Buraku Liberation News  March 2000 No.113

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

(Last part of the series)

What should be done in the latter half of the Decade ?

The following are the points to be tackled in the latter half of the Decade.

First of all, the plans of actions of UN, national and local governments express their great expectations of the mass media's contribution to the promotion of human rights education. However, the mass media have not taken major initiatives so far. On the contrary, human rights are often violated by the reports of newspapers, TV and magazines.

It is needed to establish a system to promote human rights education and conduct systematic trainings for people working in the field of the mass media. Detailed reports and programs on the Decade should be produced from the perspective of human rights.

Secondly, human rights education targeted to the religious sector is also very important. Religion is deeply related to people's lives. Given the purpose of the Decade is to build a universal culture of human rights, initiatives of religious sector are indispensable in realizing it.

However, as human rights violations by people belonging to religious organizations occur one after another, including the criminal incidents brought about by the Aum Shinrikyo Cult, a doomsday cult, the promotion of human rights education in this sector is strongly required.

Thirdly, human rights education toward members of national and local assemblies is also very important. While the Plan of Action proposed by the UN Secretary-General emphasizes the importance of promoting human rights education among members of assemblies, the Japan's National Plan and most of the local governments' plans fail to include it. (The Plan of Action of Wakayama Prefecture includes the promotion of human rights education to members of assemblies.)

It is decisively important that human rights education is given to the members of assemblies. They should understand its significance well because they have the authority for legislation and budget allocation. In that respect, the activities of the Study Group of 21st Century Human Rights Policies organized by Diet members should be vitalized. Initiatives of a group consisted of members of local assemblies in Osaka, organized in 1999 to promote the Decade, should also be spread to other parts of the country.

Fourth, the promotion of human rights education targeted to judges is necessary. This is also what the UN Plan of Action refers to as one of the important programs. However, Japan's National Plan fails to include it. Considering that the final measures to remedy a victim of human rights violations is a trial, it is very important for judges to understand well human rights including international standards. In reality, there are only a few judges who understand the international human rights standard. Systematic initiatives should be taken to give judges human rights education.

Fifth, human rights education targeting discriminated-against groups should be developed. It is quite important for people discriminated-against to have a consciousness of human rights and achieve self-realization by empowering themselves.

In relation to this, the Izumi Branch of the BLL Osaka developed its plan of action concerning the Decade. Similar efforts should be strengthened in other groups and sectors.


I have pointed out the achievements and what should be done by each sector, including national and local governments, private corporations, and schools. Before ending this article, I would like to emphasize that there were consistent efforts calling for the promotion of the Decade by private sectors, such as the Japan Teachers Union, the Buraku Liberation League (BLL), the National Federation of Dowa Educators Associations, the Association of Community Halls, the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism Japan Committee (IMADR-JC), and the Osaka Liaison Conference for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Further efforts by these NGOs are expected to push forward to implement the Decade.

Year 2000 is the mid-year of the Decade. The UN and other organizations concerned will review their plans of actions. It would be significant that NGOs and local governments, taking this opportunity, collectively sponsor conferences at local and national level to review the first 5 years and to clarify the goals of the latter 5 years. It is also important to propose subjects to be tackled at UN and national level in the latter half.

In facing the 21st Century, human rights situations are still critical at home as well as outside Japan. For example, the Russian Army has been bombing Chechnya, and religious conflicts have been intensified in Indonesia. In Japan, there are many incidents in which human lives are made light of, such as phantom killings and murders for insurance. In addition, many scandals are disclosed one after another where professionals, such as police officers and judges, neglect protecting human rights in their duties.

In November 1998 the UN Human Rights Committee considered the 4th periodic report of the Japanese government concerning the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and issued its concluding observations, including many recommendations. It is necessary to implement these recommendations concretely.

Faced with the human rights situations at home and abroad, we can see efforts for the Decade are of great significance. This year, the last year of the 20th Century, the latter half of the Decade starts. Besides, year 2000 falls on the International Year for Culture of Peace, which UNESCO advocates aiming to establish peaceful and non-violent society.

If the national government as well as all local governments, all private corporations, schools, the mass media, the religious sector, members of assemblies, judges and the groups discriminated-against assume their full-scale efforts for the Decade this year, Japan will contribute to the international community in creating a society of the 21st century where universal culture of human rights are built, and peace and human rights are guaranteed.

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