Social Protection

Social Protection
▪ 2006

With medical costs skyrocketing and government programs scaled back, citizens bore more responsibility for their health care costs; irregular migration, human trafficking, and migrant smuggling posed challenges for governments; and the protection of human rights in the face of terrorism and efforts to prevent it remained at the forefront of social protection policies in 2005.

Benefits and Programs

North America.
      Social protection programs were in the spotlight in the United States in 2005 as Pres. George W. Bush stumped for a ground-breaking change in Social Security, the nation geared up for the biggest, most expensive expansion of Medicare ever, and Congress considered controversial cutbacks in spending on several programs for the poor.

      President Bush's number one domestic priority was a plan that would let younger workers divert part of their payroll taxes into private individual retirement accounts that they could decide how to invest. He spearheaded an intensive 60-day, 60-city campaign to sell the idea, and versions of the proposal were introduced in Congress. However, when public opinion remained cool to the change and Congress became engulfed by issues stemming from Hurricane Katrina and Supreme Court nominations, Social Security reform slid to the back burner, its fate uncertain.

      Advocates of the private accounts argued that they would produce higher returns for workers and give them greater control over their money. Critics contended that workers' retirement nest eggs would be left to the vagaries of the stock market and that siphoning off part of payroll taxes from the Social Security trust fund would hasten the system's looming financial troubles. Officials estimated that Social Security would start paying out more in benefits than it collected in taxes in 2017 (a year sooner than they had projected in 2004) and would have to start dipping into reserves at that time. They said that the reserves would be exhausted around 2041, at which time retirees would receive only about 74% of scheduled benefits.

      Established in 1935 as part of Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, Social Security became the largest segment of the American social safety net, one in which current workers financed the benefits of retirees with a 6.2% tax on their earnings (up to a maximum wage of $94,200 in 2006); their payment was matched by employers. With workers far outnumbering retirees, taxes had exceeded payments, and the excesses went into the Social Security Trust Funds. As the huge baby-boom population reached retirement age, however, the present three-to-one ratio of workers to retirees would shrink to two-to-one. The aging, longer-lived population was cited as the chief cause of future financial problems.

      Social Security benefits represented the sole source of income for about one-fifth of the 52 million recipients and at least half the income for another 45%. Beneficiaries would receive a 4.1% cost-of-living increase for 2006, the largest since 1990, bringing the average payment for a retired worker to just over $1,000 a month.

      As historic change was debated for Social Security, it was being implemented in its partner program, Medicare, which provided health insurance for 41 million elderly and disabled persons. In 2003 Congress passed legislation that added prescription-drug coverage to Medicare, starting Jan. 1, 2006. Ten large private insurers were chosen to market drug coverage nationwide, and several more were selected to sell it regionally. The insurance plans, which were subsidized and regulated by Medicare, would offer a variety of options, each covering different drugs and carrying different co-payments and benefits. Though participation in the new program was voluntary, 28 million to 30 million people were expected to sign up.

      While most of the costs would be paid by the government, seniors would pay premiums, co-payments, and deductibles. The average premium was estimated to be $32 a month, with some plans costing as little as $20 a month and additional subsidies available for low-income enrollees. Most participants would pay a $250 deductible, 25% of drug costs from $251 to $2,250, then all of the next $2,850 in charges. After the total tab reached $5,100, individuals would pay only 5% of charges beyond that. In addition to payments for drug coverage, the Medicare premium for doctors and outpatient care was slated to rise in 2006 by 13%, to $88.50 a month, reflecting a large increase in the use of doctors' services.

      Prescription-drug coverage, the cost of which was estimated to top $700 billion dollars over the next 10 years, put additional pressure on a system that already faced daunting fiscal problems because of demographic factors and runaway health care costs. Medicare's hospital insurance fund had started paying out more than it collected in 2004, and officials warned that it would run out of money in 2020, two decades earlier than Social Security, unless changes were made. The price tag for Medicare was projected to soar at a rate of 9% a year, compared with 5.6% for Social Security and 3.2% for general inflation; the cost of Medicare accounted for 15% of the federal budget in 2005 and by some estimates could reach 25% by 2020.

      Financing was also an issue for other social protection programs. With cost cutting required by the fiscal 2006 budget resolution and expenditures mounting in the wake of hurricane relief and the war in Iraq, Congress for the first time in nearly a decade targeted several programs for the needy. The most severe cuts were proposed in Medicaid, the health care program for the poor that was administered by states under guidelines set by Washington and whose costs were split between states and the federal government. Those costs had shot up over 60% in the past five years to more than $320 billion annually, and the program consumed more than $1 of every $5 spent by states, which made it the second largest item in many state budgets, behind education.

      Even as they acknowledged that their Medicaid operations were sometimes riddled with waste and abuse, state officials lobbied for greater latitude in managing the program and experimenting with new approaches, such as importing cheaper drugs from Canada and tightening regulations to prevent the elderly from transferring assets in order to qualify for nursing-home payments. The National Governors Association proposed sweeping changes to cut costs, and the Bush administration set up a commission to find ways to slow Medicaid's rapid growth. One of the challenges reformers faced was reflected in a Census Bureau report showing that 45.8 million Americans, almost one in six, did not have health insurance. The number of uninsured increased by 4.5 million between 2001 and 2004, largely as a result of employers' reducing their coverage.

      States also moved to fill the gap when Congress continued to balk at raising the federal minimum wage, which had been $5.15 an hour since 1997. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia set their own minimums at higher levels, ranging up to $7.35 an hour.

      For the third straight year, Congress failed to reauthorize the 1996 welfare-reform act, which had replaced cash assistance to needy families with block grants to states and new work requirements. Lawmakers passed a series of temporary extensions as the House and Senate tried to reach compromises on Republican demands for greater work requirements and the call by Democrats for more money for child care. Although welfare rolls were down sharply since passage of the 1996 law, the Census Bureau reported that poverty in the United States rose from 12.5% in 2003 to 12.7% in 2004, the fourth year in a row that an increase had been registered.

      In Canada a landmark ruling by the Supreme Court left the country's heralded national public health care system in a state of limbo and challenged some long-held ideas about health care delivery. The high court struck down a Quebec law banning private health insurance. Although the ruling applied only to Quebec province and the impact elsewhere was unclear, some observers speculated that it could presage fundamental changes in the universal health care system, which provided mostly free, tax-funded medical care and inexpensive drugs for everyone.

      The one-tier system generally was a point of pride for Canadians, but in recent years it had been marred by reports of a shortage of doctors and long waiting periods for diagnostic tests and elective surgery. The case that led to the ruling was brought by a physician and one of his patients, who had waited a year for hip-replacement surgery. In its 4–3 decision, the court majority said that “access to a waiting list is not access to health care” and that “delays in the public system are widespread and have serious, sometimes grave, consequences.” They ruled that banning private insurance in cases in which the public system failed to provide reasonable service violated the provincial charter's protection of life and personal security.

      The decision triggered a broad new debate over strategies to cure Canada's ailing $130 billion health-delivery system. On one side were those who feared that it would open the door for a hybrid two-tier health-delivery system in which the wealthy would get one level of care and the less affluent another. They also worried that some doctors would drop out of the public system and set up private clinics. Others argued that the present system needed to be improved and suggested that Canada consider moving in the direction of European countries that allowed private health insurance to cover the same benefits as public insurance.

David M. Mazie

Emerging and Less-Developed Countries.
      China merged its basic-subsistence guarantee system for workers laid off in state-owned enterprises with unemployment insurance. In July Pakistan launched a voluntary pension system in which individual retirement accounts would be managed by asset-management and life-insurance companies. Any Pakistani national over the age of 18 who had a national tax number and was not a member of an occupational pension scheme was allowed to open an account.

      Azerbaijan increased pension levels and more than doubled the lump sum payable upon childbirth. Under the state pension system, Kazakhstan added a new basic payment to all retired citizens regardless of their current level of benefits. This was a step toward a three-pillar pension system that would include a basic pension, individual retirement accounts, and voluntary or occupational insurance. Kazakhstan also embarked on a reform of its health care, for which initial emphasis was placed on primary medical care.

      Countries in Africa made efforts to provide better benefits and services and launch structural reform. South Africa increased the maximum amounts of various social grants for people with low incomes. Lesotho introduced universal old-age pensions, mirroring regional developments. Uganda's National Social Security Fund implemented a new electronic database that made it easier to reach beneficiaries and identify employers with unpaid contributions. Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, and Mali all had ongoing reform discussions pertaining to health care and/or pensions.

      In Latin America the four members (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay) of the regional common market Mercosur concluded a multilateral social security agreement that was expected to affect 2.1 million workers. The accord would allow companies and their employees on assignment within the zone to contribute only to the social programs of their home country. Chile enacted legislation to regulate private health care institutions. Among the measures included were the standardization of price variations and prohibition of the arbitrary termination of contracts. Proposed social security reforms that included using up to 25% of the Social Security Fund's reserves for national development projects were greeted in Panama by protests and strikes; the reforms would have made the access to benefits more difficult and increased contributions for both employees and employers.

Christiane Kuptsch

Human Rights
      Terrorism and efforts to prevent it remained at the forefront of many of the most significant human rights developments in 2005. With the threat posed by major new attacks in Indonesia, Great Britain, Egypt, India, and Iraq, many countries adopted stronger measures to monitor potential threats and to provide new and more expedited methods of punishment and prevention. Many of these measures, however, involved serious erosions of well-established human rights protections, such as freedom of speech, freedom from arbitrary arrest and from long-term, indefinite detention, and the absolute prohibition against torture or involvement in sending anyone to a situation of torture in another country.

      The expanding recognition that human rights should encompass economic and social factors as well as the more traditional political and civil rights protections was demonstrated by the increasing attention being paid to the threat of famine in major portions of Africa, health needs (particularly those related to AIDS and HIV) in less-developed countries (LDCs), and the substantial human needs created by an unusually harsh series of natural disasters associated with the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean and such 2005 events as the widespread flooding that Hurricane Katrina caused in the U.S Gulf Coast, the Guatemala mud slides triggered by Hurricane Stan, and the October earthquake in the Kashmir region of the Indian subcontinent.

      Statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of State for its annual report on terrorism to the Congress indicated that the number of serious international terrorist incidents more than tripled in 2004, with 651 reported attacks. Britain responded to the major bombings that took place in the London transport system on July 7 and 21, 2005, by passing laws that limited free-speech protections in situations that could be characterized as involving incitement to terrorism and by seeking the deportation of one prominent Islamic cleric accused of promoting attacks. The USA PATRIOT Act was renewed just days after the second wave of London bombings, providing U.S. law-enforcement agencies with broad powers to monitor private actions and to conduct emergency investigations in secrecy, including having access to library and bookstore records.

      Responding to these human rights restrictions, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that U.S. judges had jurisdiction to review the legality of the treatment of suspected terrorist detainees being held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, while a number of other courts grappled with challenges to the use of special military tribunals (rather than regular criminal courts) to prosecute suspected terrorists and with the practice of rendition to torture. In August the U.S. government announced that it was seeking to short circuit some of these legal challenges by repatriating many of the Guantánamo Bay detainees back to their home countries, where they would continue to be held in prisons constructed there with U.S. funding and assistance. Critics pointed out that this could well continue the practice in other countries of arbitrary, indefinite detention of suspected terrorists without judicial determination of their status and amounted to little more than another form of “extraordinary rendition.”

      The UN Human Rights Committee, which is responsible for monitoring national compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and recognizing the special importance of the human rights infringements taking place in connection with antiterrorism efforts, took the unprecedented step of notifying the U.S. government that it would examine these issues at its October session without waiting for submission of the U.S. government's periodic compliance report. The UN Committee Against Torture also scheduled hearings on torture-related issues involving the U.S. to take place in May 2006, after receiving the U.S. government's report on compliance under the Convention Against Torture as well as “shadow reports” from human rights nongovernmental groups that critiqued the U.S. submission.

      As an indicator that the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were taken seriously by the government, the U.S. military initiated court-martial prosecutions against nine lower-echelon soldiers implicated in the torture inflicted on detainees there in 2004. Former Abu Ghraib prison guard Lynndie England was convicted and sentenced in September to three years' imprisonment for her part in the abuse of prisoners in her care. The U.S. had yet to file criminal charges, however, against any of the higher-level officials whom many considered to have authorized or encouraged this type of conduct as an interrogation method. In June a prosecutor in Milan ordered the arrest and criminal prosecution of 13 CIA agents who had participated in the “extraordinary rendition” of an Egyptian cleric to Cairo, where, he claimed, he was beaten and tortured.

      On a more positive note, in March the U.S. Supreme Court abolished the use of the death penalty for juvenile offenders, successfully ending a long-standing effort to remove the U.S. from an increasingly shorter list of nations (now reduced to Iran, China, and Pakistan) that still permitted juvenile executions. Prior to the ruling, 19 states still allowed juvenile executions, though since 1976 only 6 had used the practice.

Genocide in The Sudan.
      The campaign of genocide against the black African (non-Arab) population in Darfur remained a major problem in The Sudan, despite efforts by individual countries (including the U.S.) and the international community to put pressure on the government to bring an end to the assaults. A British parliamentary report estimated that in the two-year conflict 300,000 persons had died, half of them by execution and half through disease and malnutrition. The UN estimated 180,000 deaths, with up to 1,800,000 more displaced as refugees, more than 200,000 of whom fled to neighbouring Chad. The killing continued despite the negotiation of a cease-fire in November 2004 and a promised end to attacks on towns in the Darfur region by the Janjawid paramilitary groups conducting the genocide, with help from government forces, and the arrival of a small (2,000-member) peacekeeping force sent by the African Union to help protect the cease-fire monitors. In October 18 members of the AU peacekeeping force were abducted and later released by the Janjawid, and the AU released a statement condemning the government's continued “acts of calculated and wanton destruction.” Juan Méndez, the UN special adviser on the prevention of genocide, found the situation “much more dangerous and worrisome” than he expected, with growing lawlessness. Two unprecedented attacks on refugee camps indicated an escalation of the violence.

      The violence in Darfur included the frequent use of rape as a method of intimidation and “ethnic cleansing.” Many women and girls were subjected to sexual abuse during the attacks or when they left their villages or refugee camps to obtain water, food, or firewood.

Promoting Accountability for Major Human Rights Abusers.
      The trial of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, along with seven of his high-level former officials, began in October. Charges against him included crimes against humanity associated with a series of summary executions and arbitrary detentions in the town of Dujayl, a Shiʿite village north of Baghdad; a 1988 aerial attack using chemical weapons on a Kurdish town; and the violent suppression of political demonstrations in 1991 in the Kurdish and Shiʿite communities. Saddam pleaded not guilty, but little progress was made in his trial due to several delays. After years of continued delay in commencing the prosecution of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, the former dictator of Chile, the Chilean Supreme Court in September voted 10–6 to confirm removal of his immunity and in December ruled that he was fit to stand trial, paving the way for a trial in a case involving the disappearance and execution of at least 119 political dissidents, whose bodies were found in 1975 in neighbouring Argentina. The trial of Slobodan Milosevic proceeded before the International Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia, though at a very slow pace. Progress was also plodding for the international tribunals created to deal with the problems in former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Cambodia, and East Timor.

      The International Criminal Court began work on its initial cases, including its investigation of genocide in Darfur. The ICC began to take action in three other pending cases involving the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Côte d'Ivoire, and abuses by the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda. In the DRC case the ICC issued a protective order for witnesses involved in testifying in the closed proceedings.

Economic and Social Rights.
      The international community continued to place greater emphasis on the economic and social rights aspects of human rights. At the Group of Eight Summit meeting held July 6–8 in Gleneagles, Scot., British Prime Minister Tony Blair took the leadership role, supported by a series of Live 8 rock concerts in cities around the globe, in seeking a substantial increase in economic support for the LDCs of Africa and progress in fighting AIDS/HIV and malaria. He obtained commitments from developed nations to double their financial aid to Africa to $50 billion by 2010, but he did not achieve all of the debt-relief and environmental-protection measures he had been seeking. According to the UN, at the beginning of 2005 there were 37.2 million adults and 2.2 million children living with HIV/AIDS, 95% of them in LDCs.

Morton Sklar

International Migration
      In 2005 there were nearly 200 million migrants worldwide, and although the overall percentage of migrants in the global population was low (2.9%), their social, economic, and political visibility was often very high. The demographic impact of migration, however, was felt disproportionately in the less-developed world; from 1990 to 2000 international migration accounted for 56% of the population growth in less-developed countries (LDCs), compared with 3% in developed countries.

      According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the global number of refugees fell by 4%, to 9.2 million, in 2004. That year there were about 676,400 asylum claims lodged globally, a decrease of 19% compared with 2003. In 38 industrialized countries the number of new asylum seekers fell in 2004 to its lowest level in 16 years, and the number of internally displaced persons remained stable at about 25 million worldwide.

General Policy Orientations.
      In 2005 the international discourse on migration strongly acknowledged the existence of close policy linkages between human mobility and other global issues such as employment, development, trade, security, human rights, and health. There were also increased calls for cross-disciplinary efforts aimed at improving levels of policy coherence in migration management at national, regional, and international levels.

      Countries and companies looked abroad increasingly for personnel to improve their competitiveness and to address shortages, especially at the higher skills level of labour markets. Though goods, capital, services, and information flowed freely across borders, the movement of labour was still closely managed. The largest established migration programs continued to be run by the traditional countries of origin. In 2004, 946,000 persons were granted permanent residence in the United States, 236,000 in Canada, and 149,000 in Australia. Elsewhere, policy experimentation continued, particularly in new immigration countries that had begun only recently to attract migrant workers.

      In Ireland a new Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service was created—a new “one stop shop”—for applications for entry into the country. In April 2005 the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform published a discussion paper that outlined policy proposals on a comprehensive Immigration and Residence Bill, and in June the Irish government announced that it would introduce a new employment permits bill that would give migrant workers greater protection in the workplace. Italy introduced an innovative program that enabled the training and placement of personal-care workers from Sri Lanka. At the international level the Doha Development Round of World Trade Organization talks devoted significant attention to the temporary movement of persons across borders as suppliers of services pursuant to Mode 4 of the General Agreement on Trade in Services.

      The link between migration and development remained the subject of much research and policy debate. Migrants injected more than $230 billion into the global economy through remittances that they sent back to their countries of origin. LDCs received $167 billion, or more than twice the level of official development aid offered worldwide. Remittances sent through informal channels could boost that figure by at least 50%. Though the countries receiving the most in recorded remittances were India ($21.7 billion), China ($21.3 billion), Mexico ($18.1 billion), France ($12.7 billion), and the Philippines ($11.6 billion), remittance flows had the greatest economic impact on small economies, such as those of Tonga, Lesotho, and Haiti, where remittances accounted for at least 25% of each country's GDP.

      Irregular migration, human trafficking, and migrant smuggling continued to challenge the ability of countries to regulate the entry and stay of migrants. This was demonstrated most dramatically in October by the highly publicized attempts of several hundred irregular migrants to cross from Morocco into the tiny Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. In the ensuing rush, several persons died, and the Moroccan government later introduced deportation programs. Global figures were difficult to compile, but it was estimated that between 2.5 million and 4 million migrants crossed international borders annually without authorization, including 600,000–800,000 trafficked men, women, and children. It was believed that the U.S. hosted some 10 million migrants with irregular status and that the number in Europe was about 5 million. At year's end more than 90 countries had ratified or acceded to the Trafficking Protocol to the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, and many others were taking concrete steps to tackle the problem. Biometric technologies, including fingerprinting, iris scanning, and facial imaging, were used more widely to control entry.

      The human rights of migrants remained an issue of great concern for governments and migrants. The committee tasked with monitoring the implementation of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families continued its work with the current 34 countries party to the convention. A draft of the International Labour Organization Multilateral Framework on Labour Migration was finalized at an experts' meeting convened by the ILO in November and would be submitted to the ILO governing body in early 2006.

      While migration in itself did not constitute a health risk, a number of large-scale humanitarian disasters, both natural and man-made, showed that conditions surrounding forced migration could have serious adverse health effects. Physical injuries were obviously of immediate concern, but malnutrition, lack of shelter, and a general breakdown of community infrastructures required long-term and expensive responses. The continuing spread of HIV/AIDS and the appearance of new infectious diseases, particularly the avian influenza, were reminders of the interdependencies between population mobility and health and the need for effective preventive action. Another quite distinct and much-debated health-related policy issue surrounded the migration of skilled health personnel from LDCs to developed countries, which resulted in the depletion of health care resources in the LDCs.

Regional Developments.
      Following the European Union's adoption in 2004 of The Hague Programme, the EU continued its efforts to forge an agreement on a common asylum and immigration policy for its 25 member states. The particulars included a special emphasis on the development of partnerships with countries of origin and transit, the establishment of a European agency (Frontex) for coordination of national-level operations at the external borders of the enlarged EU, and the issuance by the European Commission of a Green Paper on economic migration. Though the latter did not provide specific policy prescriptions, it did discuss future labour-market needs in light of Europe's changing demographic profile. Given the continued relevance of the issue of transit migration from the Maghrib to the EU, the 5+5 Dialogue on Migration in the Western Mediterranean remained an important platform for informal dialogue, exchange of information, and analysis of migration-related topics in the region.

      The 10th Meeting of the Regional Conference on Migration, held in Vancouver, highlighted the importance of integration and citizenship policies through which the economic, social, and cultural aspirations of both migrants and host societies could be fulfilled. Following the December 2004 Cuzco Declaration, in which presidents of 12 South American countries announced the formation of the South American Community of Nations modeled after the EU, plans were developed for closer regional integration of migration policies. Similarly, the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras agreed to harmonize their national policies on key migration and integration issues.

      In Africa a number of regional economic communities worked toward the development of migration-management strategies and the inclusion of migration within broad economic-development strategies. The African Union's overarching Strategic Framework for a Migration Policy in Africa was reviewed at the 10th Ordinary Session of the Permanent Representatives' Committee in Sirte, Libya. If approved, the framework would be submitted for adoption at the AU's January 2006 Ordinary Session in Khartoum, Sudan.

