young reformists. Taking the microphone and moderating this event firsthand was a brave move for President Elbegdorj. Regardless of KGB investigations, since then, he became the constant moderator and organizer of the MDU member meetings, including the March 1990 Hunger Strikes to bring down the nation’s communist party’s “Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party” Politburo.
- April, 1990, President Elbegdorj founds Mongolia’s first independent newspaper, Democracy andworks as its first editor-in-chief. The newspaper played a major role in a successful completion of the Democratic Revolution in Mongolia. President Elbegdorj also helped establish the country’s first independent TV station. Moreover, he co-initiated a law on freedom of the press in Mongolia.
- July, 1990, Mongolia’s first free election takes place. President Elbegdorj becomes a Member of Parliament.
- 1990-1992, as a Member of Parliament, President Elbegdorj becomes one of the drafting members of Mongolia’s first post-communist Constitution and instills in it the core values of freedom, human rights and democracy of modern day Mongolia.
- 1991, advocating free-market economy, President Elbegdorj founds and leads Mongolia's first Entrepreneurs Association that helped privatize livestock for free to their herders from the socialist collective farms. This livestock was the first private property for almost half of Mongolia’s entire population.
- Since 1992 President Elbegdorj has been serving as the Permanent Member of the Steering Council of “Young Leader” Foundation. Since 2003 President Elbegdorj has been the Honorary President of the Mongolian Democratic Union, and the “Young Leader” Foundation.
- Since 1993 President Elbegdorj has served as the Member of the Board of Directors of the Academy of Political Education.
- 1994, President Elbegdorj criticizes the KGB system of Mongolia, as a result, he is investigated for leaking state secret. He voluntarily gives up his Member of the Parliament status and immunity and openly demands that the system of intelligence is in need of drastic reforms.
After this, in 1994-1996, the Democratic Party chairman Elbegdorj campaigns throughout the country, reviving Democratic Party quarters throughout all provinces of Mongolia. President Elbegdorj makes fundamental changes in the party rules and structure, thus reforming the country’s main democratic political party and leading the Democratic party win the Parliamentary election for the first time in 1996.
- 1996-1998, President Elbegdorj served as Vice Speaker of the Parliament and chaired the National Committee on Rehabilitation of Victims of Political Purges; instituted a Day to Honor the Victims of Political Repressions, and brought the State to publicly apologize to the people of Mongolia for its political purges.
- 1996-2000, President Elbegdorj becomes the majority leader in the Parliament and launches fundamental social and economic restructuring reforms after 75 years of rule of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party. Free market reforms and new democratic institutions replaced the old communist structures and ensued deep changes in the mindset and political and social culture of the Mongolian people.
- 1998, President Elbegdorj becomes the youngest Prime Minister in Mongolian history at the age of 35. As soon as he assumes the Premiership, Mr. Elbegdorj initiates land reform, and the Law on Freedom of Press. President Elbegdorj conducts drastic reforms in the country’s collapsing banking and financial sector and lays the foundation to a new banking and financial system. When he was Prime Minister and Vice Speaker of the Parliament, President Elbegdorj remains the majority leader in the Parliament, a key political position in the parliamentary republic,
From here on, President Elbegdorj begins his untiring fight against corruption. At the time, half of Mongolia’s budget was earned by “Erdenet”—Mongolian-Russian joint venture which was lead by a network of few people. The government of Mr. Elbegdorj was able to take out the General Director of the joint venture. Unfortunately, shortly after that, the opposition and some of his DP colleagues cooperated to bring Mr. Elbegdorj down from Prime Minister’s post.
- 2004-2006, President Elbegdorj serves as Prime Minister for the second time and heads Mongolia’s first grand coalition government. During that time President Elbegdorj was able to transform Mongolia’s economy to a surplus economy for the first time; now under his presidency, Mongolia has become the fastest growing economy in the world. As PM, President Elbegdorj sought out to empower the people, provide greater government transparency, and strengthen the fight against corruption. The poll result showed that the most corrupt agency at that time was the Customs Authority. Twenty high-ranking officials were investigated and the network of people who financed the old Communist Party was exposed.
After this, President Elbegdorj’s government touched Ulaanbaatar city’s illegal land distribution network. Yet the opposition did not support these policies and actions within the government, thus leading to his resignation.
- 2006-2008, President Elbegdorj for the second time becomes the chairman of the Democratic Party, and introduces through his party caucus in the Parliament a flat tax system, known as “Four TENs” (10% corporate income, 10% individual income, 10% VAT and 10% social insurance contributions). As a lasting legacy of comprehensive economic and social policies, spearheaded by President Elbegdorj, the tax reform played a crucial role in instituting free market incentives.
- May 24, 2009, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj is elected the President of Mongolia. A passionate advocate of freedom, democracy, human rights, progressive reforms, environment and education, President Elbegdorj initiates a comprehensive judicial reform and announces corruption as the mortal enemy of a democratic society.
- December 2009, President Elbegdorj establishes the Citizens’ Hall in the Government House that serves as a podium for every citizen to express his or her views of the government decisions before they are made official.
