Buraku Liberation News, May 1997 issue (N0.96)

1. Let's build a universal culture of human rights by promoting the UN Decade for Human Rights Education

Kenzo Tomonaga
Director of the Buraku Liberation Research Institute

The UN Decade for Human Rights Education (1995 - 2004) steps into its third year. In Japan, with the approach made by NGOs, including the BLL, the National Dowa Educators' Organization, the Japan Teachers' Union, and International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism-Japan Committee (IMADR-JC), in December 1995 the government created the Headquarters for the Promotion of Human Rights Education, chaired by the Prime Minister. In 1996, the Japanese government released an interim National Plan of Action for human rights education. At local levels, the Osaka Prefectural and City governments, Sakai City, Fukuoka Prefectural and City governments have created headquarters for the promotion of human rights education, and have been making their own plans. I will point out in this article the orientation and essential factors of the UN Decade for Human Rights Education in order for us to accelerate and expand such a positive tendency. In the resolution for the Decade adopted by the UN General assembly, human rights education is defined as a comprehensive life-long process by which people at all levels in development and in all strata of society learn respect for the dignity of others and the means and methods of ensuring that respect in all societies. In the Plan of Action for the Decade, human rights education shall be defined as training, dissemination and information efforts aimed at the building of a universal culture of human rights through the imparting of knowledge and skills and the moulding of attitudes. In promoting the Decade in Japan, it is necessary for us to reaffirm the above-mentioned contexts. In addition, the Plan of Action addressed several important points as follows. ---Special emphasis shall be given to human rights education activities under the Decade to human rights of vulnerable groups. ---The Decade shall be directed to creating the awareness and understanding of all the norms and concepts enshrined in the international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. --- Special emphasis shall be given to training of teachers, government officials, police, armed forces, judges, employers, trade unions officials and other groups which are in a particular position to effect realization of human rights. ---Education shall be conceived to include the equal participation of all people both in formal learning through schools and in non-formal learning through institutions of civil society, the family and the mass media. ---The Decade shall be implemented at the international, regional, national and local levels. ---Every state will be requested to draw up a national plan of action for human rights education by designating a national focal point. ---The active engagement of non-governmental organizations and professional associations shall be encouraged to assist in making a national plan of action. --- Every state will be encouraged to establish human rights resource and training centers at the national and local levels.

In Japan, the Consultative Council on Regional Improvement Measures, organized by the Management and Coordination Agency, presented the orientation aimed to solve the Buraku problem as well as seeking for the establishment of human rights in Japan in facing the 21st century, by offering their opinion to the government on May, 1996. The opinion suggested the necessity of efforts, including legislative measures, to implement the projects to improve discriminatory social conditions, as well as to promote human rights education and enlightenment to eliminate deep-rooted discrimination consciousness in society, and to set up a relief institution for victims of human rights violations. With regard to the projects, in March 1997 the Diet approved with a partial revision of the 5-year extension of the Law Regarding the Special Fiscal Measures of the Government for Regional Improvement Projects. As to measures for education & enlightenment and relief institution, the Law for the Measures for Promotion of Human Rights Protection was enacted at the 139th extraordinary Diet session held in December 1996. The law stipulates that the government shall establish the Council for Promoting Human Rights Protection that is required to conclude a policy recommendation for the measures, including legislative measures, of human rights education and enlightenment within 2 years, and for the relief measures for the victims of human rights violations within 5 years. The enactment of the law encourages our commitment to the UN Decade for Human Rights Education. The law has a potential to facilitate us to establish culture for human rights in every corner of society. Therefore we have to have the meaningful measures brought about to us.