      At the third Ministerial Consultations on Overseas Employment and Contractual Labour for Countries of Origin in Asia (previously the Asian Labour Ministerial Consultations), held in September in Bali, Indon., ministers and senior officials of countries of origin responsible for overseas employment were joined for the first time by their counterparts from destination countries, including many from the Gulf States and Europe. Participants identified strong common interests in the establishment of effective training programs for migrant workers, in the operation of fair recruitment procedures, and in the protection of migrant workers abroad. The earthquakes in South and Southeast Asia led to significant internal displacement and forced the international community to seek a better understanding of the migratory impacts of large-scale natural disasters.

The Global Dimension.
      Three groundbreaking policy reports on the global dimensions of migration appeared in 2005. The International Organization for Migration's (IOM's) biennial World Migration Report addressed costs and benefits of international migration in broad social, economic, and political terms and, drawing on extensive research, outlined and assessed the range of available policy choices. The Global Commission on International Migration report, Migration in an Interconnected World, provided a comprehensive examination of the way states and other stakeholders were addressing the issue of international migration and put forward global principles for action and recommendations for enhanced interinstitutional cooperation. The World Bank's 2006 Global Economic Prospects report dwelled on the economic implications of remittances and migration, particularly how the application of appropriate policies could decrease the role of migrant-created capital in efforts to reduce poverty.

Gervais Appave

▪ 2005


Benefits and Programs

North America.
      In the politically charged atmosphere of a presidential election year, social protection policy generated an outpouring of words but a scarcity of action in the United States in 2004. The centre of attention was Medicare, the government program that helped 41 million elderly and disabled Americans pay their medical bills. At the end of 2003, Congress had enacted the most significant changes in Medicare since its inception, adding coverage of some prescription drug costs and moving to increase the role of private health plans.

      The new law was not scheduled to take full effect until 2006, but an interim scheme involving drug discount cards was implemented in mid-2004 to bridge the gap. (See Sidebar (Medicare's New Prescription-Drug Program ).) It proved to be a bridge over troubled waters. A dispute surfaced about the price tag of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003. Originally estimated at $400 billion for 10 years, the projected cost was increased to $534 billion in Pres. George W. Bush's budget and later bumped to $576 billion. Critics charged that the White House had deliberately misled Congress in order to get the measure passed. The administration insisted that costs were higher than first predicted because of medical cost inflation.

      A second controversial issue was the new law's provision of subsidies to private health care plans to encourage them to improve coverage and cut fees. President Bush, who favoured greater involvement by the private sector, said that this would give seniors more choice in their health care decisions. Democrats, however, charged it would be a giveaway to drug companies and private insurers and would siphon the healthiest beneficiaries into private plans, leaving Medicare with the sickest, most expensive patients. About one in 10 beneficiaries was in a private plan in 2004.

      Seniors covered by Medicare would be able to sign up for the new drug benefits during a six-month period starting Nov. 15, 2005. Those who already had drug coverage through employers, veterans benefits, and other sources could keep it if they chose but could not have both Medicare drug benefits and outside insurance that included drug coverage. When the drug-coverage program became fully implemented in January 2006, Medicare recipients who enrolled in it would pay a premium averaging $35 a month plus a $250 annual deductible. After that, they would pay 25% of their next $2,000 in prescription costs, then all of the following $2,850 in charges. Once the total tab reached $5,100, individuals would pay only 5% of charges beyond that. Low-income beneficiaries could receive additional subsidies to eliminate or reduce premiums and other costs.

      Adding fuel to the fight over Medicare's future was an announcement by the trustees who monitored the program that it would run out of money in 2019 if no changes were made. That was seven years earlier than the go-broke date projected in 2003. Soaring health care costs, along with the new drug benefits and increased costs of private health plans, were cited as reasons for the revised projection.

      The outlook was more positive for the other half of the safety net for seniors, Social Security. Trustees for that program said that Social Security would start paying out more than it received in payroll taxes in 2018 and would have to start dipping into its trust fund then, but the trustees estimated that the fund would not be exhausted until 2042.

      Social Security also sparked spirited debate in the presidential election campaign as President Bush repeated his call to let younger workers put part of their payroll taxes into private individual retirement accounts that could be invested in stocks and bonds. Democrats opposed that idea, arguing that it would drain assets from the Social Security trust fund.

      Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan warned that Social Security faced potentially serious problems as the baby-boom generation retired, leaving fewer workers to support retirees. Strategies suggested to combat this threat included raising the retirement age again, reducing the annual cost-of-living increase in benefits, and increasing wages subject to the payroll tax. In 2005 the maximum earnings subject to Social Security tax rose to $90,000, and the tax rate was 12.4%, shared equally by employer and employee. By law the retirement age to qualify for full benefits started rising in gradual steps in 2000 and would reach 67 in 2027 for persons born in 1960 or after.

      Another casualty of partisan fighting in Congress was reauthorization of the landmark 1996 welfare-reform act that changed the face of welfare in the U.S. Instead of guaranteed benefits for the needy, it imposed a five-year limit on cash grants, required participants to work at least 30 hours a week, and gave states greater control of lump-sum federal grants and more flexibility in creating and experimenting with programs. Since the overhaul was enacted, welfare rolls had declined from 12.2 million to 4.9 million. The 1996 law was due to expire at the end of September 2002, but because it had passed with bipartisan support, reauthorization seemed certain. When Republicans and Democrats were unable to agree on details, however, the law was kept in force by a series of short-term extensions. The White House and Republicans generally wanted to increase the work requirements, while Democrats were intent on boosting child-care payments. Congress's failure to reach a compromise created problems for several states where spending decisions on job training, child care, and other issues involving welfare recipients were thrown into limbo. A bipartisan group of governors asked Congress to act quickly on a permanent reauthorization so that states would know what resources they had to work with.

      No final action was taken on a number of other issues, including low-income housing, an increase in the minimum wage, and Bush's faith-based initiative that offered federal support to get religious organizations more involved in helping the needy. Meanwhile, the ranks of poor Americans and those without health insurance continued to grow. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of people living below the poverty line (an annual income of $18,660 for a family of two adults and two children) rose in 2003 for the third straight year, to 12.5% or 35.9 million, 12.9 million of whom were children. Explanations for the increase included a growth in single-parent families and the lack of good jobs. The number of Americans who did not have health insurance rose to 45 million, 15.6% of the population. Rising health care costs and a drop in the number of workers in employer-sponsored plans were cited as reasons for the increase.

      The government announced a 2.7% cost-of-living increase in Social Security benefits for 2005, boosting the average monthly payment for more than 47 million retired and disabled persons to $955 a month. The typical Medicare enrollee would have nearly half of the increase wiped out, however, by a 17.4% rise in Medicare premiums. The new premium for Medicare Part B, which covered doctors' services and outpatient care, jumped $11.60 to $78.20 a month, the largest increase ever in dollar terms. Social Security benefits were tied by law to the consumer price index, and Medicare premiums were adjusted to match soaring health care costs.

      In Canada, as in the U.S., publicly financed health care hogged the spotlight. Long waiting times for services, shortages of doctors and nurses, especially in rural areas, and the problems of an aging population made health care a key issue in the June 2004 federal election. The ruling Liberal Party supported national health care and the establishment of a child health program and promised to keep the system accessible to all.

      Since 1962 the Canadian national health system had covered all citizens with government-financed insurance that paid most medical expenses. At one time the federal government had provided about one-third of the money that the provinces spent on health care, but by 2002 Ottawa's share had been cut in half to about 16% of the total. A landmark report that year recommended increasing the federal share to 25%. In 2003 Canada had spent $121 billion on health care, 9.6% of GDP. Of that total, $85 billion came from governments and $36 billion from private sources.

      After the election Prime Minister Paul Martin held a three-day summit meeting with premiers from the provinces and territories to plan changes in the country's health policy. The federal government's original offer to boost its contribution was rejected by provincial leaders, who said their increased outlays for health care had cut into spending on education, roads, and other needs. Eventually, the political leaders reached an agreement. Martin promised about $41 billion more over 10 years, in return for which the provinces and territories pledged to make changes that would reduce waiting times for key services and to provide greater accountability on how the money would be spent. No final action was taken on the establishment of a national pharmacare program, but the conferees agreed to set up a task force to develop a national drug strategy by 2006.

David M. Mazie

      In 2004 Italy adopted a pension-reform law that made it harder to be eligible for a seniority pension (early retirement); tax incentives were also created for those who remained longer on the job. Belgium increased by about 25% the limits on earnings that retirees or survivors age 65 (63 for women) or older were allowed to make without a reduction in their social security pensions. After April 1 in Ireland there would be no compulsion for workers entering the public sector to retire at a particular age if they wished to remain employed. To encourage the hiring of older workers, workers' and employers' organizations in Finland agreed that the country should move away from assessing employers' contributions to TEL, the mandatory pensions system for most private-sector employees, in relation to the age composition of the enterprise. Beginning in 2007 there would be uniform contribution requirements under TEL regardless of the size of the firm or the age of employees. According to a Pension Sustainability Act that was passed by the German Bundesrat (upper house of parliament), all options for taking early retirement from age 60 would be gradually phased out starting in 2006 and abolished as of 2009. Workers in Germany would not be able to take early retirement before the age of 63. (See World Affairs: Germany .)

      An occupational pension bill that was introduced in the British House of Commons in February called for the establishment of the Pensions Regulator, a new public body to replace the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority, as well as a Pension Protection Fund for members of underfunded schemes or for those who were affected by employer insolvency.

      The Romanian parliament passed a law in June that provided for the establishment of individual retirement accounts, and beginning on January 1 in Lithuania, employees were able to allocate part of their social security contribution to a private pension. Following the introduction in Russia of funded social security plans, confusion arose when workers were not given information on how to choose a fund manager from among the more than 50 management companies that sought to participate in the program.

      On January 1 in The Netherlands, the benefit that employers were required to pay to sick workers —70% of covered earnings—doubled from 52 weeks to 104 weeks. In Sweden the government and the social partners (trade unions and employers' associations) agreed on measures that by 2008 would cut work absences related to sickness by 50%. Among other things, employers would be required to pay 15% of the cost of sick leave for employees who were ill for more than two weeks. The co-payment would not be applied if the employee returned to part-time work or worked under a rehabilitation program, and exceptions would be made for small enterprises. In the Czech Republic the employer had to pay the entire sickness benefit for the first two weeks, and in Slovakia the employer paid fully for the first 10 days; nevertheless, benefits were reduced substantially in these two countries.

      Health-reform measures in France included introduction of a “gatekeeper” into the system (requiring that before seeking a specialist, people would have to see a primary physician); penalties for doctors who issued too many sickness certificates; creation of electronic medical records that would show all consultations with medical professionals; introduction of a co-payment of €1 (about $1.25) on consultations, although this would be waived for low-income households; and encouragement of the use of generic drugs.

      Effective January 1 in Switzerland, each medical procedure—from simple consultations to complex surgery—would be recorded in the form of a specific number of points, with the value of a point varying from canton to canton. The changes also affected the occupational accident insurance program and led to an increase of 7% in accident insurance premiums. Switzerland also reformed its disability insurance with the fourth revision of the Federal Invalidity Insurance Act, which had four objectives: to consolidate the insurance's funding, to make targeted adjustments to benefits, to strengthen scrutiny by the federal government, and to simplify structures and procedures.

      The German government's plan to replace Unemployment Assistance in 2005 with a new benefit called Unemployment Benefit II triggered major public protests. The long-term unemployed would become eligible for Unemployment Benefit II after the expiration of their regular unemployment benefit. Unlike the regular insurance-based benefit, Unemployment Benefit II would be a welfare benefit in line with social assistance. Public debate centred on restrictive eligibility tests and pressure on the unemployed to accept job offers for which the compensation was below their previous salaries.

Industrialized Asia and the Pacific.
      The Australian Industrial Relations Commission confirmed an agreement between the Australian Confederation of Trade Unions and various employers' organizations that revised the minimum standards on severance pay for the first time in 20 years. A person whose employment was terminated after 10 years of service would have the right to 12 weeks of severance pay; previously that person would have received no more than a colleague terminated after only 4 years.

      Beginning in April, employees in New Zealand who were entitled to 5 days of sick leave annually were allowed to carry over up to 15 days of unused sick leave into the next 12-month period. In addition, more support was granted to people with children through the Working for Families package. The paid parental-leave period was extended from 12 to 14 weeks, and employers were required to keep the position open for those taking leave.

      In June the Japanese House of Representatives approved the implementation in stages of a Pension Reform Act, which included measures to increase contribution rates to the Employees' Pension Insurance and the National Pension system, to provide for the division of pension rights in the case of divorce, and to improve the information-access rights of insured persons. In view of its aging population, South Korea responded by increasing the legal retirement age of 55 to age 60 by 2008 and to age 65 by 2033 and revising the equal-employment law to prohibit age discrimination in employment.

      In Singapore the Parliamentary Committee for Health examined the introduction of a universal-health-insurance program to supplement the existing programs. The coverage would be limited to hospital treatment or day surgery, and deductibles and coinsurance provisions would be established. Singapore's Central Provident Fund (CPF) launched an Internet site to help members with basic investment decisions and to introduce a general program providing guidance on how to use CPF savings at different stages of life.

Emerging and Less-Developed Countries.
       Malaysia's Employees Provident Fund (EPF), covering most public- and private-sector employees, launched a service that permitted members to obtain information—such as options for withdrawing savings and the addresses of all EPF offices—via Short Messaging Service. Malaysia's central bank announced that it would allow the EPF and other financial institutions to invest up to 10% of their assets internationally.

      In September the Indonesian House of Representatives endorsed the creation of a national social security system with five separate insurance programs—for old-age pensions, old-age savings, national health insurance, work-injury insurance, and death benefits. The reform would be implemented in stages and would be largely financed by payroll taxes imposed on employers and workers; the government would subsidize the poorest.

       Thailand launched an unemployment insurance plan, and the social security office was allowed to collect its first contributions in January. With a view toward increasing labour mobility, the Thai Ministry of Finance allowed members of occupational provident funds who had terminated their employment with an employer before retirement to leave their accumulated capital with that employer for up to one year before transferring it to the scheme of another employer. Previously, they had to withdraw their savings immediately and suffer a tax penalty.

      For the first time, the Chinese government established a minimum monthly wage for full-time workers and a minimum hourly wage for part-time workers; different standards were permitted within a single province, municipality, or autonomous region. Employers who violated the regulations would have to provide compensation for back pay and could face administrative sanctions.

      India launched a pilot social security program to cover employees and self-employed persons in the informal economy. The voluntary scheme, which was introduced in 50 districts, provided hospitalization benefits and compensation for loss of earnings as well as old-age, disability, and survivor benefits.

      The Kenyan parliament discussed the legal framework for a national compulsory social health-insurance scheme with shared risk among different income groups, age groups, persons of different health status, and those residing in different geographic areas. The government would subsidize contributions of the poor with revenue from consumption taxes. Ghana too launched the idea of a universal health scheme and provided for the inclusion of employees in the informal economy. The Nigerian government introduced a pension-reform bill that would establish a new system of mandatory personal pensions while abolishing the social security fund and many private-sector retirement plans. The Algerian government gave a remittance to the National Fund of Unemployment Insurance to manage a business-creation scheme for unemployed people between the ages of 35 and 50.

      In Nicaragua the implementation of a 2000 law for privatizing social security appeared to be abandoned. Peru provided the new option to members of private funds to switch (back) to the publicly managed pension system. Previously, the switch could be made only in the other direction. The Chilean government announced that a reform of the 1981 private pension system was imperative.

Christiane Kuptsch

Human Rights
      The problems and issues associated with the threat of terrorism dominated many important aspects of human rights in 2004. There was an increased focus on establishing the responsibility of former heads of state (such as Saddam Hussein of Iraq, Augusto Pinochet Ugarte of Chile, Luis Echeverría Álvarez of Mexico, and Slobodan Milosevic of former Yugoslavia) for major human rights abuses; the implications of the torture and abuses by American soldiers against suspected terrorists in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the U.S. base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (see Military Affairs: Special Report (POWs and the Global War on Terrorism )); the decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague that the wall being built by Israel to protect against terrorists violated international law; and an expanding recognition of the economic and social rights aspects of the human rights equation.

      A dramatic increase in terrorism and in the fears generated by terrorist attacks affected human rights concerns more than any other single development in 2004. The increasing number and severity of terrorist attacks in the United States, Spain, Russia, Israel, and several other countries led to harsh repressive measures and major human rights challenges. Human rights impacts were especially severe for the United States, including the abuses of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison, the indefinite detention of suspected terrorists as “unlawful enemy combatants,” and the practice of “rendition to torture”—that is, sending alleged terrorists for interrogation in other nations that use harsh techniques, such as torture, not permitted in the U.S. The U.S. Supreme Court weighed in by ruling that indefinite detention violates domestic and international law and that the president does not have unfettered discretion to declare suspected terrorists—either U.S. citizens or prisoners captured during armed conflicts who remained in U.S. control—“unlawful enemy combatants” as a basis for denying them basic due-process rights. The Abu Ghraib scandal led to military courts martial for the seven soldiers who committed the abuses. Despite a number of reports that higher-level officials in the Departments of Justice and Defense had advocated and authorized the use of moderate forms of torture on suspected terrorist detainees in order to obtain information about their activities and plans, by year's end only those prison guards immediately involved in the abuses had been placed on trial.

      In a case challenging Israel's construction of a security barrier between that country and Palestinian territories through and around the West Bank, the ICJ held that portions of the wall that were built on Palestinian land violated the rights of the Palestinians, that it could not be justified by military or national security needs, and that it had to be dismantled. A similar judgment had been rendered only a week earlier by Israel's Supreme Court, which held that security needs had to be balanced against suffering caused to residents in the affected areas.

      At the same time, the threat that terrorism represented to one of the most basic human rights—the right to life—came to be more widely recognized, with terrorist bombings and shootings leaving an estimated 625 people murdered and 3,646 people injured worldwide in 2003. The number of significant incidents of terrorism reported was higher than at any other time since these types of statistics were first issued by the U.S. State Department in 1982. As a result, greater recognition had been given to the fact that private groups, not just governments, could be held responsible for acts of terrorism and other major human rights abuses under international and domestic law.

Anti-impunity Efforts.
      The effort to hold major human rights abusers responsible for their actions received considerable support in a number of states. The trial of Milosevic continued before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia; Milosevic opened his defense in a trial that had dragged on for more than two years. The Mexican government sought to charge Echeverría with murder in connection with a massacre of political protesters by security forces in 1971. A court in Chile ruled that Pinochet could not escape prosecution by virtue of an earlier grant of immunity by that country's legislature. Saddam was taken before a special tribunal established in Iraq to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity that took place during his regime. In addition, the International Criminal Court (ICC), the first body applying criminal sanctions to major human rights abuses on a worldwide basis, began operations. The ICC's first two cases were brought by Uganda in January and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in March.

      The progress in establishing criminal responsibility for major human rights abusers received a setback when a court in Indonesia overturned the convictions of several top officers who had been convicted of human rights abuses in breakaway East Timor (Timor-Leste). Progress was very slow in obtaining results from the new “hybrid” courts established in East Timor, Sierra Leone, and Cambodia to deal with past abuses by combining the international elements of the Yugoslavia and Rwanda tribunals and the ICC with domestic elements. The UN-backed East Timor court charged General Wiranto, one of the unsuccessful candidates in the 2004 Indonesian presidential elections, with crimes in connection with the execution of 1,500 people during demonstrations that accompanied East Timor's vote for independence in 1999. The U.S. continued its boycott of the ICC out of concern that its military and civilian personnel involved in military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere might be subjected to international prosecutions.

      Progress also was made in establishing the civil liability of major human rights abusers through civil damage awards to their victims. A U.S. judge ruled that a former captain in El Salvador's army could be held liable for the 1980 assassination of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, whose execution during a church service symbolized rampant death-squad activities by the military in El Salvador and other Latin American nations during that era. The Supreme Court affirmed the availability of these kinds of civil penalties in U.S. courts under the Alien Tort Claims Act and the Torture Victims Protection Act in the case of Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain. These claims were upheld in the face of challenges by the U.S. government, which sought to prevent U.S. courts from dealing with human rights abuses committed in foreign nations. Civil damages also were authorized as part of the penalties that could be imposed by the newly functioning ICC.

Genocide in The Sudan.
      After what many human rights observers viewed as too long a delay, the international community officially recognized that the campaign of repression, executions, rape, and forced relocations taking place in the Darfur region of The Sudan was of a sufficient scale to be designated genocide. The attacks were carried out by the Arab militia known as Janjawid with the approval and assistance of the Sudanese government. The situation was compounded in early November when Sudanese government troops invaded and shut down two refugee camps in southern Darfur, bulldozed the temporary shelters, and forced more than 5,000 displaced residents back to their villages, where they would again be vulnerable to attack by the Janjawid. Though an estimated 50,000 people in Darfur had been killed and 1.2 million others had been displaced and left homeless by year's end, strong sanctions had not yet been imposed against the Sudanese government.

New Emphasis on Economic and Social Rights.
      Additional attention was being paid to health care issues, such as HIV/AIDS, and to sex trafficking as human rights issues. An estimated 38 million people worldwide were suffering from HIV/AIDS in 2003, a substantial rise from previous years. As a result, increased pressures were placed on pharmaceutical manufacturers and developed nations to make less-expensive HIV/AIDS medications more readily available in less-developed countries (LDCs) by easing licensing and royalty restrictions. The World Health Organization reported in July that only 440,000 people infected with HIV/AIDS in LDCs were receiving life-extending drugs, a far smaller percentage than those in industrialized nations. Efforts were also made to bring attention to the threats that other diseases, such as tuberculosis and malaria, posed in LDCs. (See Health and Disease: Sidebar (In Sight: A World Without Polio ).)

      Another important development in the HIV/AIDS front was the release from prison in July of Jiang Yanyong, a retired army surgeon who had become China's most well-known political prisoner after his arrest and confinement on June 1. Jiang was imprisoned for blowing the whistle on government efforts to downplay the increasing number of AIDS cases in that country and organizing a campaign to alert the public to the disease. Jiang also added his voice to those critical of the Chinese government's military actions in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, confirming that his army hospital had treated “scores” of civilian protesters injured by the military's assaults during the crackdown.

