Section 4. Social, Human Rights and Cultural Issues



1.  Social Issues


(1)  Children

(a)  The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), which marked the 40th anniversary in 1986, initially was engaged in the relief of children in areas devastated by war, but now centers its operations on the aid of children in developing countries and disaster-stricken countries. At the Executive Board meeting in April 1986, member states expressed their support for the Child Survival and Development Revolution (universal child immunization, in particular) being pushed by UNICEF with the principal aim of lowering the mortality of infants, and decided to increase assistance to Africa.

(b)  Japan has been actively cooperating with activities of UNICEF, and in fiscal 1986 extended $16 million in contributions for general resources. In the private sector, the Japan Committee for UNICEF has been engaged in fund-raising and other activities to drum up support for UNICEF, and private-sector contributions have exceeded $4.70 million.


(2)  Disabled Persons

As a follow-up to the International Year of Disabled Persons (IYDP) in 1981, the 37th session of the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed a United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons, from 1983 to 1992. The 41st General Assembly session adopted a resolution welcoming an offer from the Government of Sweden to host a 1987 meeting of experts (the majority being disabled persons).


(3)  Youth

As a follow-up to the International Youth Year in 1985, the 41st General Assembly session adopted a resolution urging member states and United Nations organizations to continue to carry out priority measures for guaranteeing employment, education and other rights for the young people.


(4)  Narcotic Drug Problem

(a)  In light of the seriousness of drug abuse problems, the 41st session of the General Assembly adopted resolutions seeking (i) promotion of a study on a new treaty for controlling illicit trafficking of drugs (which started at the 39th session), in addition to the "Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs" and the "Convention on Psychotropic Substances," and (ii) cooperation of member states for the International Conference on Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (to be sponsored by the United Nations in Vienna in June 1987 at the proposal of the Secretary-General).

(b)  In addition to active participation in above-mentioned activities at the United Nations, Japan has been promoting international cooperation to solve the drug problems, including (i) contributions of $950,000 in fiscal 1986 to the United Nations Fund for Drug Abuse Control (UNFDAC) that provides funds to projects on narcotics controlling, and (ii) cooperation for the holding of an international seminar on drug problems in the Asia-Pacific region sponsored by the United Nations Asia and Far East Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders in August 1986 for narcotics control officials from 16 countries and areas, including Thailand, the Philippines and China.



2.  Human Rights


(1)  During fiscal 1986, Japan continued to actively participate in the works of the United Nations dealing with human tights questions, such as the Third Committee of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Commission on Human Rights. However, like other bodies of the U.N., activities in this area were also affected by the financial crisis of the United Nations, as is shown in the cancellation of a session of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities.

(2)  At the Third Committee of the 41st General Assembly session in the autumn of 1986, efforts were made to rationalize the work methods and to search for a more effective management of the session, which resulted in limited success such as shortening of the length of the session. But these efforts met some difficulties partly because of varying degrees of priorities to which member states attach with regard to the respective matters to be taken up during the session. As in the past, the 41st session had a long list of human rights agenda to deal with from thematic items to the human rights situation in specific countries. It should be noted that the Declaration on the Rights to Development, which had been pending for long years was adopted. The declaration may well be said to symbolize the wish of developing countries that the North-South problem should be dealt with in the contex of human rights issue as well.

(3)  The 43rd session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, held in Geneva from February to March in 1987, adopted about 70 resolutions and decisions. Besides the genuine human rights questions, there has been a growing tendency in its deliberation at the Commission toward linking human rights issues with those of development, and the Commission also showed a higher degree of politicization of human rights questions, such as through the consideration of a resolution on the human rights situation in Cuba in addition to the areas taken up in previous sessions. Against these background, Japan participated constructively in the deliberation based on the position that the Commission must play an effective role in truly improving the human rights situation.



