Sectoral Analysis of the International Situation and Japan's Foreign Policy
Efforts toward the realization of a better global society
E. Protection of human rights and promotion of democratization
A number of UN conferences, the G8 Cologne Summit and many other fora have affirmed that the protection of human rights and the promotion of democratization are universal values shared by the international community, and that the realization of these remains an important issue. The strong relation between protection of human rights and conflict prevention, peace-building, development and a wide range of other areas has also been discussed. At the same time, the outbreak of regional and ethnic conflicts is leading to grave infringements of human rights. The growing importance of the United Nations' role as a neutral and global international organization for dealing with human rights violation in modern society is widely recognized.
A meeting of the UN Commission on Human Rights (CHR), held between March and April 1999, adopted a resolution concerning the human rights situation in Kosovo, and called for an early improvement of the situation. A Special Session of the CHR on the situation in East Timor was also held in September, adopting a resolution which included the establishment of an international commission of inquiry to examine human rights violation in East Timor. Japan abstained from voting on this resolution on the grounds that consensus was not reached on the draft resolution during the Special Session. Discussion was also deepened on reforming CHR mechanisms as a means of boosting CHR efficiency.
Japan has participated actively in UN discussion on human rights, and has also supported the activities of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Japan contributed around US$800,000 in 1999 to the various funds run by the OHCHR, including the Voluntary Fund for Advisory Service and Technical Assistance in the Field of Human Rights, established to support countries' efforts to improve their respective human rights situations.
In addition to stressing the role of the United Nations, Japan also believes that dealing with human rights issues requires a realistic approach which will lead to actual improvement in human rights situations, and has thus endeavored to achieve a balance between the three instruments of (1) dialogue, (2) cooperation, and (3) clear expressions of views (criticism). Concerning cooperation, Japan regards initiative taken by developing countries as vital in the long-term entrenchment of democracy and respect for human rights in these countries. From this perspective, based on the principle of partnership with developing countries, Japan has been supporting the development of legal, judicial and electoral systems, providing judicial and police training, and also cooperating in developing the foundations of civil society which underpin democratization.
In June, Japan concluded the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the Convention Against Torture), thereby completing its conclusion of all six main conventions on human rights.
In terms of efforts toward gender equality and advancement of women, Japan participated actively in deliberations and the adoption of resolutions in the follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women at the 43rd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, held in March. Japan is also active in supporting the women of the world through its contribution of roughly US$5.54 million in FY1999 to such funds as the Women in Development (WID) fund for the support of capacity-building for women in developing countries, the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the UNIFEM Trust Fund in Eliminating Violence Against Women, the latter established as a Japanese initiative, as well as the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW).
In addition, Japan has been making a contribution to the protection of children's rights, the promotion of child health care and education, and emergency aid, etc., through its participation in international fora such as the UN Commission on Human Rights and cooperation with UNICEF, to which Japan donated US$26.22 million (core fund only) in 1999.
Further, the Law for Punishing Acts Related to Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, and for Protecting Children was passed in May and entered into force in November. Information on this Law has since been passed on through Japan's diplomatic missions abroad to the governments of related countries and Japanese nationals resident abroad, in order to ask for their cooperation. In this way, Japan has been working to prevent the involvement of Japanese nationals in the sexual exploitation of children abroad.
As a member of the United Nations Commission for Social Development, Japan worked with other members at the 38th session in February 1999 regarding issues such as support for socially vulnerable people. On the domestic front, Japan also compiled the Report on the Implementation of the Results of the World Summit for Social Development (Assessment Report), drawing on the National Strategy of Japan for Social Development to the Year 2000 and Beyond, which was based on the Declaration and Program of Action issued by the World Summit for Social Development. Moreover, Japan attaches importance to social development assistance programs in ODA in such fields as medical care, public health and education, and the share of this area in bilateral ODA increased to 20.2% in 1998, compared to 12.3% in 1991.
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