      The problem of sex trafficking took centre stage with the release of a UN report estimating that “hundreds of thousands of child prostitutes” had been lured or forced into the sex trade in Asia alone, making them (and their sex partners) especially vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Morton Sklar

International Migration
      At the end of 2004, it was estimated that there were some 185 million migrants worldwide, half of whom were women. In 2004 developed states accounted for 60% of global migrant stocks, compared with 43% in 1970. As a result, migration had become an important source of demographic renewal in many industrialized countries where populations were aging and birth rates were below replacement level. In Europe net migration in 2003 accounted for more than four-fifths of the continent's total population growth.

      At the end of 2003, the number of “persons of concern” to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was approximately 17.1 million, which reflected a significant decline (18%) since 2002. This included 7.4 million asylum seekers, returned refugees, and certain internally displaced persons, as well as 9.7 million refugees, down from 10.6 million refugees in 2002. Sharp declines (22%) in asylum applications lodged in 30 industrialized countries were recorded in the first two quarters of 2004 compared with the same period in 2003.

General Trends.
      An important trend in contemporary mobility was the increasing number of people moving for employment to a country other than their own, especially on a temporary basis. More than half of all migrants worldwide were labour migrants. In developed countries a rapid decline in population as well as an aging population made foreign-labour recruitment of increasing interest to many countries. Regional and global economic integration as well as high demand for highly skilled labour in knowledge-based economies were also important factors. Many countries, notably Germany and South Korea, introduced new policies to facilitate foreign-labour recruitment. For the first time, Beijing implemented a “green card” program for foreigners to work and join family members in China. In less-developed countries (LDCs), on the other hand, population growth coupled with high rates of unemployment and underemployment continued to prompt governments to seek opportunities for their nationals abroad. By late 2004 the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (in effect since July 1, 2003) had been ratified by 27 states, most of which were countries of origin for labour migrants.

      In an effort to attract highly skilled foreign students into their labour market, several countries—including Switzerland, Germany, Canada, and Australia—adopted measures to facilitate immigration procedures for students as well as entry for them into domestic labour markets following completion of their studies. As a result, dramatic increases in student mobility were registered in most industrialized countries. In Europe the largest increases were in the admissions of students from LDCs. The inflow of foreign student workers in Japan increased from 10,428 in 1983 to 109,508 in 2003, mostly from other Asian countries. In Australia more than half of all visas issued under the Skilled Migration program went directly to foreign students graduating from Australian universities.

      Reflecting the growth in global labour migration, migrant remittances continued to rise. In 2003 global remittance flows to LDCs totaled an estimated $93 billion through official channels alone. This figure exceeded by almost one-third the amount ($68.5 billion) that industrialized countries had spent that year on assistance to LDCs. Remittance flows were expected to reach $100 billion in 2004. Latin America received $38 billion in remittances in 2003, exceeding foreign direct investment and development-assistance flows combined.

      Irregular migration continued to pose major challenges and focused increased attention on border and internal controls. Security concerns relating to international terrorism fueled this trend, especially after the March 2004 terrorist bombings in Madrid. In the U.S. there were an estimated nine million irregular migrants, at least half of whom were of Mexican origin. Though the U.S. government was considering a temporary workers' program, one had not been established by year's end. In Europe, where irregular migration figured prominently on both national and EU policy agendas, several countries, including Germany and Italy, made renewed calls to set up migrant processing centres outside Europe.

      Revised figures on trafficking in persons released by the U.S. Department of State in June indicated that between 600,000 and 800,000 persons were being trafficked annually across international borders. A significant proportion of them were women and children trafficked for sexual exploitation. The two protocols (on trafficking and smuggling) to the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime entered into force in December 2003 and January 2004, respectively. In April 2004 the UN Commission on Human Rights appointed a special rapporteur to focus on trafficking in persons.

Migration and Development.
      Given the increased awareness of the benefits migration could bring to countries of origin and destination alike, many agencies and governments called for improved integration of migration in national- and international-development frameworks. Specifically, there was greater attention to the question of how migration could be managed to maximize its contribution to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)—to eradicate world poverty and promote sustainable development—agreed to by 188 heads of state at the 2000 Millennium Summit.

      On June 29, 2004, the U.K. House of Commons International Development Committee issued a landmark report on migration and development that called for concerted efforts to achieve policy coherence. In the first annual report on progress toward achieving the MDGs, the World Bank and the IMF reached the same conclusion.

Regional Orientations.
      The region that remained the most advanced in the development of harmonized approaches to migration policy and legislation was the EU. Under the successive six-month Irish and Dutch EU presidencies, the development of common policies in these areas remained a priority. The European Commission issued its assessment of the achievements of the Tampere I agenda, which had been forged in Finland five years earlier for the creation of an EU area of freedom, security, and justice. At the November 4–5 European Council, the EU's new five-year program, known as the Hague Programme, which dealt with all policy aspects in this area, was adopted. Although many feared that the joining of 10 new countries to the EU on May 1 would create a potential flood of low-cost labour from the “East” and overwhelm national labour markets, the initial migratory impact of enlargement on existing EU members was less dramatic than had been feared.

      The temporary movement of unskilled and semiskilled labour in Asia was the predominant trend there. Several countries faced increasing pressures to import labour, in part because of population decline and expanding markets, while others remained major exporters of labour within the region and farther afield. In September in Manila at the Second Asian Ministerial Consultations on Labour Migration, the prime objective was to improve the management of labour migration flows from and within the region. Interstate cooperation in the area of countertrafficking and irregular migration had intensified. Several events held under the auspices of the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime led to greater cooperation between participating countries. Migration and health also became a priority in the wake of the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) epidemic in 2003 and increased concerns in 2004 over the possibility of transmission of bird flu to humans.

      In Africa the principal migration concerns included conflict-induced displacement, both internal and across international borders, migration and health issues (particularly in relation to HIV/AIDS), and the enhancement of the development potential of migration while minimizing negative consequences such as “brain drain.” In March the African Union (AU), in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and other international agencies, drafted a comprehensive strategic framework for a policy of migration in Africa to be considered for adoption by the AU in 2005.

      The May 2004 EU–Latin America and the Caribbean Guadalajara Summit in Mexico brought together 70 governments to discuss benefits and challenges of migration, remittances, brain drain, and irregular migration (particularly the trafficking and smuggling of humans).

      At the third Ministerial Meeting on Migration in the Western Mediterranean (5+5 Dialogue) held in September in Algiers, participants worked on cooperative approaches to migration management. Particular attention was given to the issue of transit migration in the Maghreb, which had become a key transit area for irregular migrants trying to reach Europe.

Global Dimension.
      In 2004, IOM's International Dialogue on Migration explored the theme of Valuing Migration, to highlight the costs, benefits, opportunities, and challenges of migration today and in the future. Two jointly sponsored conferences were held. The first, on migration and trade (with the WTO and World Bank), looked at the temporary movement of persons across borders to provide services, and the second, on migration and health (with WHO and CDC), explored the health implications of a mobile world.

      During 2004, Switzerland, in partnership with IOM, convened four regional consultations of the Berne Initiative in Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Americas to enable governments from around the world to contribute directly to the development of a migration-management resource—the International Agenda for Migration Management. On December 16–17 the Swiss government held a conference in Berne with more than 100 participating states to review the results of the regional consultations and explore the next steps in the Berne Initiative process.

      On Dec. 9, 2003, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan launched the Global Commission on International Migration (GCIM), an independent body established with the backing of Sweden and Switzerland and a core group of states from developed countries and LDCs. The mandate of the GCIM was threefold: to place international migration on the global agenda, to analyze gaps in current approaches to migration and examine interlinkages to other policy areas, and to present recommendations to the UN secretary-general and other stakeholders.

      In June, at the 92nd Conference of the International Labour Organization, the ILO was charged with the development of a nonbinding multilateral framework for a rights-based approach to labour migration, to be completed by November 2005.

Gervais Appave

▪ 2004

A final version of Medicare was passed in the U.S. Congress, the number of world refugees diminished, and antiterrorism measures brought continued concerns about American civil liberties.

Benefits and Programs

North America.
      A historic overhaul of Medicare, the health insurance program for 40 million elderly and disabled Americans, was the highlight of social protection activity in the United States in 2003. At the heart of the massive reform, which the government estimated would cost $400 billion over 10 years, were the addition of prescription-drug benefits, a step that had broad bipartisan support, and a much more controversial movement toward a larger role for private health plans.

      Starting in 2006, Medicare recipients would be able to obtain federally subsidized prescription drugs by buying a new type of insurance policy or joining a private health plan, with premiums averaging $35 a month plus a $250 yearly deductible. Medicare would cover 75% of drug costs from $251 to $2,250, after which nothing was covered until a person had spent a total of $3,600 out of pocket. From that point on, the government would pay 95% of prescription costs. Low-income beneficiaries would receive additional subsidies to eliminate or reduce premiums and other costs. Until the new benefits went into effect, Medicare recipients would be able to buy a discount card that would reduce prescription costs by an estimated 15%.

      Although prescription-drug benefits had widespread support, Democrats and Republicans disagreed vehemently over that part of the legislation that addressed the relationship between government-run Medicare and private health plans. The new law would provide subsidies to private health plans and, starting in 2010, set up a six-year trial program under which traditional Medicare would engage in direct price competition against private health plans in six metropolitan areas. Proponents of greater emphasis on the private sector, including Pres. George W. Bush, argued that this would produce needed cost savings, while foes said it would lead to the end of Medicare as it had been known since its inception in 1965.

      In addition to the two major provisions, the reform bill would provide increases in Medicare payments to hospitals, especially those in rural areas, and in fees paid to doctors, and it would offer subsidies to employers to discourage them from dropping drug coverage for their retirees once the new federal benefits became available. The legislation also would offer tax incentives to encourage people to set up health-related savings accounts and for the first time would require wealthier patients to pay more for outpatient care.

      While federal lawmakers debated Medicare, state governments struggled with Medicaid, the other vital thread in the U.S. health-care safety net. A joint federal-state program, Medicaid served 50 million poor beneficiaries. It was the fastest-growing item in most state budgets and accounted for about 15% of total state spending.

      The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured reported that financially strapped states slowed their spending on Medicaid for the first time in seven years. They cut benefits, tightened eligibility, increased co-payments, and reduced payments to physicians and hospitals in an effort to combat rising health costs and falling revenues. In the past, many states had allowed residents to take part in Medicaid even though they did not meet the strict federal eligibility rules. More recently, however, several states passed laws or obtained federal permission to disqualify hundreds of thousands of people living near the poverty level.

      The cutbacks came despite warnings from some health-policy experts that reductions would lead to large increases in the uninsured and would threaten progress that had been made in covering children. Critics noted a Census Bureau report that revealed that the number of Americans without health insurance rose to 43.6 million in 2002, 2.4 million people more than in 2001, an increase of 5.7%. A major reason cited for the increase was the continued decline in employer-sponsored health-insurance programs.

      Except for the hard-fought changes in Medicare, partisan disagreements stymied final action in Congress on most key pieces of social protection legislation. One of these was a reauthorization of the 1996 welfare-reform law that was supposed to have expired on Sept. 30, 2002. The landmark law replaced more than 60 years of guaranteed benefits with new work requirements and greater state control of lump-sum federal grants.

      The House of Representatives approved a reauthorization in 2002 and again in 2003, but when the Senate did not go along with that version, lawmakers passed a series of temporary extensions. The major disagreements concerned the number of hours recipients would be required to work and the amount that child-care payments should be increased to help offset the longer work schedules.

      The House bill, which had the backing of Pres. George W. Bush, would require that by 2008 welfare participants work 40 hours a week and states have at least 70% of their caseloads employed. The 1996 law required states to have half of their caseloads working at least 30 hours a week. The House also added a new program to promote marriage. The Senate's work requirements were not as stringent and left the door open to a greater increase in child-care support.

      The 1996 reform was credited with having helped cut welfare rolls in half, but some critics charged that those who left the program later joined the working poor and that the new law increased poverty and created new problems for children. Government studies supported both sides of the issue. A Census Bureau report showed that poverty in the United States was up in 2002 for the second straight year. According to the report, 34.6 million Americans—including 12.1 million children—lived in poverty at the end of the year, an increase of 1.7 million from 2001. The poverty rate was 12.1% in 2002, compared with 11.7% the previous year. The official poverty level varied with family size and the cost of living; in 2002 the level for a family of four was $18,244.

      On the other hand, a study financed by the National Institutes of Health found that poor children suffered no psychological damage when their mothers moved from welfare to work. Still another government report showed a marked shift in welfare spending since 1996 from assistance in the form of cash to aid in the form of child care, education, training, and other services intended to help poor people find and keep jobs.

      Also facing an uncertain fate in Congress was a watered-down version of Bush's faith-based initiative, which sought to provide federal support for an increase in the involvement of religious organizations in activities for the poor and disabled. The original sticking point in Bush's proposed plan was his insistence that religious groups be allowed to give preference in hiring to members of their own faith. After that provision was dropped, other disagreements arose, such as the need for offsets to pay for the legislation.

      Both the House and the Senate passed measures in 2003 that would provide additional tax breaks for charitable donations, although the Senate version scrubbed language that would have allowed groups to retain their religious nature while operating publicly funded social services. As the legislation languished in conference committee, Bush attempted to bypass Congress and jump-start the initiative by using his administrative power to establish regulations that made it easier for religious charities to receive federal money. Critics accused him of undermining the First Amendment separation of church and state.

      Reform of the financially shaky Social Security system was complicated by a deep partisan split over the Bush administration's effort to privatize the system by allowing workers to set up individual retirement accounts. Concern about the future of Social Security did not diminish, however, as the baby-boom generation's relentless march toward retirement threatened to overwhelm the system's finances. The Social Security Board of Trustees again warned that the program was not sustainable over the long term. It projected that tax revenues would fall below program costs in 2018 and that trust funds would be exhausted in 2042. The government announced that Social Security benefits would rise 2.1% in 2004, bringing the average payment for the 47 million beneficiaries to $922 a month.

      In Canada, as in the United States, government health care efforts stirred concern. Canada's highly touted national health care system, which provided insurance and paid most medical expenses for virtually all citizens, was jolted by reports of long waits for diagnosis and services and “line jumping” by wealthy and influential clients.

      According to a government study, 4.3 million Canadian adults, about 18% of those who went to a doctor in 200l, said that they had difficulty seeing the physician or getting tests or surgery done promptly. Several private studies reported that about 3 million persons could not find family physicians. Among the reasons cited for the long waits were overworked technology, a shortage of nurses and health care facilities, and an aging population.

      Since its inception in the 1960s, the Canadian health care system had been regarded as politically untouchable. It provided free health insurance at a cost of about $66 billion a year, one of the largest proportions of the total budget of any country.

      In another area, Canadian social-service ministers at all levels of government approved $935 million over five years for a national child-care scheme that would provide regulated early-learning and day-care programs. Jane Stewart, human resources development minister, called the action “the beginning of a very solid national day-care program for Canadians.” Provinces were to have the final say in how the money was spent.

David M. Mazie

      In an effort to lower administrative costs, Austria merged the pension insurance bodies for blue- and white-collar workers. Traditionally, different provisions such as those pertaining to eligibility criteria and benefit formulas had been applied to manual and nonmanual employees. These differences had been gradually diminished before the establishment in January of the new Pension Insurance Institute. Workers nationwide demonstrated against the government's proposed changes to the state pension system in separate one-day strikes in May and June. Later in June the legislature passed a modified form of the bill that included some concessions. The new law went into effect in August; it included a reduction in benefits and the creation of incentives to work beyond the normal retirement age. Those who did so would see their pensions enhanced by 4.2% annually, rather than 3%. Early-retirement provisions were scheduled to be abolished by 2017.

      France's pension reform, approved by Parliament in July, received as little public welcome as Austria's. The decision was made to lengthen progressively the period of contributions necessary to receive a full pension, in both the public and private sectors. In 2008 a full pension would be available only after 40 years of service. Pensions paid to those with less service would be reduced by 5% for each missing year.

      Early retirement was also identified as a problem elsewhere. In February the Italian Chamber of Deputies approved a pension-reform bill that would allow employees to work past age 65 with the consent of their employers. The reform proposal also included provisions that would tighten the eligibility criteria for the seniority pension. In April, when the governor of the Bank of Greece presented his annual report, he too called for an increase in the retirement age.

      In May the Danish Economic Council, consisting of economic experts and employer, trade union, and government representatives, released a report in which it recommended the abolition of the early-retirement scheme. The council also advised a reform of the unemployment system rules. The existing rules, whereby individuals aged 51 or older could collect unemployment benefits until age 60 (when they became eligible for early retirement), were no longer economically viable. Spain's Toledo Pact Commission, in charge of studying social security reform, agreed that employers should pay the full cost of early retirement if they used these provisions to achieve their restructuring objectives.

      Belgium enacted legislation that established a new regulatory framework for complementary (second-pillar) pensions. An occupational pension could be established voluntarily by a single employer or group of employers, or it could be negotiated as part of a collective agreement as a sector plan. Those plans that met specific “social” objectives would be given more favourable tax treatment.

      In January the insured of Latvia received the right to select a pension manager of their choice, with analysts expecting about 30% of the second-pillar pension assets eventually to be transferred from the state treasury to private management. In Russia requirements for managers of voluntary pension funds were announced. These funds had been operating for several years in a largely unregulated environment.

      The Czech Republic introduced legislation that regulated private pensions in line with European Union principles. To approach EU standards more closely, Romania introduced a new labour code with extended employee rights regarding nondiscrimination and employment protection.

      Germany debated major social reforms: health and long-term care, taxes, and pensions. As a result of lengthy all-party deliberations behind closed doors, a moderate consensus was found, but only in the area of health care. By 2004 a funeral allowance, eyeglass coverage for most adults, and expenses for travel to and from ambulatory treatment would be removed from the benefits package; co-payments would be increased and the principle established that a co-payment for all services was due. Noninsurance services such as maternity benefits would be financed through a higher tobacco tax.

      Rising health care costs also caused other European governments to work on reforms and adjustments. As of April, patients in the U.K. had to pay more for medicines and dental treatment when they turned to the National Health Service. The Swiss government announced the introduction in 2004 of a new schedule of deductibles. The standard franchise (amount payable before reimbursement) would be increased from 230 Swiss francs to 300 Swiss francs (U.S.$1 = 1.49 Swiss francs). Switzerland also made it possible for insured people to switch their health insurers without penalty, a move designed to increase competition.

      Poland reinstated a centralized approach to health care provision. Legislation that took effect in March abolished the 17 independent (essentially regional) sickness funds and replaced them with a single national health fund. The new law also established a schedule of increases in employee contribution rates for social security health care coverage.

      The EU worked on the simplification and modernization of Regulation 1408/71, which provided for the coordination of social security entitlements by those who moved between countries of the European Economic Area (EEA), plus Switzerland. A revised regulation, as proposed by the European Commission, would apply to all persons covered by social security legislation in a member state, including individuals who were not citizens of the EEA or Switzerland, and to people not gainfully employed. Preretirement benefits would come under coordination rules. More rights would be given to unemployed people, frontier workers, and the disabled.

Industrialized Asia and the Pacific.
      Concern was voiced in the Asia-Pacific region about the viability of social protection programs in aging societies. Australia's Investment and Financial Services Association, in regrouping superannuation (mandatory occupational pensions), investment management, and life-insurance companies, proposed four principles with the acronym SAVE to govern the reform of the retirement system: “simple and secure” (reforms should reduce complexity); “adequate” (reforms should provide incentives for voluntary savings so that retirees were able to maintain an acceptable lifestyle); “viable” (reforms should aim at workable solutions and avoid frequent legislative changes, which lowered trust in the system); and “equitable and efficient” (reforms should maintain generational equity and encourage competition, which would lead to greater efficiency).

      The South Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare announced austerity measures, stating that these were needed to save the social protection system from collapse. While the contribution rate (equally divided between employer and employee) would be increased gradually from the existing 9% to 15.9% by 2030, benefits would be lowered. The new benefit formula would provide a pension amounting to 55% of average salary in 2004 and 50% as of 2008—compared with the existing level of 60%.

      In Japan the idea of a cut in the normal pension benefit of 59% of final earnings was also circulated. Other proposals for the five-year reform of social security pensions included a change in the rules relating to the division of benefits after divorce and a provision that made it easier for part-timers to join the Employees' Pension Insurance.

      Hong Kong's Executive Council approved the introduction of a seven-year residency requirement that restricted entitlement to benefits under the Social Security Allowance and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance programs.

Emerging and Less-Developed Countries.
      The Chinese government announced in January that workers at state-run institutions could no longer count on employment for life. Some 1.3 million state-financed institutions would be encouraged to sign labour contracts with their employees, paving the way for possible terminations of employment. China's work-injury insurance was reorganized, with the State Council promulgating a decree that required all employers to contribute to workers' compensation funds established by local authorities. China also worked on introducing a health care system for the rural population. Only serious health problems would be covered; participation would be voluntary; and the scheme would be financed by contributions from insured persons, local governments, and the central government. The Indian government launched a new health insurance scheme open to everyone. Previous schemes had had membership restrictions. In July the Turkish parliament passed a social security reform law that gave administrative and financial autonomy to a new social security institution that would feature separate departments for pensions and health care.

      Namibia discussed the introduction of a mandatory pension scheme and the implications that it would have for the existing provident fund (a compulsory savings plan to which both employer and employee contributed and which, on termination of employment, provided the employee with a lump sum based on previous contributions) and pension schemes. In Kenya further measures were taken to transform the national provident fund into a social insurance scheme. An advisory group on social security reform in Uganda proposed to set up a system whereby retirement benefits would be provided through the existing National Social Security Fund and through new individual saving accounts managed by private entities.

      The pension-reform proposals made by the previous Argentine government were endorsed by the new one. In particular, the optional coverage in a private individual retirement account (AFJP) would be brought to an end; all employees would be covered by the state system and a supplementary personal pension account (AFP).

      The Peruvian Congress approved an increase in foreign investments that the administrators of AFPs would be allowed to make, from 10% to 20% of their assets. In Chile the ceiling for foreign investments by AFPs went up from 20% to 25%. Chile also offered better protection for workers upon termination. As of January, the government required employers to prove that pension, health care, and unemployment insurance payments had been made in full before they could lawfully terminate an employee.