3.  Refugee Problem


(1)  There are over 10 million refugees in the world, including 1.70 million Indochinese refugees, 4.40 million Afghan refugees, 3.50 million in Africa and 2.00 million Palestinian refugees, posing not only humanitarian problems but also serious political problems that could affect the peace and security of the areas concerned.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other United Nations agencies are providing relief assistance to these refugees and at the same time are seeking so-called durable solutions to the refugee problem-(a) voluntary repatriation to their countries of origin, (b) local integration in countries of first-asylum, and (c) resettlement in third countries. While there are a number of difficulties in voluntary repatriation mainly because of political reasons, local integration in first-asylum countries and resettlement in third countries are being promoted for refugees in Africa and those from Indochina, respectively.

(2)  The UNHCR Executive Committee at its meeting in October 1986 discussed relief operations for refugees and promotion of durable solutions as well as problems of irregular movements by refugees in European countries, armed attacks on refugee camps and refugee aid development programe designed to alleviate the burdens of first-asylum countries.

(3)  Japan is actively participating in refugee assistance activities at the United Nations and other organizations, and is also making positive financial contributions to solving the world's refugee problems. Japan is the second largest contributor to UNHCR since 1979, and has provided refugee assistance worth about $850 million through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the World Food Program (WFP) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).



4.  Status of Women


(1)  On the basis of a recommendation adopted at the 31st session of the Commission on the Status of Women in February 1986, the 41st session of the United Nations General Assembly decided to convene specially a session of this Commission in January 1987. At this session of the Commission, the United Nations medium-term plans (1984-1989 and 1990-1995) and the system-wide medium-term plan for women and development were considered to integrate women's issues into United Nations activities, and a variety of recommendations were adopted on these matters. Recommendations seeking the annualization of the Commission on the Status of Women, an extended meeting of the Commission in 1990 and world women's conferences in the 1990s and the year 2000 were also adopted at the same session.

(2) In fiscal 1986, Japan contributed \68.7 million to the United Nations Development Fund for Women and $80,000 to the United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women.

(3) In December 1986, Japan hosted "the Regional Seminar on Development of a Women's Information Network for Asia and the Pacific" organized by the ESCAP.



5.  Population Problem


(1)  The United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), established in 1967 to extend assistance to developing countries in the field of population problems, has been undertaking family planning, basic data collection, and information and education activities.

(2)  Japan has been actively cooperating with UNFPA as its largest contributor of funds, making contributions of $45.93 million in fiscal 1986.



6.  United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)


(1)  The UNEP Governing Council did not meet in 1986 as a trial in a plan to switch to meetings in alternate years instead of every year. But the establishment of permanent representatives comprising government delegates from member countries ensured a continued strengthening of consultations with the Secretariat. UNEP also led the work on a protocol concerning controls of chlorofluorocarbons on the basis of the Convention on Protection of the Ozone Layer.

(2)  Japan contributed $4 million to the Environment Fund in fiscal 1986, remaining as the second largest annual contributor after the United States (accounting for about 14 percent of the contributions from all member states). Japan has been serving on the Governing Council since the establishment of UNEP, and was reelected at the United Nations General Assembly session in 1986.



7.  United Nations University


(1)  The United Nations University, headquartered in Japan, is carrying out research, training and knowledge dissemination activities on a broad range of problems facing the mankind through networks of collaborating universities and research institutions around the world, based on the Medium-Term Perspective (1982-1987) formulated in 1981.

(2)  The University's Council met in July and December to deliberate on its 1986-1987 supplementary budget. At the meeting in July, the Council decided to establish the "Ten-Year Evaluation Committee" to review the University's activities in the past 10 years. The Committee was officially set up in September, and after several meetings, plans to submit a report to the Council meeting in July 1987.

The Rector of the United Nations University submitted a draft of the second Medium-Term Perspective (1988-1993) to the Council's meeting in December, but the Council decided to continue consideration of it at its next meeting. The Council decided to establish the Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (INRA) in Yamoussoukro, the new capital of the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire, as the University's second research and training center after the World Institute for Development Economics Research (WIDER) in Helsinki, Finland.

(3)  As of March 5, 1987, Japan ($100 million), Finland, Britain and other countries have contributed about $149.3 million to the United Nations University Endowment Fund, which covers most of the institution's operational expenses.



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