- December 2009, President Elbegdorj participates in the UN Climate Change Conference COP15 and becomes a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Climate Change.
- January 14, 2010, President Elbegdorj announces a moratorium on Capital Punishment which was applauded by the international community, particularly the United Nations, European Union and the countries that already abolished the death penalty. In January 2012, the Mongolian Parliament approved the Law to join the 2nd Optional Protocol to the Convention on Civil and Political Rights, thus further advancing the President’s initiative to fully abolish death penalty in Mongolia.
- May 2010, President Elbegdorj decrees to institute a Tree Planting Day in Mongolia and reads lectures on environmental protection at the University of Tokyo in November 2010, and Lomonosov Moscow State University in June 2011.
- October 3, 2010, at ASEM8 Summit President Elbegdorj openly demands Myanmar’s authority to free Noble Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest and not long afterwards she was released.
- April 2011, President Elbegdorj hosts the World Economic Forum’s Partnering Against Corruption Initiative’s roundtable in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia in April 2011.
- June 2011, President Elbegdorj commits to form a Mongolian Alliance for Water Security, and by cooperating with the World Economic Forum’s Water Resources Group, he hosts “Water Secure Future in Mongolia” conference in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia on June 3, 2011. This initiative made water issues the top agenda of the Government and civil society in order to shape and carry out the transformation of Mongolia’s water sector.
- July 2011, Mongolia assumed the Chairmanship of the Community for Democracies. Upon receiving the Chairmanship, President Elbegdorj said: ”God [has] planted in every heart the desire to live free. Even if tyranny crushed that desire, that desire will rise again. In the mountains of Afghanistan, in the sandy homes of the Middle East, in the streets of Havana, in the jungles of Burma, in the steppes of Asia and Africa, there are many people who are still dreaming of greater freedom and peace. I hope that dream will come true and we will help them make it happen.”
- September 22, 2011, The National Endowment for Democracy presents the New York Democracy Forum Presidential Medal to President Elbegdorj.
- October 18, 2011, International Organization “Hands Off Cain” awards the “Abolitionist of the Year 2011” Prize to President Elbegdorj.
- April, 2012, President Elbegdorj speaks at the Parliament of Kyrgyzstan and meets Kyrgyz NGOs and students to encourage the democratic transition in Kyrgyzstan. “Mongolia has nothing to teach Kyrgyz people, but we have lessons to share with our Kyrgyz brothers with whom we share historical roots and legacies”.
Upon his return from Kyrgyzstan, President Elbegdorj, in the spirit to promote world peace and democracy, initiates to establish the Democratic Transition Assistance Foundation of Mongolia. Starting from 2012, Mongolian budget allocates certain funds, to be doubled on an annual basis. The Foundation supports democratic transitions in Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan, and economic reforms in countries such as North Korea, Myanmar and others by sharing Mongolia’s experiences in democratic transition and consolidation – strengthening civil society, promoting free press, women’s rights and participation, education for democracy, harnessing the rule of law etc.
Between April to August, 2012, the Foundation hosted 4 delegations from Kyrgystan - to share judicial reform, mineral legislation reform experiences, a media delegation and hosting the Honorable Roza Otunbayeva, former President of Kyrgyz Republic. It also received two delegations from North Korea, one delegation from Myanmar and a young diplomats group from Afghanistan.
- June, 2012, President Elbegdorj is named Champion of the Earth by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP).
- July 9, 2012, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Mongolia. She commends Mongolia’s leadership in promoting and consolidating democracy and praises President Elbegdorj for his role in advancing democracy, battling corruption and promoting women in Mongolian society.
- September 1-2, 2012, President Elbegdorj visits the Iranian nuclear facility in Natanz, within the NAM Summit program. President Elbegdorj’s standing on Iran’s nuclear program is clear. He says:” [The Iranian nuclear program] has to be transparent to the world; in particular, the program must be under permanent supervision of the UN and the IAEA. Iran’s nuclear program must not endanger or cause threat to the interest and security of regional peace as well as of any other nation. Mongolia remains committed to safeguarding her nuclear weapon free status, supported by special UN resolutions. Mongolia shall seek to contribute to securing universal peace by fully banning nuclear weapons in East Asia and the world at large.
- September, 2012, President Elbegdorj meets Mr. Kim Yong-Nam, the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK in Tehran. President Elbegdorj reaffirms Mongolia’s position of using peaceful dialogues as a means to handle issues on the Korean peninsula. Mongolia closely observes the economic reform program initiated by the new leader of the DPRK and President Elbegdorj expressed readiness to share Mongolia’s economic transition experiences with the DPRK. President Elbegdorj also said Mongolia could render food aid to DPRK through bilateral and multilateral channels.
President Elbegdorj was born in Zereg Sum of Khovd province in Mongolia on March 8, 1963. He and his wife Bolormaa Khadjidsuren have 5 children and are foster parents to 20 orphans. Elbegdorj holds Master of Public Administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government (2002) and Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Land Forces Military Academy, Lviv, former USSR (1988). President Elbegdorj served in the Mongolian army.
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