Christiane Kuptsch

Human Rights
      Major human rights developments for the year 2003 included ongoing support for the principle of accountability for human rights abuses, growing demands by the less-developed world for recognition of the economic and social aspects of human rights, and the threats to civil liberties posed by antiterrorism measures in the United States and elsewhere. The awarding of the Nobel Prize for Peace to Shirin Ebadi of Iran gave a major boost to women's rights in particular and human rights in general throughout the Muslim world.

New Criminal Courts.
      A precedent had been set in 2002 with the establishment of the International Criminal Court to prosecute international crimes, including human rights abuses such as genocide and war crimes. Building on that precedent in 2003, additional criminal courts under United Nations auspices dealt with recent major crimes against humanity in Sierra Leone, Cambodia, and East Timor.

      The Special Criminal Court for Sierra Leone, along with its companion Truth and Reconciliation Commission, began to investigate those responsible for massive brutalities—including the killing and mutilation of thousands of civilians, widespread rape, the abduction of children for use as soldiers, and the destruction of countless villages—that were committed during the decade-long civil war there. Still in the investigation and indictment stage, the Special Criminal Court was just starting to have a noticeable impact. One of its most important acts was the indictment of Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia. Because he had supported and trained the insurgents who committed most of the atrocities, Taylor was charged with responsibility for many of the war crimes and crimes against humanity that took place in Sierra Leone. He also was accused of having engineered a similar campaign of atrocities in neighbouring Guinea. Despite the charges against him, Taylor remained at large in Nigeria; under an agreement with Nigerian Pres. Olusegun Obasanjo, Taylor relinquished office and left Liberia in exchange for amnesty from prosecution. Human rights advocates contended, however, that Taylor and others should eventually stand trial.

      In June, after years of negotiations, the United Nations signed a landmark agreement with Cambodia to set up special courts to try members of the former Khmer Rouge government, which was responsible for the so-called Killing Fields of the late 1970s, when the ultra-Maoist Pol Pot regime had carried out a campaign that resulted in the death by starvation or execution of nearly two million people.

      In August, 18 Indonesian military and civilian officials were tried by the Special Criminal Tribunal for the former East Timor. This tribunal included both international and local judges. Twelve of those indicted were acquitted, and four received minor sentences. The remaining two, Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri, the former military commander of East Timor (Timor-Leste) and the highest-ranking official indicted, and former East Timor governor Abilio Soares were charged with responsibility for a series of attacks on civilians—including mass murder, arson, and forced expulsions—committed by soldiers and paramilitary groups in 1999. Each was sentenced to three years in jail. The lenient sentences were criticized by the U.S. and others, as was the lack of an indictment against General Wiranto, who was chief of the Indonesian military when the atrocities took place. Fears of new atrocities in Indonesia grew with the crackdown on separatists in Aceh province. Indeed, Damiri missed several court appearances because he was directing military operations in Aceh, which was placed under martial law on May 19.

Human Rights Criminal Prosecutions Elsewhere.
      The International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia continued its groundbreaking work, but progress in the landmark prosecution of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic was especially slow. Milosevic, the first head of state to have been put on trial for crimes against humanity, insisted on representing himself without help of legal counsel, a circumstance that caused long delays in the trial.

      Argentina's Gen. Antonio Domingo Bussi, one of the most despised military commanders during that country's “Dirty War” of the 1970s and '80s, faced trial for crimes against humanity. His indictment was a result of the Argentine Congress's decision to repeal a pair of amnesty laws that had granted immunity to those who had executed (or “caused to disappear”) an estimated 30,000 political opponents. Bussi, who in 2003 was elected mayor of San Miguel de Tucumán, was believed responsible for at least 680 “disappearances” in Tucumán province alone.

      Elsewhere in Latin America, Chilean Pres. Ricardo Lagos proposed a package of laws that would allow broader prosecution of crimes committed by military and government officials and paramilitary groups during the 17-year military dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. In Peru a government-appointed Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued a landmark report documenting the execution of nearly 70,000 people during a 20-year struggle centred in Ayacucho province between the government and members of the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) insurgency. Most of the victims were indigenous people, descendants of the Incas.

Economic and Social Rights.
      In August, over the objection of major drug manufacturers, member governments of the World Trade Organization agreed to make it easier for poor countries to import generic drugs to treat diseases such as AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. The agreement allowed the export of patented products as generic drugs for use in those countries unable to make their own medicines and dependent on generic drugs to treat disease. By the terms of the agreement, the poorest nations would be allowed to import and distribute inexpensive lifesaving medicines from manufacturing countries such as India and Brazil without being considered in violation of trade laws that protect patent rights.

      In September more general international trade talks were held in Cancún, Mex. These talks were aimed at reducing trade barriers and domestic subsidies for agricultural products in developed nations, programs that made it difficult for poorer nations to export food crops to international markets. Talks broke down when it became apparent that the U.S., Europe, and Japan were unwilling to make sufficient cuts in farm subsidies. These efforts were part of a broader initiative to expand the existing understanding of human rights to include basic economic and social protections, such as health care, education, and the right to work. They were linked to a growing worldwide movement to help the poorest nations by canceling or reducing their debt payments to international lending institutions.

Terrorism and Civil Liberties.
      In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the U.S., efforts to prevent terrorism produced new threats to human rights in many nations. Antiterrorism laws in the U.S. and Canada resulted in the long-term detention of a large and increasing number of suspected terrorists, who were held without charges. At a military base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the U.S. held more than 600 prisoners captured during the Afghan and Iraq conflicts, and U.S. prisons contained some 1,200 resident aliens believed to have terrorist ties. The U.S. Department of Justice's inspector general found serious violations of law in the handling of detainees, including excessive use of force and ethnic discrimination.

      The U.S. government also was accused of “rendition to torture”—that is, sending suspected terrorists to third countries where they could be interrogated with the use of extreme measures that were not tolerated or permitted within the U.S. Another issue was the designation of some suspected terrorists as “enemy combatants.” This classification was a first step toward authorizing trial by military (rather than civilian) courts, where normal due process and constitutional protections would not apply. In the past the U.S. had condemned the use of military courts to try civilians in countries such as Greece and Turkey, but the government justified its decision by claiming that normal criminal court proceedings could result in a breach of security or give helpful information to those planning terrorist attacks. For this reason the government also decided to drop regular criminal charges against Zacarias Moussaoui in preference for a military trial. In civilian court Moussaoui, whom the government considered the 20th September 11 hijacker, had claimed the right to interview other suspected terrorists as part of his defense.

Women's Rights.
      The removal of the Taliban from power in November 2001 had given hope to Afghan women for the restoration of their rights to leave their homes, hold jobs, attend schools, and be free of oppressive dress codes—rights that had been denied them under the former regime. In 2001 the appointment to the Afghan cabinet of Sima Simar was offered as a sign that “women are free” in Afghanistan, but Afghan women and girls continued to suffer abuse, harassment, and repression at the hands of some of Afghanistan's post-Taliban leaders. They still were harried by religious police, and many restrictions remained. These continuing problems were underscored by the removal of Samar from office by extremists mere months after her appointment.

      In Katsina state in Muslim-controlled northern Nigeria, an appeals court revoked a sentence of stoning to death against Amina Lawal, a young mother convicted of adultery.

Repression in Myanmar.
      Myanmar on May 30 returned to centre stage in human rights concerns with the arrest and detention of Nobel Peace Prize winner and political opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and a number of her pro-democracy supporters, thus ending a fledgling agreement to move toward democratic reform.

Morton Sklar

International Migration
      One of the defining global issues of the early 21st century was migration. In 2003 some 175 million people resided outside their home countries. In other words, one of every 35 individuals in the world was a migrant. Migration to developed states made up about 40% of total migration flows. Europe hosted the most international migrants (56.1 million), followed by Asia (49.7 million), North America (40.8 million), Africa (16.2 million), and Oceania (5.8 million).

      At the end of 2002, the total number of “persons of concern” to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was approximately 20.6 million. This included 9.2 million asylum seekers, returned refugees, and certain internally displaced persons and 10.4 million refugees, down from 12 million in 2001 because of the return of nearly 2 million Afghans. The greatest numbers of refugees were in Asia (4.2 million), Africa (3.3 million), and Europe (2.1 million).

Asylum and Refugees.
      The distinction between voluntary and forced migration was sometimes difficult to discern. With the number of people on the move far outstripping the capacity of existing legal channels for migration—despite a ready market for labour—people who were not in need of protection sometimes used the asylum system. Although the public perception that governments had lost control of asylum provoked anger and sparked outbursts of racism and xenophobia, the necessity remained for some system of safeguarding those who genuinely were in need of protection.

      In June UNHCR launched its Convention Plus initiative regarding the status of refugees. The initiative focused on the development of multilateral agreements that would complement the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and ensure greater equity between states in the sharing of responsibilities for refugees, notably in the context of mass influxes, mixed migratory flows, and the development of durable solutions. The initiative promoted multilateral commitments that would make the international response to refugee crises more effective and reliable.

Migration Management.
      At the turn of the 21st century, public debate on this issue centred on irregular migration and on the migration and asylum nexus. In 2003 the discourse on migration broadened to encompass an increasing recognition that migration was an essential and inevitable component of the economic and social life of states and that managed migration could benefit both individuals and societies.

      One topic of expanding interest was the relationship between migration and development, especially the impact of migrant remittances on the economic development of countries of origin. According to the 2003 World Bank report on global development finance, officially recorded worker remittances to less-developed countries amounted to $72.3 billion in 2001, and they were estimated to have risen in 2003 to $90 billion. With the inclusion of transactions effected through informal channels, the total was far higher. In less-developed countries, remittances made up on average 1.3% of GDP, and the proportion was often much higher, as in Lesotho (26.5%), Nicaragua (16.2%), and Yemen (16.1%). From this perspective, migrants could be viewed as potential agents of development who strengthened cooperation between home and host countries through the transfer of skills and the development of transnational networks.

      Migration's potential impact on national economies became increasingly clear, especially as demographic trends in some developed countries suggested a rising demand for workers that could not be met internally. The concern of countries of origin over the treatment of their workers abroad helped produce the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, which came into force on July 1. It required states to adhere to human rights standards in their dealings with migrant workers.

      The relationship between migration and trade, especially the supply of services via the temporary movement of people across borders, emerged as a major issue in negotiations. The September World Trade Organization meetings in Cancún, Mex., attempted to liberalize trade in agriculture and services to ensure that “world trade works for developing countries.” Although barriers for goods were diminishing, most countries retained significant barriers to the movement of people for work.

The Regional Dimension.
      As individual states came to realize that their endeavours at the national level required multilateral efforts, cooperation on migration at the regional level assumed special importance. Local circumstances dictated the form of regional cooperation that was necessary. On all continents, regional consultative processes on migration were in place; in these, representatives of governments, international organizations, and, where possible, civil society shared information and experiences on migration issues of common concern.

      In Asia the rapid growth of a market-led intraregional migration pattern drew attention to the importance of managing labour migration and combating the trafficking in persons. In 2003 ministerial-level consultations for Asian labour-sending countries were held in Colombo, Sri Lanka. There common policy priorities were identified and avenues for cooperation mapped out. In April the second Regional Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime was held on the Indonesian island of Bali. Two groups established by the first conference (2002) had developed a framework to strengthen legislation and to improve regional cooperation in law enforcement, information, and intelligence exchange.

      In Africa the principal migration concerns included internal displacement caused by conflict, migration health matters (particularly those concerning HIV/AIDS), and the enhancement of development potential while minimizing “brain drain.” African countries increased their cooperative efforts to manage migration flows over national borders that often cut across ethnic communities. Consultative regional dialogues, such as the Migration Dialogue for Southern Africa (2000) and the Migration Dialogue for Western Africa, were established to strengthen regional cooperation. In September a Regional Conference on Arab Migration in a Globalized World was held in Cairo. It provided a forum for the discussion of migration issues, in particular the geographic mobility of human resources. Similarly, the Ministerial Conference on Migration in the Western Mediterranean (called the “5+5 Dialogue”) furthered an important exchange on migration issues between African and European countries in the western Mediterranean.

      In the European Union a major objective in this policy field was the creation of common EU legislation on migration and asylum. Irregular migration remained a major political issue. Although strong controls were in place, complementary measures, including the development of orderly labour migration channels, were necessary.

      According to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Commission, in 2000 some 15 million non-EU migrants lived among the 380 million residents of the 15 EU member states. This included 45% from the rest of Europe, 18% from North Africa, 17% from Asia, and 9% from sub-Saharan Africa. In 2002 some 587,000 foreigners worldwide applied for asylum, including 465,000 in Europe (381,600 in EU countries).

      Both the Greek and Italian presidencies of the EU put migration high on the agenda. At the June EU Council meeting in Thessaloniki, Greece, a proposal for more accessible, equitable, and managed asylum systems (including offshore transit centres and zones of protection) was introduced.

      Germany's green-card program for the admission and employment of foreigners, launched in August 2000, was extended until the end of 2004, and the 20,000-card limit was removed. EU leaders, including the British and Swedish prime ministers, called for the opening of EU nations to immigration.

      Migration patterns in Latin America and the Caribbean were changing significantly. Once of major concern, refugee movements had diminished considerably, and the focus had shifted to migration for work. Since the 1990s agreements and understandings such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Southern Cone Common Market agreement between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay had demonstrated the benefits of well-managed, safe, and orderly migration. Activities in the area included the regularization of irregular migrants and the harmonization of migration categories and visa policies.

      In 2002, according to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), remittances to Latin America rose by almost 18% (from 2001 levels) to $32 billion. This equaled roughly 32% of the $103 billion that the IDB estimated were remitted to less-developed countries worldwide (the IMF estimated remittances to less-developed countries at about $70 billion).

The Global Dimension.
      While there was no normative framework in the field of international migration, governments increasingly recognized the value of international cooperation. Three ongoing processes worked toward this end. The International Dialogue on Migration, launched in 2001 by the International Organization for Migration, encouraged exploration of the links between international migration and other sectors (such as trade, labour, development, and health) by bringing stakeholders together. The Berne Initiative, also launched in 2001, was a consultative process designed to stimulate an exchange of views and promote mutual understanding of different migration realities and stakes. An independent body, the Global Commission on International Migration, was expected to begin its work early in 2004. Its major objective was to raise awareness of the positive contributions of migrants to society.

Gervais Appave

▪ 2003


Benefits and Programs
      With economic downturn or crisis prevailing worldwide, concern was voiced in 2002 over the financial viability of social protection programs. Reform proposals and actual reforms were guided by this concern. Oftentimes simply increasing the responsibility of the programs' beneficiaries was regarded as a solution, especially if people were offered more flexibility and greater choice.

North America.
      Even as reports showed a rise in poverty in the United States, social welfare activity was generally pushed to the back burner by budgetary concerns, election-year politics, and the nation's overriding focus on terrorism and Iraq. The lack of action was most apparent in Congress in the area of welfare, where the landmark 1996 reform legislation was scheduled to expire on September 30. That overhaul had transformed the U.S. approach to financial aid for the poor, establishing time limits and work requirements for welfare recipients and giving states greater power to experiment with their own versions of assistance. In the period since 1996, welfare rolls in the United States had dropped by more than 50%, from 12.2 million to 5.3 million. A majority of lawmakers in both political parties viewed the reform as a success, and the year began with strong expectations that a new welfare law would be passed.

      Difficulties arose, however, when Congress got down to the details. Pres. George W. Bush, who made rewriting the welfare law a major part of his social agenda, outlined the administration's view with a proposal for more stringent work requirements, increased flexibility for states to design their own programs, and money for an experimental plan to promote marriage and encourage teenagers to abstain from sex.In May, on what was essentially a party-line vote, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives approved an extension bill much along the lines that Bush had requested. The battle then moved to the Senate, where Democrats came up with a much different version. One of the most significant points of conflict was over money for child care. President Bush did not propose any increase in the $2.7 billion states had been getting in block grants from Washington. The House bill increased grants by $1 billion over five years, compared with the Senate bill's $5.5 billion rise. Another sticking point was work requirements. The House measure increased the number of hours welfare recipients would have to work from 30 to 40 a week and said vocational training would not count as work. The Senate kept the current work requirement and added vocational training to the work category. In the 1996 overhaul of welfare, most legal immigrants were denied federal cash welfare benefits. The House voted to continue this ban, while the Senate gave states the option of restoring federal benefits to legal immigrants and extending health insurance benefits to some. After being approved by the Finance Committee, welfare legislation bogged down in the Senate when lawmakers and the White House could not hammer out a compromise. Backers of the Senate bill said it offered welfare recipients the best chance of becoming self-sufficient. President Bush complained that work requirements in the measure were weakened by loopholes. With the expiration date approaching and no agreement in sight, Congress voted to extend the 1996 law for three months, until December 31.

      Those who felt that Congress should increase spending on social programs for the needy pointed to a number of reports. The Census Bureau, for example, said that in 2001, for the first time in eight years, the number of people living in poverty in the U.S. had risen—to 32.9 million, including 11.7 million under the age of 18. That was a 1.3% increase over 2000 and meant that 11.7% of the population was by definition poor, compared with 11.3% the previous year. The greatest increases in poverty were found in the suburbs, the South, and among non-Hispanic whites.

      According to studies by the Center for Law and Social Policy, many of the people who had moved off welfare to work held low-paying jobs that did not provide health benefits. Another study found that the number of child-only welfare cases had increased and that there was a high rate of hunger and hardship among those children.

      Partisan political squabbling also undercut reform efforts for Medicare, although there was widespread agreement that change was needed to provide the 40 million recipients with some form of prescription-drug coverage, which Medicare had never included. During and after the 2000 election campaign, politicians from both parties had promised help with soaring drug costs. Ideological differences, however, undercut efforts to compromise. Republicans favoured a private-sector approach in which insurance companies would receive government subsidies and offer packages that could vary from region to region. Democrats wanted to provide uniform coverage through Medicare. Although about two-thirds of the elderly had some type of private insurance coverage for prescription drugs, the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health research group, said that the average Medicare beneficiary spent $928 on those drugs in 2001, and the figure was expected to rise to $1,051 in 2002.

      Failure to reach agreement on drug benefits jeopardized another piece of legislation in Congress involving Medicare—“provider givebacks.” These would give hospitals, doctors, and other health care providers more money for treating Medicare patients.Medicare suffered a further jolt when the trade association for the managed-care industry reported that health maintenance organizations (HMOs) serving 200,000 elderly and disabled persons would withdraw from Medicare in 2003. That increased the number of beneficiaries who had been dropped by HMOs to 2.5 million.

      Another of President Bush's social programs—his faith-based initiative—also languished in Congress. The plan would provide federal money to religious organizations so that they could get more involved in activities for the poor and disabled, such as homeless shelters, drug treatment, and other programs. The major stumbling block was the question of whether the religious groups would be allowed to give preference to members of their own faith in hiring. A bill passed by the House of Representatives in 2001 gave them leeway, but opponents argued that it violated church-state separation and could foster religious discrimination. What eventually emerged was a watered-down part of the original Bush plan that would allow a limited charitable tax deduction for people who did not itemize deductions on their returns.

      Although the future of Social Security had been a major concern for years, the sense of urgency diminished in 2002. Part of the reason for this was an announcement by the Social Security trustees that the program's financial outlook had improved. Instead of running out of money in 2038, as had been predicted in 2001, the trustees said that the date would be 2041 if no changes were made in the current law. The expected tipping point for Medicare was extended one year, from 2029 to 2030. The main reason for the brighter outlook, according to the trustees, was an expected increase in the productivity of American workers during the next 75 years. Nevertheless, Social Security still faced a substantial financial challenge because vast numbers of baby boomers would reach retirement age in the years between 2011 and 2029, putting new pressures on the system. Debate over Social Security continued to focus on President Bush's effort to allow workers to invest part of their payroll tax in private savings accounts that could be used to buy stocks. Proponents of the idea argued that it would generate greater earnings, but in the face of a reeling stock market, the plan appeared to lose steam.

      Outside Washington many states were forced to cut back their social protection services owing to steep drops in revenues, along with increases in unemployment and poverty. Especially hard hit was Medicaid, the federal-state health care program that covered 47 million poor and disabled persons. Medicaid costs had been growing at the rate of 13% a year, much faster than overall state spending. As a result, Medicaid accounted for one-fifth of the average state budget in 2002. A survey by the Washington Post found that all but nine states were taking, or planning, steps to hold down Medicaid spending, a turnaround after nearly a decade of increases in the U.S.'s largest public health insurance program. Cost-cutting strategies included dropping certain groups of patients, reducing some services, requiring patients to help pay for their own care, and limiting their access to high-priced drugs.

      In Canada a major concern during the year was the national health system. A Senate committee report revealed that the system needed a major overhaul that could require more than Can$3 billion (about $2 billion) in new funding. In addition, a report prepared for health ministers warned that the public-health infrastructure was so fragile that the system could be overwhelmed by a crisis such as local contamination of drinking water. Among the problems cited by the study were shortages of funds, staffing difficulties, political interference, and a lack of planning.

      Maclean's magazine, in its fourth annual ranking of health centres across the country, found that communities with medical schools led the way, while largely rural regions, which did not have easy access to the newest equipment and well-trained specialists, were generally at the bottom. Although Canadians spent Can$102.5 billion (about $67.5 billion) on public and private medical services, one-eighth of them said their health care needs had not been met in fiscal year 2000–01.

      European countries took various measures aimed at ensuring the long-term stability of their old-age schemes. In June Greese's Parliament enacted a pension reform that included a change in the benefit formula that, over time, would result in a reduction in the maximum retirement benefit from 80% to 70% of final average salary and to 60% for those who entered the labour market after 1993. The retirement age was also boosted from 60 to 65.

      In Spain the social security law was amended, effective retroactively from Jan. 1, 2002. Incentives were given to people to work past the age of 65—for example, they would receive their old-age pension in addition to their employment earnings. Finland also took measures to encourage people to work longer. A flexible retirement age—between age 62 and 68—would be introduced in 2005 as part of an agreement between the government, the pension institutions, and the social partners (employers' and workers' organizations). In addition, Finland's part-time pensions were made less attractive and starting in 2003 would be available only from age 58 instead of 56.

