Buraku Liberation News  January 2000 No.112

Towards the Creation of a HRs Culture in Every Field of Society.

What Should We Do to Promote the "UN Decade (1995-2004)" ?

Kenzo Tomonaga
Director  BLHRRI

(Second part of the series)

What has been done by local governments during the first half of the Decade ?

The UN Decade for Human Rights Education aims at building a universal culture of human rights. Local governments must play important roles leading to successful achievements for the Decade, since people live in each community. Efforts by local governments bore fruits to a certain extent. 

Out of 47 prefectures in all of Japan, 19 prefectures released plans of action for the Decade after establishing promotion headquarters, placing either a governor or vice-governor as chair and involving all the chiefs of departments of the prefectural government.

In drawing up the action plans, many of the prefectures organized a consultative council consisting of academics and citizens, in order to make a comprehensive plan. 

For example, Nara Prefecture's plan has eight chapters: introduction, basic understanding, current situation of human rights education (HRE) in Nara, creation of a favorable environment to promote HRE, promotion of HRE at every possible opportunity, measures for important issues, and promotion of international cooperation, promotion of the action plan. 

In the chapter on the creation of a favorable environment to promote HRE, it points out the necessity to create a learning environment, the training of human resources, the development of learning and teaching methods, dissemination of information, utilization of volunteers, in addition to cooperation with the national government, local governments, other government bodies concerned, NGOs and private firms.

On the other hand, not a few municipal governments have established promotion headquarters and drawn up their own plans of action. In Osaka Prefecture, not only Osaka City but also all the other municipalities have promotion headquarters, half of which have action plans.

In addition, many local governments enacted ordinances aimed to eliminate Buraku discrimination and protect human rights, many of which stipulate the promotion of HRE. As of October 1999, 601 local governments have such ordinances. 

What should local governments keep in mind in the latter half of the Decade ?

Local governments should keep the following points in mind.

- All the prefectural governments should establish promotion headquarters and draw up action plans. The same efforts should be exerted by all the municipal governments.

- Local governments that already have action plans should disseminate information and implement the plan. Efforts should be made to train trainers and facilitators, develop teaching materials, methods and curricula.

- It is necessary to establish a center, at as many places as possible, that has various educational materials, human resources and information on HRE. Such centers must be either newly established or developed from existing community centers.

- It is necessary for local governments to actively support initiatives for human rights awareness-raising programs conducted by NGOs and NPOs.

- It is important to include human rights- oriented policies in the administration, by reviewing all the administrative policies and practices.

- It is necessary for local governments that released action plans earlier to undertake a mid-term review on the implementation and redevelop the plan.

- It is required for all the local governments to enact an ordinance aimed to respect human rights, placing the promotion of HRE and human rights awareness-raising as an important pillar.

What should private firms keep in mind in the latter half of the Decade ?

Initiatives have been taken by private firms, such as awareness-raising seminars focusing on Buraku and other human rights issues. However, such efforts have not achieved much success. 

Faced with several incidents in which human rights are violated, such as a large scale discriminatory background investigation, conducted by detective agencies, and disclosed in June 1998 in Osaka, it is necessary for private firms to take initiatives related to the Decade.

The following are the points to be kept in mind.

- It is necessary for private firms to include the Decade as one of the subjects of corporate training seminars.

- It is necessary for private firms to include the International Covenants (on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and on Civil and Political Rights), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and International Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination as one of the subjects of corporate training seminars. Each firm should abide by those laws.

- It is necessary to present issues, such as women, persons with disabilities, foreign residents, people infected with HIV, as well as the Buraku issue, at corporate training seminars.

- Such seminars should be conducted at each corporation targeted to all the employees, including the president.

- In the face of the beginning of the latter half of the Decade, it is advisable for corporations to draw up their own plan for their training programs.

- It is indispensable to set up an appropriate system and allocate a budget in order to facilitate human rights training.

- It is necessary to reorient corporations so that they put value on respecting human rights by reviewing all the corporate activities.

What should schools keep in mind in the latter half of the Decade ?

Schools should also take initiatives in relation to the Decade. It is important to develop HRE by succeeding the achievements of Dowa education (Buraku Liberation Education). Dowa education must be placed as an important issue in HRE. 

Based on this idea, many efforts have been already taken in many schools, such as developing original teaching materials and curricula in addition to drawing up a basic policy for HRE. 

In line with such an orientation, further efforts should be taken to overcome 'collapse of class' emerging in schools threatening the stable provision of education and to eliminate child abuse and sexual harassment of students.

In the beginning of the latter half of the Decade, the following are the points to be remembered to promote HRE.

- All the schools, including nursery school, kindergarten, compulsory education, upper secondary education and higher education, should offer classes in the framework of the Decade.

- It is necessary to disseminate UNDHR, ICESCR, ICCPR, CRC (Convention on the Rights of the Child) to teachers, students and parents at every level of school.

- Human rights should be included in curricula at all schools and be regarded as one of the most important themes of the Integrated Learning Program that will be introduced from 2002 school year.

- It is required to provide teachers and parents with human rights training. In relation to this, it is meaningful to establish an international human rights postgraduate school to provide a training course for possible HRE leaders/trainers working in various fields of society, in addition to researching HRE comprehensively.

- It is necessary to further develop the methods of HRE and textbooks, and curricula for schools.

- It is necessary to promote education, bring up children and make town planning, in collaboration with school, home, and community.

- In solution to educational problems, including children's refusal to go to school, and 'collapse of class', efforts should be made to reform schools and education based on an idea of human rights culture.

(to be continued)

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