      The new French prime minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin (see Biographies (Raffarin, Jean-Pierre )), announced that the government would introduce tax incentives for retirement savings in 2003. In the fall Ireland began the approval process for providers of Personal Retirement Savings Accounts, which were intended to encourage more people to take out private pension coverage. In October the Swiss government announced a reduction in the guaranteed interest rate for mandatory occupational pensions from 4% to 3.25%, following pressure by the insurance industry, which claimed that because of the currently low investment earnings, it could not meet the guaranteed rate without touching its reserves.

      Russia's new state pension system became effective in January. The plan included a flat-rate basic pension; an “insured labour pension,” with benefits based on earnings and length of service; and a mandatory “funded labour pension” that was essentially based on investments. The Slovak parliament approved parts of a pension reform that would apply to all workers under the age of 40 and create a three-tiered system. The first and third pillar were enacted, but no agreement could be reached on the second tier, which would be financed through individual retirement accounts. Similarly, in May the Lithuanian parliament voted against a second pillar in the form of a mandatory funded system of pensions. In January Hungary began reducing the role of private pensions by eliminating the obligation for employees and self-employed persons to become members of a mandatory private pension scheme and by abolishing the minimum state guarantee under mandatory private pension schemes.

      Rising costs triggered a range of options for disability plans and health care. The United Kingdom introduced new rules to encourage the disabled to return to work by allowing them to retain their disability benefits even if they returned to the workforce. Previously, the disabled had to show that the work would be beneficial to their medical condition. Beginning in April the costs of medicines and dental treatment under Britain's National Health Service were increased. The Norwegian government proposed to tighten the eligibility criteria for disability pensions by introducing a requalification mechanism for people younger than 50 years receiving disability benefits; heretofore they had been granted a pension for life. The government in The Netherlands, in an effort to create strong incentives for employers to reintegrate disabled people, tabled a law that would require employers to continue salary payments for sick employees for up to two years; the existing law required a one-year payment. In Austria the National Council approved the cross-subsidizing of health funds. Financially better-off funds had to make payments into an equalization fund, and the recipients of the subsidy were obliged to repay by December 2009.

      Various measures were adopted throughout Europe to deal with increased unemployment. German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder announced that his government would implement proposals made by the Hartz Commission, including a restructuring of the labour market. Efforts would be made to improve job-matching and placement procedures, and unemployment assistance and social assistance would be brought more into line. In Belgium, in an effort to stimulate the employment of older workers, the employer contribution to social security was reduced for workers over the age of 58, effective in April. Starting in September Belgian companies were required to pay for outplacement services—including psychological guidance and job-search assistance—for dismissed employees over age 45. Beginning in February France no longer prevented a person from registering on the list of jobless if that person had started a business. Spain increased public spending on active labour-market policies and tightened the eligibility criteria for the receipt of unemployment benefits. In addition, a system of unemployment protection for temporary workers in the agricultural sector was established. Estonia introduced a new unemployment insurance that would become effective in January 2003.

      Throughout the European Union (EU) the social protection of home-based employees and other “teleworkers” was improved. Thanks to an agreement between EU employer and trade-union organizations, they were granted equal rights in terms of health and safety measures, training, work time, and the right to belong to a trade union.

Industrialized Asia and the Pacific.
      In September Singapore launched a long-term care insurance called “ElderShield” for Singaporean nationals and permanent residents. Enrollment was automatic at age 40, but those eligible could elect not to join. Premiums would be deducted from Medisave (the Central Provident Fund's medical savings plan) accounts. Some 400,000 eligible persons opted out of the program, owing to the annual cost. In addition, a means-tested program was set up to cover people between 40 and 69 years old with preexisting disabilities, as well as persons age 70 or older.

      Japan further revised its health insurance system, essentially by introducing higher co-payments and premiums that would take effect in April 2003. The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare made initial proposals for the next pension reform. It suggested that older workers might postpone their “special early retirement pension” (available to people between 60 and 64 years old). The ministry also proposed to permit temporarily unemployed persons to remain covered by the Employees' Pension Insurance Program, which was for private-sector employees, instead of having to switch to the National Pension Program, designed mainly for self-employed persons.

      In Australia discussions were under way on how to increase competition and efficiency in the superannuation (mandatory occupational pensions) industry. A bill was presented that would allow superannuation fund members to choose the fund that would hold their Superannuation Guarantee Accounts. Another bill provided for government assistance to low-income earners in the payment of superannuation contributions.

      New Zealand introduced a new paid parental leave that would be financed from general tax revenue. The legislation applied to those becoming parents on or after July 1. They received the right to 12 weeks of paid leave at a rate of 100% of previous earnings, subject to a maximum that slightly exceeded the minimum wage. Employers were required to keep the job position open, except in unusual circumstances.

Emerging and Less-Developed Countries.
      The Philippines established a health care scheme for the poorest families, which was implemented through a partnership between local governments and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

      In Nigeria work was under way to establish a national health insurance scheme, with five programs to cover various groups of people across the country (employees of the public and organized private sector, urban self-employed people, permanently disabled persons, children under five, and people in rural communities). In Tunisia a law adopted in March created a special social protection scheme for low-income people, such as domestic workers, small-scale craftsmen, and small fishermen and farmers, giving them access to old-age, survivors, and illness benefits. The National Social Security Authority in Zimbabwe published plans to extend social security coverage to domestic workers. In South Africa a committee of inquiry published a report recommending a move away from an employment-centred concept of social protection and the adoption of a more comprehensive approach. Among the proposals were the introduction of a basic income grant, extension of unemployment insurance coverage, and a better appreciation for the role of informal social protection.

      Argentina's economic crisis prompted the government to cut public-sector salaries and pensions by 13%, a move that was reversed in August when the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional. The legislature approved a pension-reform bill, which, contrary to earlier regulations, permitted employees to switch from a private to a public pension plan. New employees who did not choose a fund would be placed automatically in the public system.

      The national commission that regulated the system of personal pension accounts in Mexico announced new procedures to simplify the transfer of retirement accounts from one fund (Afore) to another. Starting in August Chilean pension-management companies were required to offer at least four types of investment funds with varying percentages of assets to be invested in equities.

Christiane Kuptsch; David M. Mazie

Human Rights
      The campaign for human rights moved in some dramatic new directions during 2002, particularly in promoting the attachment of criminal penalties to human rights abusers and increasing attention to the long-overlooked economic, social, and developmental elements of the status of human rights. Another factor affecting human rights was the threat posed by terrorism and antiterrorism activities.

Criminal Accountability.
      For the first time since the post-World War II war crimes trials in Japan, a head of state—Slobodan Milosevic, former president of Yugoslavia—was brought before an international court to face criminal charges based on major human rights violations that took place under his regime. Milosevic's war crimes trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) began on February 12. He was charged with genocide and crimes against humanity based on officially sanctioned policies of ethnic cleansing, forced migration, and the use of rape to punish and intimidate Muslim and Croat civilians in connection with Serbia's military and paramilitary operations in Bosnia and Kosovo.

      Another innovative step in the expanding effort to apply criminal sanctions to human rights abusers was the establishment on July 1 of the International Criminal Court (ICC), a permanent international tribunal that would prosecute a wide variety of crimes wherever they might occur, including war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, and torture. By the end of the year, 87 governments had ratified and become parties to the ICC. One highly contentious aspect of the establishment of the ICC was the decision by the U.S. government to withdraw from the ICC process to seek special agreements with individual governments that would exempt U.S. citizens from the jurisdiction of the tribunal. The basis for these actions was the desire to prevent potential criminal prosecutions by the ICC of U.S. peacekeepers and other U.S. citizens as well as military personnel engaged in operations around the world. Critics were concerned that the U.S. position would undermine future efforts to hold accountable nationals from other countries who committed grave human rights abuses and other crimes against humanity.

Economic and Social Rights and the Right to Development.
      The important emphasis on the principle of “universality” in applying human rights standards was signaled by several events. The World Summit on Sustainable Development, held in August and September in Johannesburg, S.Af., brought international attention to such concerns as land reform, environmental pollution, unrestricted population growth, protection of the world's natural resources, and the problems faced by the poorest people. The plan of implementation drafted and approved at the official summit, which was submitted for approval to more than 100 world leaders attending the conference (U.S. Pres. George W. Bush did not attend), called for governments to act “with a sense of urgency” to work toward several goals, among them a substantial increase in the use of renewable sources of energy (such as solar power), a great improvement in the accessibility of clean water and sanitary facilities, and the phasing out of the use and production of chemicals harmful to humans and the environment. The plan was sharply criticized, however, for not setting binding timetables for compliance. An “antisummit” gathering of farmers, squatters, and the unemployed organized by the Landless People's Movement and the Anti-Privatization Forum—held 32 km (20 mi) from the site of the official meetings—focused on the need to provide land and jobs to the homeless and unemployed in South Africa as well as to needy people elsewhere. Those in attendance condemned the global plan of action proposed by the official representatives at the summit as too weak and a “sell-out to business interests.”

      The antiglobalization movement—critical of how the restrictive-credit, loan-repayment, trade, and financial-assistance policies of developed nations and the international monetary institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), were harming efforts by less-developed countries to meet the needs of their poorer citizens—mounted protests in September at the World Bank–IMF meetings in Washington, D.C. The demonstrators called for a reduction or forgiveness of loan repayments by less-developed countries, the elimination of trade barriers, broader access to global markets, and a greater focus on human rights concerns in the planning and administration of projects funded by the international monetary agencies. Protestors gave special emphasis to the demand that debts owed by African nations suffering high rates of HIV-AIDS be canceled so that additional funds could be allocated to provide improved access to drug treatment in those countries. More than 600 demonstrators were arrested. The IMF reportedly agreed to move the issue of relieving the Third World's debt burdens to the top of its agenda, in what was described as “a dramatic new approach to resolving debt crises.”

Antiterrorism Concerns.
      In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the U.S. government instituted a variety of measures to deal with suspected terrorists that drew concerns from the international human rights community because of the restrictions these measures might place on civil liberties. (See Special Report (Security vs. Civil Liberties ).) Immediately after the attacks more than 1,200 aliens residing in the U.S. were arrested as suspected terrorists, placed in detention, and subjected to secret deportation proceedings without access to lawyers. More than 600 suspected al-Qaeda supporters who were captured during the fighting in Afghanistan were transported to a U.S. military base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where they were placed in indefinite detention under military control without access to lawyers or to the U.S. courts; they were treated as “unlawful enemy combatants” and therefore were not entitled to the usual protections afforded to prisoners of war. Two of these captives, John Walker Lindh and Yasar Esam Hamdi, were later found to have been born in the U.S. Because they were U.S. citizens, they were transferred to the U.S. for criminal trial in U.S. courts. Lindh entered into a plea agreement and received a 20-year sentence. Hamdi's case was pending, but questions continued to be raised about his status as a military prisoner and his being denied access to legal assistance.

      Additional concerns about the human rights implications of U.S. treatment of alleged terrorists were raised in connection with the issuance by President Bush of a presidential order, shortly followed by regulations from the U.S. Department of Defense, authorizing the trial of alleged terrorists by specially constituted military tribunals that were designed to operate in secret with considerably reduced due-process protections. No military tribunal trials took place, however, nor were any scheduled.

      A number of governments cited terrorism as a basis for limiting dissent or for punishing “separatists” and other minority groups. China labeled its Uighur minority, which had been seeking self-determination and independence, as linked to “international terrorism.” Russia renewed its crackdown on rebels in Chechnya, particularly in the aftermath of the takeover of a Moscow theatre by Chechen terrorists, resulting in the death of 128 civilian hostages. South Korea introduced an “antiterrorism” bill criticized by human rights groups as unduly limiting free speech and assembly. India passed an ordinance giving police wide powers to arrest and detain suspected terrorists for up to six months without charge. Jordan amended its penal code to expand the definition of terrorism to cover a broad range of loosely defined offenses. Australia—already under criticism for having abruptly turned away some 430 mainly Afghan asylum seekers rescued by the Norwegian freighterTampa and ordering the ship to leave Australian waters—used the September 11 attacks to justify a policy of keeping refugees in detention and to further tighten its immigration policies. (See World Affairs: Australia: Special Report (Strangers at the Gates: The Immigration Backlash ).) The United Kingdom passed emergency legislation authorizing the detention of aliens without legal proceedings.

Individual Country Problems.
      Nigeria was condemned for the application of particularly severe punishments, such as execution by stoning and burial alive under the Shariʿah legal code that was adopted in the northern, Muslim-dominated states of the country. Particular attention was paid to the case of Amina Lawal, a 30-year-old woman who had been condemned to death by stoning by a Shariʿah court in Katsina state, for being in an adulterous relationship with a married man and bearing his child. Zimbabwe forcefully expropriated the property of nearly 5,000 white farmers, ordering them to surrender their land to landless war veterans. More than 130 property owners who refused to give up their land were imprisoned. This policy was described by Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer as “ethnic cleansing on the farms.”

      In Myanmar (Burma) opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was released from long-term house arrest, but most of the other 1,600 political prisoners remained in jail; widespread abuses such as forced labour, arbitrary arrests, and unlawful executions continued.

      Human rights abuses and repressive policies continued in Aceh and Papua, two Indonesian provinces seeking greater independence, and a massive terrorist attack in Bali in October—also generally viewed as an act of international terrorism— raised fears about the imposition of restrictions on additional civil liberties and human rights. The human rights court established in East Timor to apply criminal sanctions to those participating in the ethnic cleansing that was instituted in response to the 1999 independence movement was roundly criticized by human rights advocates after many of the first 18 defendants subjected to trial on March 20 were acquitted or given lenient sentences.

Morton Sklar

Refugees and International Migration
      At the beginning of 2002, the number of people of concern to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) worldwide was 19.8 million—roughly one out of every 300 persons on Earth—compared with about 21.8 million at the beginning of 2001. This figure included some 12 million refugees, as well as several other categories of displaced or needy persons, notably asylum seekers (940,000); refugees who had returned home but still needed help in rebuilding their lives (460,000); local communities that were directly affected by the refugee movements; and some 5.3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs). Unlike refugees, IDPs are not protected by international law and are ineligible to receive certain types of aid. Though they did not fall within UNHCR's original mandate, certain specific IDP groups were given UNHCR protection in recent years following requests by the UN secretary-general or the General Assembly. With a rising number of internal conflicts replacing interstate wars, the number of IDPs has increased significantly. According to UN estimates in 2002, there were between 20 million and 25 million IDPs worldwide, with major concentrations in The Sudan, Angola, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and countries of the former Soviet Union.

      An estimated 3.9 million Palestinians were not included in UNHCR's mandate of responsibility as they were covered by a separate mandate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Palestinians outside the UNRWA area of operations, however—such as those in Iraq, Libya, or Egypt—were considered to be of concern to the organization. At the beginning of 2002, they numbered almost 350,000.

The Search for Durable Solutions.
      UNHCR encourages voluntary repatriation as the best solution for displaced persons and often provides transportation and a start-up package, which might include cash grants and practical assistance such as farm tools and seeds. Field staff monitor the well-being of returnees in cases where their security might be at risk. The duration of such activities varies but rarely lasts more than two years when longer-term development support from other organizations is more appropriate. Keenly aware of the importance of such multilateral development support to ensure the sustainability of voluntary repatriation, UNHCR undertook new initiatives in 2002 to strengthen the transition from emergency humanitarian relief to longer-term development. An integrated approach described as the “4-Rs”—repatriation, reintegration, rehabilitation, and reconstruction—was proposed in partnership with governments and other international agencies.

      Some refugees, however, cannot or are unwilling to return home, usually because they would face continued persecution if they did. In such circumstances UNHCR helps to find them new homes, either in the asylum country where they are living or in a third country where they can be permanently resettled. The last option continued to occupy an important place within UNHCR's global protection strategy, both as a durable solution and as a means of protecting individual refugees whose safety was in jeopardy. Although many countries agreed to accept refugees on a temporary basis during the early phases of a crisis, only some 20 states worldwide participate in official resettlement programs and accept quotas of refugees on an annual basis. In 2002 renewed efforts were made to expand the resettlement base and to encourage receiving countries to diversify their resettlement intake, increase the level of their quotas, and allow for flexible allocation of their quotas by region, country, or population.

Main Achievements in 2002.
      The conclusion of the process of Global Consultations on International Protection, which involved states, legal experts, nongovernmental organizations, regional bodies, and refugees themselves, was a notable milestone for UNHCR. The outcome of these consultations was the Agenda for Protection, a framework document that outlined a series of goals and objectives for addressing and managing contemporary refugee-protection challenges confronting individuals, states, and UNHCR. The Global Consultations helped revitalize the international protection regime, and the next challenge will be to sustain this momentum.

      Another highlight of 2002 was the massive return movement of Afghan refugees and displaced persons following the establishment of the new Transitional Authority in Afghanistan. Significant headway was also made in a number of countries toward conflict resolution, political and social stabilization, and reintegration of refugees and displaced persons. Despite a fall in the number of returnees recorded in 2001—some 460,000 as opposed to 786,000 the previous year—in 2002 there was a sharp increase. In the first six months alone, 1.4 million Afghans repatriated from Pakistan, Iran, and Tajikistan. Other significant groups who returned to their countries of origin were 20,000 East Timorese who repatriated from Indonesia, 17,000 Croatian refugees from Yugoslavia, 15,000 Burundians from camps in Tanzania, 11,000 Somali refugees from Ethiopia, and 10,000 Angolans from Zambia.

      Following East Timor's accession to independence in May and the return of the majority (some 222,000) of the East Timorese refugees who had fled in 1999, UNHCR announced that refugee status for East Timorese would cease on Dec. 31, 2002. Cessation of refugee status for Eritrean refugees was also scheduled to take effect on that date, and UNHCR informed those remaining outside the country—an estimated 325,000—of their options.

      The development of the peace process in Sri Lanka and subsequent confidence-building measures prompted the spontaneous movement of tens of thousands of IDPs to their home villages. By the end of August, more than 183,000 IDPs had returned to their homes and another 1,000 refugees had returned from India. As a result, UNHCR was able to reorient its programs in Sri Lanka toward finding effective ways to address the protection and humanitarian needs of the remaining 620,000 IDPs and to create conditions conducive to sustainable reintegration, including that of some 64,000 refugees in India.

Main Challenges in 2002.
      The largest new refugee displacement in 2002 was recorded in Liberia, where civil conflict intensified in the course of the year. By September more than 81,000 new Liberian refugees had fled the country. More than 24,000 crossed into Sierra Leone, quadrupling the number of Liberian refugees in that country, which was itself struggling to reintegrate its own returning refugees. The second largest new displacement concerned some 11,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who fled to Tanzania. Other major new outflows concerned Sudanese refugees who arrived in Kenya (4,300), Uganda (4,300), and Ethiopia (2,000); Somali refugees who entered Yemen (5,300) and Kenya (3,200); and Angolan refugees who fled to Zambia (4,600). In Colombia the humanitarian crisis deteriorated further in 2002; according to official estimates, there were more than one million registered IDPs, and other sources suggested that the actual figure could be double that.

      Largely as a result of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, in the United States, there were delays and a fall in the level of resettlement in a number of countries in 2002. It was anticipated, however, that levels for 2003 would be brought back into line with those of previous years. During the first six months of 2002, UNHCR resettled 9,300 refugees of 43 different nationalities. The following accounted for 94% of the total number resettled: Afghanistan (2,440), Iran (1,170), Iraq (940), The Sudan (920), Bosnia and Herzegovina (700), Somalia (660), Vietnam (570), Croatia (420), Ethiopia (380), and Myanmar (170).

      The number of pending asylum applications at the beginning of 2002 was 940,000, compared with 902,000 at the start of 2001. According to findings issued by the United Nations Population Division in October 2002, the number of migrants worldwide had more than doubled since 1975, with most living in Europe (56 million), Asia (50 million), and North America (41 million). The sociological changes that such movements have brought, coupled with the continued growth in human smuggling and trafficking, were undoubtedly motives for the intensified preoccupation with migration control demonstrated by many governments during the year. (See World Affairs: Australia: Special Report (Strangers at the Gates: The Immigration Backlash ).) This inevitably affected attitudes toward asylum seekers, and the reactions of shock and outrage following the September 2001 terrorist attacks served to further exacerbate these restrictive tendencies. In a few countries anti-immigrant sentiments ran high during election campaigns, with some populist political leaders having indulged in negative stereotyping and denigration of asylum seekers. Recognition rates decreased, and UNHCR was obliged to devote considerable time and resources to communication and information campaigns to counter such xenophobia and intolerance.

      For UNHCR, efforts to find solutions for refugees and others of concern remained firmly entrenched in the principle of sustainability in order to rebuild a stable social, political, and economic environment for refugees who repatriate or find local settlement opportunities in their host country. It became even clearer in 2002 that effective solutions to global displacement problems would be found only by addressing the whole chain of movement. The management of complex flows of refugees, asylum seekers, economic migrants, and other people on the move requires coherent and coordinated strategies and responses by the entire international community.


▪ 2002


Benefits and Programs
      The financial viability of social protection programs continued to be a matter of worldwide concern. In 2001 many countries restructured their various schemes with a view to ensuring their long-term stability. In the process the pros and cons of private elements in public social protection programs were debated as well as the question of what was the “right” public-private mix for each scheme. Governments and social security administrators also strove to improve the delivery of social services and to give more people access to benefits.

North America.
      As with so many other areas of life, social protection was deeply affected by the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11 and by the nation's prolonged economic downturn. High-priority legislation to provide prescription drug assistance for Medicare patients and federal support for faith-based charities was relegated, at least temporarily, to a back burner. Pledges that the Social Security Trust Fund would not be used to finance other needs were broken. Greater stress was put on the welfare system by an explosion of jobless workers. For the most part, as the federal government turned to more immediate concerns, social welfare activity was limited to debate, studies, and postponed action.

      The two giant social programs for the elderly, Social Security and Medicare, had received good news early in the year when the funds' trustees reported that both would be solvent longer than previously predicted—until 2038 for Social Security, a year longer than had been forecast earlier, and 2029 for Medicare, four years longer. Nevertheless, concerns about the financial health of Social Security, which in 2001 covered some 45,526,000 retired and disabled persons, continued because of the approaching retirement of approximately 77,000,000 baby boomers and the increasing life span of beneficiaries. In 2001 three to four workers supported one retiree; that ratio was expected to be just two to one by about 2030. Past strategies for dealing with the developing demographic problems centred mainly on such “tune-ups” as reducing benefits, increasing payroll taxes, and raising the retirement age (already slated to rise gradually from 65 to 67).

      U.S. Pres. George W. Bush favoured a plan for totally overhauling the system by partially privatizing it and allowing individual workers to invest a percentage of their payroll taxes in personal accounts. These, it was argued, would earn greater returns than the Trust Fund's more conservative investments. Opponents of that idea contended that it would deplete the Trust Fund more quickly and could be disastrous for individuals if stock values collapsed.

      Bush appointed a 16-member bipartisan commission in May to explore the issue and recommend solutions. Although it was a bipartisan group, critics charged that it was stacked with proponents of privatization. The commission announced in December that it had agreed unanimously on three options, all of which would rely on personal retirement investment accounts, reduce traditional benefits for retirees, and require further actions for long-term sustainability.

      The government announced a cost-of-living increase of 2.6% in Social Security benefits starting in January 2002. The average retiree would get $874 a month, up $22 from the $852 in 2001, and the average couple would receive $1,458 a month, an increase of $36. By law, annual increases in Social Security payments must equal increases in the consumer price index.

      Disagreement also flared over a cornerstone of the president's “compassionate conservatism,” his faith-based initiative for dealing with social problems. The administration wanted to extend federal financing for the charitable work of religious groups and make it easier for individuals to contribute to them. Proponents of the plan argued that religious organizations could reach some individuals with food, housing, job training, and additional assistance when many other types of social initiatives could not. Critics voiced concerns about violating First Amendment guarantees of separation of church and state. They raised the possibility that the plan would permit religious organizations to hire only members of their own faith and would exempt them from state and local laws that forbid discrimination in hiring based on sexual orientation.

      In a delicate constitutional balancing act, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly approved a watered-down version of the Bush plan. It would allow faith-based groups to use federal aid for religious activities if they received it indirectly (through vouchers, for example) and if they kept religious activities separate from social services and allowed those they helped to refrain from religious observances. The measure also allowed tax deductions for small donations for taxpayers who did not itemize their deductions. Late in 2001, faced with strong Democratic opposition in the Senate and pressures from the war on terrorism, Bush dropped the most controversial aspects of his proposal.

      The upbeat report on Medicare's financial condition was tempered by studies showing that dramatic increases in the cost of prescription drugs could create serious problems. One study by a nonprofit, nonpartisan group found that spending on these drugs had risen 18.8% in 2000 to $131.9 billion. With large budget surpluses forecast early in 2001, both political parties backed legislation to add some kind of prescription drug coverage for the 40 million elderly and disabled Americans who had Medicare, but they disagreed on how to do it. Democrats generally favoured working through Medicare, while the administration looked to private insurers. By the end of the year, however, the window of opportunity that was open earlier had been closed by the recession and the costs of fighting terrorism. No action was taken, and hopes faded for any in 2002, which was a midterm election year.

      In addition, the administration pushed to increase enrollment of Medicare recipients in health maintenance organizations (HMOs). In 2001 slightly more than 14% of Medicare beneficiaries were already enrolled. A potential setback to greater participation occurred when 58 HMOs serving 536,000 people announced that they would withdraw from the Medicare program in 2002.

      As efforts bogged down at the federal level, states began setting up programs of their own to help low-income Medicare recipients buy prescription drugs. For example, Pennsylvania paid part of the cost of each prescription, while California and Florida put caps on how much pharmacies could charge elderly customers. By the end of the year, more than half of the states had taken steps to help with drug costs.

      Welfare moved back into the spotlight in the U.S. Massive layoffs of workers following the terrorist attacks created unexpected problems for the social protection system just as Congress began to gear up for reauthorization of the 1996 welfare reform act in 2002. Pulled by the booming job market and pushed by tighter laws that limited their eligibility for welfare, nearly seven million people had left welfare rolls since 1996. Meanwhile, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the number of people in the nation living in poverty fell in 1999 for the fourth consecutive year—to 11.8%, compared with 13.7% in 1996.

      Despite those encouraging numbers and even before the terrorist impact, critics of the new welfare system had questioned how well it could withstand a weakening of the national economy. Moreover, they argued, people still on welfare rolls were those who had the most serious problems and needed as much, or more, federal spending to help them escape. There was also concern about many of those who had left welfare. The Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., reported that one-third of former recipients had to skip meals or eat less and that 46% had not been able to pay their rent or utility bills during the previous year. Supporters of the 1996 overhaul, on the other hand, claimed that the new safety net was the strongest ever and pointed out that welfare rolls continued to decline in some states even as unemployment there rose.

      In September Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced a series of national “listening and discussion” sessions to air issues and ideas about the coming welfare reauthorization. One of those issues was poverty among the young. Although conditions had improved since 1993, when child poverty reached its peak, children under 18 continued to have a higher poverty rate than any other age group. Democrats pressed for action in areas such as affordability and availability of day care, restoration of cuts in food stamps and Medicaid for immigrants, and an increase in the minimum wage, which had not been raised since 1997. Republicans generally favoured tax credits and more money for policies that emphasized work and reductions in single-parent families.

      Welfare reform also was a major issue in Canada, where Ontario, the most populous province, announced plans to impose the toughest rules ever in Canada for welfare recipients. Persons would be required to pass a literacy test before they could receive public assistance, and benefits would be cut off to those who had drug or alcohol problems and had refused treatment for them. Anyone who failed the literacy test would be required to enroll in a workfare program.

      Critics labeled the measure mean-spirited and overly harsh and said it was a possible violation of Ontario's human rights code. Officials responded that those receiving assistance needed to be pushed toward independence. They said that welfare rolls in Ontario had been cut by 60% in six years, but those who remained on them were the toughest cases.

      In other action the Canadian government raised the maximum pensionable earnings for 2001 under the Canada Pension Plan by Can$700 (Can$1 = about U.S. $0.63) to Can$38,300. The contribution rate was increased to 4.3% for employees and 3.9% for employers, which brought the maximum employee contribution, after a basic Can$3,500 exemption, to Can$1,496.40 per year.

      Portugal endowed itself with a new framework law on social protection, which came into force in February. France modernized its social protection system by introducing new benefits, such as a “parental attendance allowance,” to allow the parents of seriously ill children to take time off from work. In Romania the social protection system was adapted to new socioeconomic realities in that survivors' pensions were now also granted not only to widows but also to widowers.

      In Poland a discussion was under way to reform agricultural social insurance in order to build in mechanisms for structural reform based on solutions used in the European Union. The Netherlands took another step toward integrating the special system for civil servants into the general system for employee benefits when special unemployment regulations for employees in public service were abolished. Earlier, civil servants had been covered under the general Disability Benefits Act.

      Ireland took measures to reduce long-term costs related to disability benefits. The government encouraged disabled people to return to work by allowing them to retain part of their benefits during the first few years of employment after having been on government disability benefits. Attempts to keep people in the labour force were also made in Italy. Beginning in April social security contributions were waived for those employees eligible for a seniority pension who postponed their retirement.

      In Russia a pension-reform program that would create a three-pillar system was brought before the State Duma (parliament) in the summer and was expected to come into force in 2002. Latvia made progress in the construction of its three-pillar pension program. The law on funded state pensions went into force in July, establishing the legal basis for a capital-funded second pillar of the system that, together with the first pay-as-you-go pillar, formed the compulsory government scheme.

      In the United Kingdom “stakeholder pensions” became a reality in April. The stakeholder pension was initially foreseen as a low-cost supplement to the basic government pension for people without an occupational pension or other form of privately funded pension arrangements, but its scope was broadened to allow the inclusion of people who either had personal pensions or were members of occupational programs.

      In Germany pension-reform legislation was enacted in May, providing for government support for supplementary pensions in the form of cash subsidies or tax relief. At the same time, it was decided to reduce slightly and gradually the main (first) pillar of the system, essentially by introducing changes in the pension adjustment so that the replacement rate would decline from 70% to 67% of average net wages by 2030. Low-income pensioners were granted entitlement to a minimum income equal to 115% of the social assistance payment to a head of household. Workers were given the right to have a certain percentage of their wages paid into an occupational pension scheme. Vesting rights were modified, with employer-financed benefits becoming legally vested after five years and benefits from deferred remuneration becoming vested immediately. Prior to the reform an employee had to work for a company for 10 years to qualify for a pension.

      To cut health care costs, Switzerland developed a new payment model for medicines; beginning in January advisory services provided by pharmacists and dispensing physicians were to be refunded by the social sickness insurance separately from the preparation and sales element of the costs of medicines in order to eliminate mechanisms that made it advantageous to dispense large quantities or particularly expensive medications. Austria restricted access to illness benefits as of January. Earlier, an employee's partner who was not covered in his or her own right by social sickness insurance automatically received coverage through the working partner. This coverage was now restricted to people with children. The European Court of Justice declared during the year that medical services fell within the freedom to provide services, one of the four basic freedoms in the Maastricht Treaty.

Industrialized Asia and the Pacific.
      In June Australia passed legislation that provided for the split of superannuation (mandatory occupational pension) entitlements upon the breakdown of a marriage, whether by agreement or court order. Either a new account would be created in the superannuation fund for the nonmember spouse, or the nonmember's interest would be rolled over into a savings account or similar regulated product.

      Thailand's Securities and Exchange Commission formally approved the framework for a new system of individual retirement mutual funds, and the Revenue Department made it known that it would grant tax deductions for personal contributions to those funds. In Singapore the health minister announced the creation of a voluntary long-term-care program based on insurance underwriting principles, which the government would subsidize.

      In Japan the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Ministry of Labour were merged in January to create a more transparent administration with more effective political leadership. Also in January the Medical Care Insurance Reform Act went into force. It was designed to cope with rising health care expenditures, essentially by revising the co-payment system. A new cost-sharing system for patients over the age of 70 was introduced, moving from flat-rate to percentage contributions; the “high-cost medical benefits scheme” was also revised, with people now having to self-finance larger shares of medical expenses before receiving a benefit.

      South Korea's government proposed to introduce a system of individual medical savings accounts. It would be possible to withdraw funds from the account, up to a specified limit, to pay for medical expenses. The public health care system would cover amounts exceeding that limit. Hong Kong's Social Welfare Department made a similar proposal in relation to medical expenses after retirement.

Emerging and Less-Developed Countries.
      Many social protection systems in Africa and Asia continued to suffer from financial imbalances stemming from unfavourable economic conditions. Nonetheless, efforts were made to extend coverage, provide better benefits and services, and proceed to structural reform.

      Uganda worked on implementing legislation adopted in 2000 to transform the National Social Security Fund, established in 1967 as a provident fund, into a social insurance pension scheme. In order to be able to finance future unemployment benefits in addition to existing retirement benefits, the Board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund approved a new broader basis for calculating members' contributions, setting higher contribution rates and a new ceiling on insurable earnings.

      A health insurance program for civil servants was established in Rwanda and became operational in March. The program was designed to provide protection for the whole family; in cases where both spouses were civil servants, only one was required to contribute. In Tunisia a major reform of health insurance was under way. At the end of the process, Tunisia would possess a basic unified compulsory scheme (covering both public and private sectors) that would guarantee coverage for the most prevalent forms of sickness and an optional complementary program whose management would be open to both social security funds and private insurance companies.

      The Indonesian government announced that it would abolish the rules that prevented a pension fund from investing more than 20% of its assets in securities of any single issuer, a move essentially aimed at stimulating pension fund investment in government bonds. To speed up administrative procedures and increase client satisfaction, the Social Security Organization of Iran worked on a database that would cover all of the people that it insured, an exercise concerning approximately 26 million employees.

      Several Caribbean nations were able to improve their social benefits and services. In Belize a package to modernize social security was introduced. The access to a number of benefits was eased in the British Virgin Islands, and in the Netherlands Antilles the Law on Medical Insurance was amended so as to extend its coverage to retired workers and their family members aged 60 and over.

      In Latin America the trend continued for countries to introduce private elements into government-operated social protection programs. In Ecuador the pros and cons of such a mixed system for retirement pensions were discussed throughout the year. In Venezuela a presidential commission tabled a proposal that provided for a substantial proportion of a person's social security contribution to go into funded personal pension accounts that would be managed by the pension fund administrator of the individual's choice.

Christiane Kuptsch; David M. Mazie

Human Rights
      Special attention was given during 2001 to racial discrimination, efforts to end the impunity of major human rights abusers, the expansion of the ethnic conflicts in southeastern Europe to Macedonia, and problems associated with the rapidly growing number of refugees in the world community. In addition, for the first time, major economic and health issues took their place as the focus of international human rights attention. Concerns about economic globalization and the HIV/AIDS pandemic and its treatment received long-overdue recognition as major human rights issues. Finally, the September 11 attacks in the United States and their aftermath raised a number of major issues of human rights concern related to terrorism and to resulting antiterrorism efforts.

Racial and Ethnic Discrimination.
      The United Nations targeted racial and ethnic discrimination as an issue deserving special attention through the convening of a World Conference Against Racism in Durban, S.Af., in August. A major controversy arose at the conference and in the regional preparatory meetings that preceded it over language proposed for inclusion in the conference report that sought to equate Zionism with racism and also that called for financial reparations for the practice of slavery, particularly in the context of the transatlantic slave trade in the 16th through the early 19th century.

      Compromise language finally was adopted that deleted mention of Zionism but did condemn the treatment of the Palestinians by Israel in the first instance and, in the second, that replaced references to monetary compensation for the practice of slavery with demands for debt forgiveness, greater access to markets, and poverty relief for countries in Africa and the less-developed world that were targets of the slave trade. That settlement was not reached, however, until after U.S. and Israeli government representatives withdrew from the conference in protest. Many other government delegates and nongovernmental organization participants also expressed concern that the emphasis given to the Zionism and reparations issues tended to undercut efforts to give attention to a broader range of problems associated with ongoing practices of racism, including the treatment of indigenous peoples.

Human Rights Abusers.
      The broadening application of criminal sanctions to major human rights abuses represented an important emerging trend in the international community. In addition to indictments and trials by the tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda established by the UN Security Council, a number of individual nations, such as Belgium and Spain, instituted criminal prosecutions under legislation that provided for the exercise of universal jurisdiction over torture and other major human rights violations by every nation in the world. The principles of criminal accountability and universal jurisdiction established by the tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and by the case in the U.K. of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet Ugarte resulted in the conviction by a Belgian court of four individuals accused of participation in the 1994 genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda, the arrest and trial of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), and the sentencing by the ICTY of Gen. Radislav Krstic, the most senior Bosnian Serb military official prosecuted thus far, to 46 years in prison for genocide and crimes against humanity associated with mass ethnic executions at Srebrenica. The extradition of Milosevic by Yugoslavia to the ICTY in The Netherlands and the initial hearings in his case marked the first time that a former head of state had been subjected to criminal trial for violation of international human rights standards. Milosevic was charged with having authorized and supervised the massacre and forced displacement and deportation of thousands of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo by Serbian forces acting under his control and direction as part of a campaign of terror and violence that included shelling and destruction of homes and villages and mass executions of unarmed civilians. The stakes in the Milosevic case were raised even further when he was charged with genocide during the 1992–95 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This was the first time that a head of state had been prosecuted for genocide violations. By the end of 2001, the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda tribunals had indicted 101 and 51 individuals, respectively.

      Military action erupted in Macedonia in February when the frustrations of ethnic Albanians, who constituted over 22% of the population, bubbled over and both sides resorted to military means. An agreement brokered by NATO in August called for the ethnic Albanians to surrender their arms in return for a more substantial political role and greater rights to use their own language, especially in education. The Macedonian legislature began consideration of constitutional amendments guaranteeing minority rights.

      An investigation of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for massacres at Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, was instituted by Belgian courts under the very broad criminal prosecution statute adopted in that country. Ricardo Miguel Cavallo, a naval officer during the period of the “dirty war” in Argentina, was ordered extradited from Mexico to Spain to stand trial for kidnapping and torture violations. Mexico was believed to be the first country in Latin America to have applied the doctrine of universal jurisdiction. (See International Law. (Law, Crime, and Law Enforcement ))

      Efforts were also under way to establish special courts to try individuals suspected of massive human rights crimes in Cambodia, East Timor, and Sierra Leone and to constitute a permanent international tribunal, the International Criminal Court, that would have ongoing jurisdiction to apply criminal sanctions to a wide variety of international crimes wherever they might occur. Cambodia's National Assembly, after months of negotiation, approved the creation of a special court with both international and domestic judges to prosecute top members of that country's Khmer Rouge regime who supervised the extermination of an estimated 1.7 million people in the 1970s.

Economic and Social Rights.
      Increased recognition of economic and social rights as part of the human rights equation was observed throughout the year. Health needs associated with HIV and AIDS received attention as a result of a series of meetings in Africa following the XIII International AIDS Conference, held in South Africa in 2000. Several countries challenged pharmaceutical companies to make HIV medications more readily available in the less-developed world by permitting the manufacture of those medications in generic form. This would substantially reduce the cost of the treatments and make them more accessible to very-low-income populations, particularly in Africa, where the incidence of HIV/AIDS exceeded 25% of the population in many countries. Cipla Ltd., an Indian company that made generic drugs, announced just such a plan in February, and in April a lawsuit brought by 39 major pharmaceutical firms that had sought to block a law allowing South Africa to manufacture or import low-priced versions of anti-AIDS drugs was dropped.

      Large-scale antiglobalization demonstrations took place in a number of cities, including Washington, D.C., Quebec City, and Genoa, Italy, targeting major international trade and banking institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. The demonstrators sought improved trade and credit policies for countries in the less-developed world and a greater voice by poor nations in determining international credit and development assistance policies. The demonstrators in Quebec City in April objected to consideration at the third Summit of the Americas of a proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas that would strengthen protections for foreign investments and patents and thereby make it more difficult for poor nations to secure loans and provide social services for their citizens. In July Italian police were accused of having used particularly brutal tactics against demonstrators at the Group of Eight economic summit meeting in Genoa. One protester was fatally shot; more than 200 were reported injured; and nearly 300 were arrested. Similar disruptions were threatened for the WTO meetings that began November 9 in Doha, Qatar, particularly in light of the terrorism concerns in that part of the world raised as a result of the international bombing campaign in Afghanistan, but massive security preparations kept protests to a minimum in Qatar.

      The September 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. and the American reaction to them generated a number of human rights concerns. The extensive aerial bombardment of Afghanistan raised fears about deaths and injury to civilians caused by “collateral damage,” possibly in violation of the humanitarian protections of the Geneva Conventions. Within the U.S. there were a number of incidents of harassment, hate crimes, and discriminatory treatment aimed at those of Middle Eastern or South Asian appearance. The concern with increased security in airports, government offices, postal facilities, and public buildings was also accompanied by questions of freedom of access, individual rights in cases of searches of persons or property, and racial and ethnic profiling. Large-scale detention of suspected terrorists and a presidential order authorizing the use of military tribunals to prosecute aliens, including those residing in the U.S., drew wide criticism from Congress and civil liberties groups. In November a proposed UN treaty designed to combat terrorism was blocked by the demand of the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference that anti-Israeli militants and other national liberation groups be exempted from the pact's provisions.

Morton Sklar

Refugees and International Migration
      At the beginning of 2001, the worldwide number of refugees and persons of concern to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) decreased slightly, from 22,300,000 in 1999 to 21,800,000 in 2000. The latter figure included some 12,000,000 recognized refugees, 786,000 returnees, 914,000 asylum seekers, and about 8,000,000 other persons requiring protection or assistance.

      During the year a process was launched to revitalize the international protection regime; Global Consultations on International Protection coincided with the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. These wide-ranging consultations involved states, legal experts, nongovernmental organizations, regional bodies, and refugees themselves.

      The challenges facing humanitarian responses to refugee and international migration issues continued to be spread across the globe. The main durable solutions for refugees—i.e., repatriation and local integration and resettlement—were consistently pursued. Encouragingly, there were many successful resolutions of the dilemmas facing exiled or displaced persons, such as in East Timor (a former Portuguese colony that had been invaded by Indonesia in 1975) and in the Balkans. In other instances the desire to return to the country of origin—the preferred solution for many—was dashed by persistent or new outbreaks of conflict or political and economic disruption.

      In Africa the areas of particular concern remained Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, where ongoing conflict plagued the northern area, particularly in Lofa county. Violence and insecurity along Guinea's border with Sierra Leone posed considerable challenges. The issues of “safe access” to refugees for humanitarian workers and “safe passage” for the displaced were priorities for all concerned. Since early 2001 UNHCR, working together with governmental and fellow agency partners, had successfully relocated 58,000 Sierra Leonean refugees to new and more secure sites away from the border and had facilitated the repatriation of another 27,000 Sierra Leonean refugees by boat.

      In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), war displaced an estimated 1,800,000 people internally and forced another 350,000 refugees to seek sanctuary in neighbouring countries. Following Joseph Kabila's installation in January as president of the DRC (see Biographies (Kabila, Joseph )), the international community hoped for continued progress in the implementation of the Lusaka cease-fire agreement. An accord would help pave the way for reinforced humanitarian protection and assistance to refugees from neighbouring countries who had sought safe haven within the DRC as well as for the commencement of a repatriation operation for hundreds of thousands of Congolese nationals who had fled the conflict in the DRC.

      The Arusha peace process in Burundi continued to move forward, but many obstacles remained. When conditions became settled, UNHCR, with the support of the governments of Burundi and Tanzania, would work toward the voluntary repatriation of 567,000 Burundian refugees, most of whom were in Tanzania.

      Other long-standing conflicts, however, showed fewer signs of progress. The civil war in The Sudan dragged on—leaving some 443,000 refugees in exile and huge numbers internally displaced. Peace initiatives showed limited progress. Angola presented one of the continent's most acute humanitarian crises, with an estimated four million displaced and war-affected people. Nearly 350,000 Angolan refugees were outside their country, mainly in the DRC and Zambia.

      Afghanistan continued to be the source of one of the largest, most complex, and intractable humanitarian situations ever known. More than 20 years after the first exodus to Iran and Pakistan—and even after the repatriation of more than four million people—Afghans constituted the world's largest refugee population. By late October 2001, an estimated 1.2 million or more people were displaced within the country, and approximately 7.5 million Afghans required assistance, protection, or both. Even before the international military strikes began in Afghanistan in October, Afghans were on the move. Beginning in late August the Australian government triggered an international furor when it refused entry to boatloads of asylum seekers, mainly Afghans, who had sailed from Indonesia in an attempt to reach Australian territory, and forcibly transferred them to refugee camps in other South Pacific countries. (See Australia. (Australia )) Afghan refugees were uprooted by myriad factors, including the cumulative pressures of an endless war; the lack of respect for basic human rights, particularly for women; the most severe drought in decades; and the lack of ready sources of income. Prior to September acute asylum and donor fatigue had compounded the challenges facing humanitarian efforts to address these needs. The first priority was to provide immediate assistance for the coming winter months. At the same time, future needs were being assessed in the event that the conflict was resolved; a return movement would likely be large-scale and require the mobilization of huge resources to ensure sustainable return, reintegration, and stability.

      In Southeast Asia UNHCR completed its shelter program in East Timor and began phasing down activities during the second half of the year. After the murder of UNHCR staff in Atambua in September 2000, West Timor remained for many months under UN security Phase V, which precluded any permanent UN presence. In mid-2001 UNHCR, working together with other concerned parties, reviewed its position in light of the changing security situation and the peaceful Timorese elections in August. Given the increased postelection interest in voluntary repatriation among the refugees in West Timor and positive cooperation by the Indonesian government, many believed that the remaining refugees would return home by mid-2002.

      The Balkans continued to cause serious concern. By August the conflict in Macedonia between the government and ethnic Albanians had already displaced more than 140,000 people, including some 81,000 persons to neighbouring Kosovo (a province of Serbia, Yugos.), 12,000 others to the south of Serbia, and more than 50,000 who were internally displaced. The cease-fire agreement negotiated by NATO in mid-August was enforced over the next few months, and as a result, by late 2001 some 57,000 refugees had been able to return from Kosovo and southern Serbia. The processes of democratic change in Yugoslavia and Croatia raised new hopes of achieving durable solutions for the 1.2 million people still displaced from their homes in these countries and in Bosnia and Herzegovina. UNHCR anticipated that of the 700,000 refugees and displaced people in Serbia, most would not return home. National reconstruction and development programs gave priority to the integration needs of these people. Nevertheless, ongoing efforts to make return a real option were also essential in order to consolidate peace in the region.

      The return of displaced persons, notably the Serb minority, to Kosovo was a more problematic issue. Tensions remained extremely high between ethnic Albanians and non-Albanians, particularly with the small remaining Serb community. UNHCR and its partners had to strike a balance between upholding the fundamental right of people to go home and the need to ensure their safety. A limited number of Serb returns to safe areas in Kosovo raised hopes for the reestablishment of multiethnic collaboration and reintegration.

      In Western Europe an alarming growth was noted in the number of asylum seekers and the extent and nature of irregular migration issues, including human smuggling and trafficking. These trends indicated further evidence of a continuing cycle of violence, persecution, and ethnic conflict. Even stringent controls failed to dissuade desperate people from using desperate means—including employing the services of human smugglers—in an attempt to reach safety. There was a pressing need for consultation and collaboration in developing high-quality asylum systems among the European nations.

      The major concern in the Americas during the first part of the year was the worsening conflict in Colombia, which resulted in escalating levels of violence and an increase in forced displacement. Struggles for territorial control in strategically important border areas intensified, which increased concerns in neighbouring countries over national security and possible mass influxes of refugees. The number of individual Colombians recognized as refugees continued to rise. From January to August, 121,115 persons left the country permanently by air, compared with approximately 125,000 during all of 2000. In addition, in Europe and North America, Colombians constituted the 12th largest group of asylum seekers, whereas in 2000 they had ranked only 21st.

      Following the terrorist attacks in the United States, the U.S. government announced new rules that would allow its Immigration and Naturalization Service to detain immigrants suspected of committing crimes for 48 hours without filing charges against them and to deport terrorist suspects without submitting any evidence. Another new antiterrorist law granted the U.S. attorney general authority to certify and detain the spouses and children of asylum seekers who were found inadmissible on terrorism-related grounds. These measures were likely to have a far-reaching effect on the asylum process, both in the U.S. and elsewhere, with a risk of increased xenophobia and racist reactions.


▪ 2001


Benefits and Programs
      In 2000 many countries were concerned about the long-term stability of the various social protection programs. Public debate, reform proposals, and actual reforms were guided by this concern. The pros and cons of the involvement of private elements in public social protection schemes were discussed, and governments and social security administrators continued their efforts to modernize schemes. New approaches, including new technology, were used to improve welfare delivery and to promote fairness and opportunity.

North America.
      Election-year pressures in 2000 generally dictated social protection activity in the United States. Though a torrent of proposals and much debate occurred, lawmakers postponed passing most new legislation in the partisan-divided Congress.

      Two of the strongest threads in the social safety net—Social Security and Medicare—were among the top issues of the presidential campaign; candidates pushed ideas that reflected their respective parties' views of public versus private responsibility. Both Medicare and Social Security received good news early in the year when new projections indicated that they were in better financial shape than had been thought. Trustees of the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund estimated that Medicare would be solvent until 2023, eight years longer than they reported previously. It was the longest solvency projection for Medicare since 1975. Social Security trustees extended the solvency projection from 2034 to 2037; even if no action was taken, Social Security would be able to pay all promised benefits until 2037 and 72% of promised benefits after that date. Behind the revised projections were the continued strong economy and, in the case of Medicare, government efforts to contain costs and eliminate waste and fraud. Despite the improved outlook, both programs continued to face problems, especially as 76 million baby boomers headed into retirement over the next few decades, with increased life expectancy and soaring health care costs. Social Security, for example, would begin paying out more in benefits than it received from payroll taxes in 2015, and Medicare was expected to reach that tipping point in 2010.

      The better-than-expected outlook did not halt all efforts in Congress to make changes in the programs. The most significant new legislation was a repeal of the earnings limit for Social Security recipients over age 65. By an overwhelming vote, Congress ended the practice of deferring Social Security benefits for people aged 65 through 69 who continued to work and earned more than a defined threshold of income each year.

      Aside from this, however, most action took place on the presidential campaign trail. Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the Republican nominee, proposed a major shift in Social Security from a program of government-guaranteed benefits to one in which private markets and investment risks would be involved. The Bush plan would allow young workers to divert some of their payroll taxes into private savings accounts through which they could invest in stocks and bonds.

      Democratic nominee Vice Pres. Al Gore supported a less-radical change in which the federal government would match contributions from eligible individuals with tax credits that varied according to a person's income. Gore proposed to use excess payroll tax revenue—an estimated $2.4 trillion over 10 years—to pay down the national debt, arguing that this would bolster the economy and make it easier to meet future Social Security needs. A number of bipartisan groups also recommended moving toward private accounts, but most plans guaranteed a minimum benefit to make sure that recipients did not fall into poverty. Still others suggested dealing with the looming threat to Social Security's solvency by raising the retirement age and/or payroll taxes or by lowering benefits. The retirement age was already slated to rise from 65 to 67 in slow incremental stages.

      When it came to Medicare, both major party candidates offered plans to deal with a widely recognized shortcoming in the program—the lack of coverage for prescription drugs, which was the fastest-growing form of health care costs in the United States. Almost one-third of Medicare recipients had no drug coverage; the other two-thirds bought private insurance or received drug coverage through Medicaid (the federal-state health care program for the poor) or “medigap” plans that supplemented Medicare.

      As with Social Security, the Republican plan would involve the private sector, creating a system in which private insurance companies competed with the government to provide coverage for beneficiaries. The elderly could use government subsidies to purchase government-approved private insurance, including drug coverage, or stay in Medicare. The plan proposed by the Democrats earmarked $253 billion over 10 years to add prescription drug benefits to Medicare.

      Another continuing health care issue was how to help those who had no health insurance. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that after rising for 11 years, the number of people who lacked health insurance fell from 16.3% of the population in 1998 to 15.5% in 1999, primarily as a result of government programs such as Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) for youngsters whose families could not afford private insurance but made too much money to qualify for Medicaid. That left, however, an estimated 42.6 million Americans, including about 10 million children, without insurance. A report released by the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Research Council, warned that health care assistance for the poor provided through sources such as local clinics, public hospitals, and charitable organizations was overburdened and underfunded and could collapse without an infusion of more money and attention. Gore proposed spending $146 billion over 10 years to expand SCHIP. Bush's solution was to use $75 billion over the same period for tax credits to help people buy private insurance. Congress considered some legislation dealing with the uninsured, but most of it did not pass.

      As welfare reform marked its fourth anniversary, the Department of Health and Human Services reported that the rolls continued to shrink—to 2.4 million families at the end of 1999, compared with 2.7 million at the start of that year; the number had stood at 4.6 million when the overhaul was enacted in 1996. The report revealed that for the third straight year every state had met standards required by law for the proportion of welfare recipients who were working or preparing for a job. Independent studies found that those left on the rolls increasingly were minorities and children who did not live with their parents.

      With Congress slow to move in the social welfare field, Pres. Bill Clinton took some actions on his own. To combat the tight housing market in big cities, he announced that the federal government would increase the value of subsidies given to low-income renters under the “Section 8” housing program, one of the government's largest housing programs, serving three million households. The Department of Housing and Urban Development reported that a record 5.4 million low-income renters paid more than half their incomes for rent or lived in “seriously distressed” housing.

      Clinton also announced help for community and faith-based organizations to expand facilities where teenage mothers could receive support. The government reported that teen birthrates were down in 1999 for the eighth straight year—dropping to 49.6 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19, the lowest level in the 60 years the data had been kept.

      There was other encouraging news about the segment of the population at whom most social programs were aimed. A Census Bureau report in September noted a decline in the percentage of Americans living in poverty. According to the report, 2.2 million households moved above the poverty level (defined as $17,029 for a family of four) in 1999, and the proportion of those living in poverty fell from 12.7% in 1998 to 11.8% in 1999—the lowest point in more than two decades. Seven states and the District of Columbia registered declines in poverty population, while none had a statistically significant rise. A separate study by the National Center for Children in Poverty, a nonpartisan research centre at Columbia University, New York City, found that the child poverty rate fell significantly in a few states. It also revealed, however, that in most states and in the country as a whole, child poverty was higher in 1998—the last year for which figures were available—than in 1979.

      In Canada too the main concern was the country's strained health care system. After nearly a year of wrangling about financing and reforming health care, federal and provincial ministers agreed on a plan in September. Under the compromise, the federal government would restore more than Can$5 billion (Can$1.48=$1) a year in contributions to health and social programs by 2005, bringing its transfers to $21 billion annually. In addition, Ottawa would provide Can$1 billion for medical equipment and Can$800 million for health care reform. Federal transfer payments to the provinces had been cut in 1995 in an effort to eliminate the deficit, and this caused the Canada Health and Social Transfer block fund to fall to Can$11 billion in 1996. The debate over what to do included a push by Health Minister Allan Rock for a new home-care program that would relieve hospitals. In the end, the ministers settled for a plan that gave provinces more money to keep the existing system going and did not change federal and state jurisdictions. For their part, provinces gave up demands for automatic yearly increases tied to economic factors. In another area Canada's employment insurance rules were altered to extend parental leave from 10 to 35 weeks. The benefits were available to either the mother or the father.

      Concern about the long-term financial viability of Belgium's old-age scheme led the Belgian budget minister to propose the creation of a reserve fund for the partial financing of social security retirement pensions. In Ireland legislation was introduced to establish a National Pensions Reserve Fund to partially fund the future cost of pensions. Ireland also discussed the creation of personal retirement savings accounts.

      In Slovenia legislation paved the way for the establishment of second- and third-pillar pension schemes; meanwhile, the existing system underwent a major reform to stabilize it for the future. A voluntary pension-fund program could not be implemented as planned in Lithuania owing to inadequate funds to set up a regulatory regime. In Croatia a pension law enacted in June delayed the implementation of the reform process that had been put in place in May 1999. It was considered that extra time was needed to build the necessary infrastructure for the replacement of the existing pay-as-you-go system with a three-pillar system that would include voluntary forms of saving.

      In Germany tax-reform legislation—which had been considered a precondition for pension reform—was enacted in July and substantially reduced personal and company taxes. Consensus was not yet reached, however, on a proposed pension reform that would introduce a funded pension component. Tax reform in Austria created new opportunities for taxpayers to add a tax-efficient third pillar to their old-age provision, such as a voluntary supplementary insurance within the framework of the statutory pension scheme. A new flat-rate tax plan, designed to combat tax evasion by strengthening the collection process, was signed into law in Russia. The Tax Ministry was given the authority to assess a single social tax, including payments to the state-operated retirement, unemployment, and health insurance programs. Previously these programs had been administered by separate entities that collected their own contributions.

      The future of the entire social security system was heatedly debated in France among the social partners. Throughout much of the year, MEDEF, the employers federation, threatened to withdraw from the comanagement of the country's social protection programs. It sought changes that would make French companies more competitive in world markets and protested against certain regulations in relation to the introduction of a 35-hour workweek. The situation became particularly difficult when in July the government refused to ratify an agreement between the employers federation and the two main private-sector unions concerning a radical reform of unemployment insurance; an appeal was denied in August. The large public-sector unions would not sign the agreement, and the government was concerned about the creation of a “two-speed” unemployment insurance, in which a distinction would be made between people who easily found a new job and those who were penalized for refusing unattractive job offers.

      Many European countries also attempted to contain costs to keep health systems viable. Liechtenstein made it mandatory for health insurers to offer their clients a “family doctor system,” in which people who limited their free choice of doctor and agreed to see the family physician first would pay reduced insurance premiums. The Hungarian National Assembly passed a health-reform plan involving privatization. The first step would be to allow Hungary's family doctors to buy their practices. Germany's Health Reform 2000 turned out less comprehensive than initially intended. It proved impossible to reach agreement on such points as the overall budget and organizational reform of the associations regrouping physicians under the social health insurance system. The main changes were in entitlement to benefits and compulsory insurance and contributions. In addition, the federal Ministry of Health was empowered to give out a list of prescription-approved medicines. In The Netherlands, system stability was sought by an increase in the insurance base. The social health insurance that covered employees was extended in January to the self-employed. (See also Health and Disease: Special Report (Socialized Medicine's Aches and Pains ).)

Industrialized Asia and the Pacific.
      Australia began overhauling its welfare system. Following consultations across the country, a Reference Group on Welfare Reform proposed the establishment of a system with the following features: individualized service delivery; a simpler income support structure that would be more responsive to individual needs and circumstances; incentives and targeted assistance to encourage and enable participation; social partnerships, including a role for employers and communities; and mutual obligations, with sanctions applied, as a last resort, to noncomplying income-support recipients. The Australian government also continued its efforts to reduce future spending on public health care. Under a Lifetime Health Cover program, favourable premiums were offered beginning in July to people who took out insurance for treatment in private hospitals; low premiums were guaranteed for life if the insurance was uninterrupted.

      A management-consolidation process in the health sector in South Korea culminated in July; the National Health Insurance Corp. became the sole insurer in the national health insurance system. At its peak the system had been operated by 500 insurers who separately took care of the health insurance needs of different types of workers.

      New Zealand reversed its policy on workers' compensation. Less than one year after the workers' compensation market had been privatized, the state Accident Rehabilitation and Compensation Insurance Corporation (ACC) was reinstated as the sole provider of workplace accident insurance. The Accredited Employers Programme was also revived; under that plan larger employers with good injury-prevention records and rehabilitation systems could accrue some of the risk themselves, in return for cheaper ACC levies.

      Beginning in April, Japan embarked on another reform of its pension system. The main objective of the new reform, which would be implemented in stages, was to ensure that the existing public pension system could be maintained in the future while at the same time avoiding a sharp increase in contributions. It was decided, inter alia, to reduce benefits, to make workers between 65 and 69 years of age pay contributions beginning in 2002, to gradually raise the retirement age from 60 to 65 (between the years 2013 and 2025 for men and between 2018 and 2030 for women), and to increase the government subsidy to the National Pension scheme.

Emerging and Less-Developed Countries.
      An unfavourable economic environment led to financial imbalances and adversely affected a number of social protection systems in Africa and Asia. Nonetheless, reform efforts were made to extend benefits and coverage and to provide better service delivery.

      In Cameroon—where some 10% of the population was covered by a system providing old-age, disability, and survivors' benefits, as well as family allowances and benefits in the event of occupational accidents and diseases—authorities discussed ways in which to extend coverage. Measures included the introduction of new insurance branches and, in the area of pension insurance, a movement toward a mixed system—pay-as-you-go coupled with funding. With inflation running above 50%, Zimbabwe had plans to raise the contribution ceiling under the Pension and Other Benefits Scheme so that benefits could also be adapted. The South African Ministry of Labour introduced a draft law to broaden the insurance base and extend the benefits paid by the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

      Minimum pensions payable under the Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution were increased by almost 50% in Pakistan. The Social Security Organization of Iran started to systematically assess its health care centres to improve services and contain costs.

      The Gulf States began requiring expatriates to contribute to the health care system. Kuwait implemented legislation to this effect starting in February. In Bahrain the government was studying ways in which to recover the full cost of health services provided to foreigners. Saudi Arabia announced that its new compulsory health insurance scheme for foreigners would come into effect in early 2001.

      The Latin American countries continued to experiment with totally or partially privatized retirement pensions. In Chile the introduction of “Second Funds” under the Pension Fund Administrators (AFPs) was announced. These were aimed at older AFP members (people within 10 years of retirement age) who were seeking more stable investments. Second Funds' assets were to be invested only in medium-term fixed-interest securities. Ecuador was considering introducing a mixed-pension scheme, partly pay-as-you-go and partly capital funded, with mandatory participation in both components. In Venezuela, where a 1998 framework law that paved the way for the privatization of the country's social security system had never been implemented, the establishment of a mixed system was also discussed, but not before a large budget had been set aside in January to help sustain and restore the Venezuelan Social Security Institute.

Christiane Kuptsch; David M. Mazie

Human Rights
      Major issues receiving attention during 2000 were criminal accountability, gender-based abuses, self-determination of minority groups, and economic and social rights in the context of growing demands for changes in the loan and trade policies of international financial institutions in regard to the less-developed world. Particularly notable were two newly emerging approaches and methods for human rights enforcement. First, the criminal proceedings in the United Kingdom and Spain against former Pres. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte of Chile helped to establish the principle that every nation in the world, not just the specially constituted international criminal tribunals, was authorized to take legal action against torturers and other major human rights abusers. Second, mass public demonstrations in the U.S. and Europe protesting the financial practices of the World Bank and other international lending and trade-regulation institutions focused significant worldwide attention, for the first time, on economic and social aspects of human rights.

War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity.
      War crimes and other major human rights abuses and the accompanying principle of “universal jurisdiction”—the responsibility of every nation to ensure that torturers and other persecutors are prosecuted and punished—were prominently featured in human rights developments throughout the year. Building on the international criminal indictments against war criminals engaged in ethnic cleansing and genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Rwanda in recent years, the international community expanded the concept of criminal accountability by applying it to the abuses that occurred in Kosovo (a province of Serbia, Yugos.), East Timor (a former Indonesian province under UN administration), Cambodia, and Sierra Leone and by proceeding toward the establishment of a permanent International Criminal Court to provide criminal penalties for major abuses wherever they might occur in the future.

      The movement in support of criminal accountability also received substantial support from the decision by the Law Lords of the U.K.'s House of Lords that Pinochet was subject to criminal extradition to Spain for acts of torture and other atrocities committed during his regime. The Pinochet decision set in motion a new method for holding human rights abusers accountable—the initiation of criminal proceedings by individual governments under international human rights treaties, such as the Convention Against Torture, without requiring the establishment of special international criminal tribunals. As a result of the Pinochet precedent, criminal cases against human rights abusers were filed (or considered) in a number of countries during the year, including the prosecution in Senegal of the former dictator of Chad, Hissène Habré; the arrest in Mexico of Ricardo Miguel Cavallo, who supervised a “torture chamber” in Argentina during the period of Argentina's military dictatorship; and the continued investigation of former Argentine dictator Jorge Videla and nine other leaders of the “dirty war” in that country.

      Notable with regard to the development of criminal accountability was the upholding of the first official verdict by an international court (the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia) that rape and other gender-based abuses occurring in the context of situations of armed conflict can constitute crimes against humanity. Anto Furundzija, a commander of a Bosnian Croat military police unit, had been convicted in 1998 of having failed to intervene to stop a knife-wielding subordinate from torturing and raping a female prisoner. The concept that those types of gender-based sexual abuses are war crimes was also embodied in the statutes of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda and in the future International Criminal Court, which would be formally established following ratification by 60 countries.

      Equally groundbreaking in criminal accountability efforts was the first subpoena issued against Western armed forces by a war crimes tribunal. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia summoned U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki, former commander of the NATO forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to a pending hearing to inquire into unlawful arrest and abductions of suspected war criminals, while the World Court was asked to look at possible war crimes and crimes against humanity relating to alleged NATO bombings of Serbian civilian targets in connection with the Kosovo campaign.

Minority Rights and Self-Determination.
      The growing trend of minority groups toward demanding increased autonomy and perhaps even self-determination and independence from their home governments continued to escalate throughout the year, with particularly important developments in Chechnya (the breakaway Russian republic), Kosovo, Nigeria, and The Sudan.

      Chechnya renewed its battle for independence from Russia, begun in 1991 when the Soviet Union dissolved. An uneasy truce in 1996 was broken in the summer of 1999 when Chechen guerrillas launched an attack on a neighbouring province. Russia responded with a harsh military crackdown. The UN Human Rights Commission criticized Russia for “widespread and flagrant” human rights abuses committed during its most recent military campaign in Chechnya, abuses that involved “disproportionate and indiscriminate use of Russian military force, including attacks against civilians.”

      Kosovo, which had become the focus of massive armed conflict and human rights violations in 1999, began the slow process of recovery and movement in the direction of greater autonomy. Elections on October 28 represented the first time that the 90% ethnic Albanian population of Kosovo had been able to select its own representative government.

      Nigeria experienced a growing religious conflict between the Muslim population in the northern part of the country and the predominantly Christian south. As part of a movement to reassert Islamic identity under the newly democratic government of Nigeria, eight mainly Muslim states in the northern part of the country began enforcing strict religious laws, which, among other things, barred women from working outside the home, forbade the sale or consumption of alcohol, and imposed strict penalties for violations. These developments ignited Muslim-Christian fighting in both the north and the south that killed hundreds of people and threatened Nigeria's 15-month-old democratic government of Pres. Olusegun Obasanjo. Christians in the north became concerned that they would not be allowed to practice their religion and that their freedoms would be limited.

      The Sudan, the site of a brutal and long-lasting civil war accompanied by human rights abuses, found itself subject to an even more savagely abusive conflict in the latter part of 2000. The predominantly Arabic and Muslim government began subjecting the civilian population of southern Sudan, made up primarily of black African Dinka and Nuer peoples, to almost daily aerial bombardments, aimed at denying the opposition military forces food and supplies. International humanitarian efforts in the south also became targets of attack. In addition, the Sudanese government threatened to cut off UN-sponsored humanitarian relief flights and thereby placed thousands of civilians at risk of starvation. These abuses, together with alleged support for terrorist activities, resulted in The Sudan's being denied the seat in the UN Security Council that it had been slated to fill in October.

Economic and Social Rights.
      Human rights advocates, especially those in the less-developed world, urged that more attention be paid to the economic aspects of the issue. They maintained that the emerging principle of “universality” demanded that equal attention be paid to economic and social concerns, such as the right to health care, food, housing, and employment; they also stressed that violations in these areas that were occurring in the Western democracies should be addressed—that the focus should not remain almost exclusively on abuses in the less-developed nations.

      In 2000, for the first time in an international context, a consistent effort was made to bring attention to a major concern in regard to economic and social rights. Public demonstrations were organized to criticize the policies and practices of the major international financial and trade-regulation agencies, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Questions were raised as to whether they, and the industrialized governments of the developed world that support and control them, were doing enough to provide assistance to less-developed nations to help them meet the basic economic needs of their people and to advance economically. Advocates urged the World Bank, the IMF, the WTO, and other international institutions and their member countries to forgive or substantially reduce up to $220 billion in international loan debts that had been accumulated by poor countries that needed the funds to feed, house, and employ their own citizens. Less-developed countries also sought the lowering of trade barriers so as to give them more favourable treatment in selling their resources abroad and in obtaining products from industrialized nations at lower cost. Demonstrations began at the WTO meetings in Seattle, Wash., in November 1999, continued at IMF and World Bank meetings in Washington, D.C., in April 2000, and culminated with protests at the World Economic Forum in Melbourne, Australia, on September 11 and at the Prague Summit Meeting of the World Bank and IMF on September 26.

Morton Sklar

Refugees and International Migration
      The number of refugees and persons of concern to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) around the world increased slightly, from 21.5 million in 1998 to 22.3 million in 1999. The latter figure represented one out of every 269 people on Earth. Slightly more than half of them were women, and some 41% were children under 18 years old. This figure, however, did not reflect the dramatic and massive humanitarian crises that occurred during 1999. Systematic violations of human rights, failed peace negotiations or implementation of peace accords, internal strife, and, ultimately, war forced large numbers of people to flee their homes. In the case of East Timor (a former Portuguese colony that had been invaded by Indonesia in 1975) and Kosovo (a province of Serbia within Yugoslavia), the rapid exodus was reversed in a matter of months, but those displaced returned only to find their homes destroyed and the infrastructure damaged so severely that it was inadequate to support them.

      Despite resurgent worldwide conflicts, solutions to refugee situations continued to be found. Repatriation remained the preferred solution in many situations, and more than 1.6 million refugees returned to their homes during 1999. Often, however, they returned to uncertainty or uneasy peace. Resettlement also continued to offer solutions for many refugees, frequently the most vulnerable. In 1999, 45,000 refugees were resettled in third countries. Several South American countries opened up as destination points for a limited number of resettled refugees. Although less frequently an option, local integration provided some refugee groups with limited opportunities to start new lives. In southern Mexico 20,000 Guatemalan refugees were expected to be fully integrated in the country and to become self-sufficient in the course of 2000. Elsewhere, however, solutions remained elusive and resulted in protracted refugee displacement that in some cases spanned decades, such as cases involving refugees from Afghanistan.

      Although a cease-fire agreement was signed in May 1999, the situation in Sierra Leone remained tense. It was believed that some 2.5 million people (half of the country's population) remained beyond the reach of relief assistance. Security incidents in the area provoked the flight of over 11,000 Sierra Leonean refugees to safer parts in the south of the country. The northern part of neighbouring Liberia continued to be volatile; 8,000 Liberians left their homes for Guinea. Nevertheless, UNHCR assisted in the repatriation of nearly 38,000 Liberian refugees in 1999. Guinea hosted the largest refugee population in the West African region; care and assistance were being provided to more than half a million refugees there. The Central African Republic also received large numbers of refugees, primarily from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

      In the Great Lakes region of Africa, despite the signing in July and August 1999 of the Lusaka cease-fire agreement between the warring parties in the DRC, the situation continued to be tense, and the potential for population movements remained high. Since the resurgence of conflict in the country in 1998, 95,000 Congolese refugees had fled to camps in Tanzania and another 25,000 to camps in Zambia. Despite continuing difficulties in Rwanda, UNHCR supported the return of over 38,000 Rwandans in 1999. At the start of 2000, Tanzania hosted more than 480,000 refugees from Burundi, the DRC, and Rwanda. In Burundi security remained precarious, and there were heightened concerns over the possibility of refugee spillover into other countries. Of the more than 300,000 refugees who had crossed into Tanzania, some 50,000 had fled between October 1999 and February 2000.

      The two-year border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea had rendered thousands of civilians homeless and, in some cases, stateless. The signing of a cease-fire agreement in June 2000 led to the reopening of the border between the two countries and thereby allowed UNHCR to begin the repatriation of some 100,000 Eritrean refugees in The Sudan. UNHCR also continued to facilitate the return of Somali refugees from Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya to areas considered to be safe in northwestern and northeastern Somalia. Some 70,000 refugees returned from Ethiopia and additional groups, mostly from Kenya, returned to northeastern Somalia, including 820 refugees who were airlifted from camps in Kenya.

      Growing numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) fled intensified fighting as the 26-year war in Angola continued. Almost 20% of the inhabitants were estimated to have fled to safer areas within Angola and to countries in the region over the past several years. By August 2000 the number of IDPs was estimated at over 2.6 million. Tens of thousands of refugees also crossed into Namibia, Zambia, and the DRC.

      In South America a deterioration of the Colombian conflict during 1999 led not only to massive forced displacement within the country but also to cross-border movements. An influx of some 4,000 Colombians into Venezuela and Panama raised concerns about the potential for future cross-border movements. An estimated 1,100,000 people had been displaced within Colombia, nearly 600,000 of them in the past two years.

      The continuation of the armed conflict between Sri Lankan authorities and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam led to further population displacements in Sri Lanka's northern provinces. By August 2000 an estimated 700,000 persons had been displaced within the country. Another 70,000 Sri Lankan refugees remained in camps in India; their repatriation hinged on a resolution of the conflict. Elsewhere in Asia, the state of 100,000 Karen and Karenni refugees from Myanmar (Burma) located in 11 camps along the border between Thailand and Myanmar remained unresolved. Some 98,000 Bhutanese refugees in eastern Nepal awaited a durable solution to their plight as the two governments entered into discussions on the modalities for their return. The saga of the Vietnamese boat people in Hong Kong came to an end in February 2000 when authorities there granted the right of abode to the remaining 1,400 Vietnamese refugees and so-called nonnationals who had begun fleeing to countries in Southeast Asia at the end of the 1980s.

      The eruption of violence in East Timor following the announcement of the results of the August 1999 referendum on independence provoked the displacement of 75% of the population. Some 500,000 persons were displaced inside East Timor and another estimated 200,000 fled to West Timor and other areas of Indonesia. By mid-March 2000 over 150,000 persons had returned to East Timor from Indonesia and elsewhere. Militia groups in West Timor, however, held large numbers of refugees virtual hostage and restricted access to humanitarian agencies and the distribution of aid. Three UNHCR field-workers were brutally slain in the town of Atambua in West Timor in September 2000 by a gang of militia members. UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies withdrew their operations following the killings and left the remaining refugees to an unknown fate.

      Following the new outbreak of violence within the Russian separatist republic of Chechnya in October 1999, more than 200,000 people fled into neighbouring republics, particularly Ingushetia; thousands of others escaped into Georgia and farther afield to Kazakhstan. Though several thousand Chechens returned home to parts of Chechnya under Russian control, many left again owing to continuing insecurity, the destruction of their homes, and the poor state of the general infrastructure. As of March 2000 UNHCR was providing assistance to approximately 180,000 displaced persons in Ingushetia, consisting mainly of women and children. The majority were expected to return home in the near future.

      In the Balkan region a dramatic turnaround occurred following the return of ethnic Albanians to Kosovo in July 1999. Ethnic Serbs and other minorities in the province found themselves targets of attacks and persecution, and many were forced to flee. Between July 1999 and July 2000, 210,000 Serbs, Roma (Gypsies), and other ethnic non-Albanians fled in advance of the returning Albanians or were later forced to leave Kosovo. In Croatia some 10,000 Croatian Serbs (including IDPs as well as refugees) returned to their homes during the first half of 2000, almost as many as during all of 1999. Refugee returns to Bosnia and Herzegovina were also accelerated; 20,000 refugees returned to their prewar homes during the first six months of 2000.

      More than a decade after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, millions of Afghan refugees continued to find refuge in camps and villages in Pakistan and Iran. In 1999 some 100,000 Afghan refugees returning from Pakistan and Iran were assisted by UNHCR. Repatriation continued throughout 2000 but was tempered by fresh displacements of people as a result of war and drought. According to respective government figures, 1.3 million refugees remained in Pakistan and more than 1.2 million remained in Iran. Afghans were the largest refugee group in the world.


▪ 2000


      Debate over social security reform, often guided by concern about the financial viability of the various social protection programs, was the main topic of discussion in many countries during 1999. Governments and social security administrators continued to modernize programs, provide services more effectively, and raise public awareness of the importance of welfare beneficiaries' assuming greater responsibility for their own welfare.

North America.
      As welfare reform entered its fourth year with opinion still divided over its effectiveness, the overhaul of the two other giant U.S. social programs—Medicare and Social Security—stalled in 1999. The Congress and the administration of Pres. Bill Clinton could not agree on how to shore up the financially threatened programs for the elderly. Actuarial studies released by the federal government, however, showed that without any changes in the laws, Medicare would remain solvent until 2015, seven years longer than previously projected, and Social Security would be viable until 2034, two years longer than forecast. In both cases the extended time frames were attributed to the robust U.S. economy.

      Reform of the $230 billion-a-year Medicare program, which financed health care for about 39 million Americans aged 65 and older and for disabled persons, was dealt a blow when the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare failed to agree on a plan. Established by Congress in 1997, the commission was charged with finding answers to the problems faced by Medicare—both financial and operational. Although the group voted 10–7 for a proposal by Democratic cochairman Sen. John Breaux, it was one vote shy of the supermajority needed to issue a report. Under the Breaux plan, the federal government would offer a fixed amount of money to each Medicare participant, who could use it to buy a public or private health plan. The proposal also called for raising the age of eligibility from 65 to 67 over 24 years to match scheduled changes in Social Security.

      President Clinton opposed the plan and later offered his own, one of the most sweeping redesigns of Medicare since its introduction in 1965. The centrepiece of the Clinton proposal was the addition of coverage for prescription drugs. By 2008, when the change would be fully phased in, beneficiaries could elect to pay an extra premium and be reimbursed for half the cost of prescription purchases up to $5,000. The existing Medicare did not cover prescription drugs, but about two-thirds of beneficiaries received benefits through employer-sponsored health plans, supplemental insurance, or managed-care plans. Clinton also proposed to use $794 billion in budget surpluses over the next 15 years to help finance Medicare, which would thereby extend the life of the trust fund to at least 2027.

      The Republican-controlled Congress did not object to subsidizing prescription drugs but wanted to focus subsidies on low-income beneficiaries. Questions also were raised about relying so heavily on uncertain future surpluses. Congress approved $12.8 billion over 5 years to restore some of the funding for medical providers that had been cut in 1997, but the partisan atmosphere, the complexities of competing plans, and the approaching election year dashed hopes for a major revamping.

      The story was much the same with Social Security, despite the fact that reform of the nation's largest social program had been at or near the top of both Democratic and Republican agendas at the beginning of the year. Social Security provided benefits for 44 million retirees and disabled workers and their families. The benefits were financed by a 12.4% tax on wages, shared equally by workers and employers. The maximum annual earnings taxed for Social Security in 1999 were $72,600, and the maximum monthly benefit paid to a retiree and spouse was $2,060. The caps on benefits and taxable wages were adjusted annually to keep pace with changes in the cost of living.

      Although Social Security did not face as imminent a financial crisis as Medicare, it too had long-term worries brought on by increased life expectancy and aging baby boomers. In 1950 there were 16 workers for each Social Security beneficiary; in 1999 the ratio was slightly over 3–1; and by 2030 it would be close to 2–1.

      Congressional hearings, town hall meetings, and special panels and studies resulted in several reform plans. One of the major disagreements was over investing part of payroll-tax collections in the stock market instead of in Treasury bonds, the existing strategy. Stocks were likely to provide a higher return and ease pressure on the Social Security trust fund, but bonds were less volatile. In addition, Republicans generally favoured allowing individual retirees to direct their own investing, while Democrats preferred to have the government manage it.

      A study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a private research organization, reported that Social Security benefits kept about one-third of the nation's elderly from slipping into poverty and helped to narrow the income gap between men and women in old age. The report also indicated that Social Security had a larger effect on elderly poverty than all other government programs combined.

      New studies showed better-than-expected results from the 1996 welfare overhaul, although virtually all were tempered with some negative findings. The first wave of studies analyzing the impact of the three-year-old law generally agreed that adults had left welfare rolls at a faster rate than was forecast and that at least half of them were finding work.

      As of March 1999, according to government figures, 7.6 million people were on welfare, the lowest number in three decades. That compared with 14.1 million when Clinton took office in January 1993 and 12.2 million when he signed the welfare bill in August 1996. Every state had reduced its welfare rolls since January 1993, with 29 cutting them by more than 50%.

      A seven-state study by the General Accounting Office showed that between 61% and 87% of adults leaving the welfare rolls had jobs for at least some of the time. In the most comprehensive independent study to date, an Urban Institute survey of 2.1 million adults who had left welfare between 1995 and 1997 found that 60% had jobs at the time of the interviews, mostly in entry-level work in food or cleaning services or retail businesses. They earned an average of $6.61 an hour.

      Nevertheless, many of the jobs taken by welfare beneficiaries were short-lived and low-paying, and between 19% and 30% of those who left welfare found it necessary to return. The Urban Institute reported that about one-third of the people it interviewed left welfare without finding work and about one-third returned to welfare by the end of the two-year period.

      A Heritage Foundation study found that the major factor driving the decline in welfare rolls was tough state policies enacted as part of the 1996 reform. The strong economy was a relatively minor factor, according to that study.

      The Senate approved a boost in the minimum wage of $1 an hour, to $6.15 over 3 years, and cut taxes to help businesses that employed most of the 4.4 million workers earning the minimum. The House put off action until 2000. Even with an increase to $6.15 an hour, a full-time worker receiving the minimum wage would not earn enough to support a family of three at the poverty level. Congress also passed a bill allowing hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities to retain their government-funded health benefits when they returned to work.

      Although the Older Americans Act was one of the most popular laws ever passed, it had not been reauthorized since 1995, and the House of Representatives abruptly dropped reauthorization efforts for 1999. The 35-year-old law governed Meals on Wheels, senior centres, transportation services, and other popular programs.

      In an effort to jump-start a 1997 law providing funds for health insurance for children, Clinton directed federal officials to visit schools and enroll youngsters. The law provided $24 billion over five years, but, although the number of youngsters without health coverage rose to nearly 11.l million in 1998, less than one-fourth of the available money had been spent.

      Census Bureau figures released late in the year showed that many Americans still needed help. Some 34.5 million people, 12.7% of the total population, lived below the poverty line in 1998, down from 13.3% (45.6 million people) in 1997. The number of poor children and their poverty rate also decreased—from 14.1 million, or 19.9%, to 13.5 million, or 18.9%. The poverty threshold in 1998 was a $16,660 annual income for a family of four and $13,003 for a family of three.

      In Canada the federal government increased by about Can$2.3 billion (Can$1 = about U.S. $0.67) annually its transfer of payments to the provinces for health care. An additional $1.4 billion was also budgeted over a three-year period for research into disease prevention and other federal health care programs.

      In November, following criticism over its unemployment insurance $21 billion budget surplus, the government announced that premiums would be reduced by $1 billion in January 2000. Although the government would still take in about $5 billion more than it paid out in unemployment benefits, defenders of the surplus cited that a sour economy could quickly wipe out the excess funds. Also causing concern was the fallout from the 1997 laws that made it more difficult for working mothers—who now had to work 700 hours (up from 300 hours)—to receive unemployment benefits when eligible for maternity leave. A study by Statistics Canada found that only about 49% of new parents were eligible for paid leave under unemployment insurance, down from a high of 53% in 1992.

      Many European countries continued to be busy with health care reform. Most of them concentrated on cost containment, but others, such as France—with a proposal to create universal health care coverage—worked on improving access to health care. Most hotly debated by the public, however, was pension reform.

      In the United Kingdom a Green Paper on pensions, published in December 1998, formed the basis for discussions. It suggested the introduction of a new State Second Pension (replacing the State Earnings-Related Pension Scheme) and Stakeholder Pension Schemes (for people without an occupational pension), with the intention of reversing over the course of several decades the existing balance of spending on pensions between the state (60%) and the private sector (40%). In France the report of a Commission on Concerted Action on Retirement Pensions informed the debate. The report, released in April 1999, recommended that while a merging of the various French programs was not strictly necessary, the schemes should adopt common principles, and future amendments should apply to both private- and public-sector schemes. Other proposals were that the retirement age should be increased gradually, the contribution period extended progressively, and a mechanism introduced that would ensure actuarial neutrality with respect to the choice of retirement age. The report also did not rule out the introduction of funded-scheme components, provided these were used in support of the existing pay-as-you-go plans.

      In Germany tax treatment of life insurance was much debated, and in the summer the labour minister caused an uproar by proposing mandatory funded pensions for every worker in the country. Germany tried to increase its competitive edge by lowering contributions to the pension insurance from 20.3% to 19.5%, beginning in April 1999. At the same time, it also introduced new regulations governing “minijobs” (paying up to DM 630 [DM 1 = about $0.55] per month) that were no longer exempt from social insurance contributions. In July the Danish government introduced legislation that would reduce the retirement age for receiving a social security pension from 67 to 65 years, but at the same time, early-retirement provisions would be less generous. In Greece numerous pension funds were merged with the aim of rationalizing the social insurance system and restoring the profitability of those funds that were running at a loss.

      In May Croatia passed into law a multipillar pension system to begin operations in July 2000, with a second pillar consisting of a fully funded defined-contributions scheme based on individual accounts. While the Russian federation continued to work on its pension-reform program, setting up a three-pillar system, it also created legislation on the principles governing social insurance.

      Switzerland worked on the 11th revision of its old-age and survivors insurance, but public focus was on the creation of a maternity insurance scheme, which was rejected in June in a public referendum. The proposed law would have created a plan to compensate for loss of earnings and to install a basic benefit in the event of maternity and when adopting a child.

      In July 1999 the European Court of Justice ruled against Belgium in a case that was likely to have repercussions for other European Union (EU) member states. Belgium had granted special reductions in social security contributions to certain enterprises, arguing that this constituted a general measure of economic policy. The court supported the European Commission in its view that this was unfair competition, ruling that reductions in social charges not justified by the nature of the Belgian social security system and limited to certain sectors of economic activity were comparable to state aid prohibited by EU law.

Industrialized Asia and the Pacific.
      In February the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare announced the principles that would govern future pension reform. Pension benefits would be reduced and the retirement age gradually raised; shortages in funds were expected in the future as more elderly started to receive pension benefits. The government also published additional information on a new long-term-care insurance, scheduled to be operational by April 2000. According to a survey by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, those insured would pay varying amounts because the various municipalities would serve as the insurer, administer the scheme, and provide different services. Central and local government grants would meet half of the program's cost, and benefits would depend on needs. Beneficiaries would choose a care manager to set up a care plan for them within the budget approved by the respective municipality.

      Thailand debuted an old-age-pension and family-allowances scheme. The plan was conceived to offer an old-age pension amounting to 15% of average earnings of the last 60 months after 15 years of contributions, an old-age lump sum for people with less than 180 months of contributions, and monthly family allowances of 150 baht (1baht = about $0.025) per child, payable for a maximum of two children not over six years of age. In Indonesia, in a move designed to grant the central bank greater autonomy, calls were made for a new independent government agency to be set up to supervise financial services, including pension funds. In April the Indonesian House of Representatives passed a legislative package to this effect.

      Australia continued its efforts to provide better services to welfare beneficiaries and at the same time make them assume greater personal responsibility. Beginning in July, recipients of pensions and family payments were given the option of choosing their payday among the various weekdays; previously such payments were made bimonthly on Thursdays. From January certain seasonal, contract, and intermittent workers had to undergo a waiting period before they could receive social benefits. The new Seasonal Work Preclusion Period was introduced so that those with irregular work patterns who earned high amounts of income would support themselves in off-work periods rather than making immediate claims for social security payments. In an effort to reduce public spending on health care, in January the government introduced a 30% tax rebate to all Australian taxpayers who had private health-insurance coverage with a registered insurer. In New Zealand the workers' compensation market was liberalized. The state Accident, Rehabilitation and Compensation Insurance was removed as an insurer in this market with the July entry of a new Accident Insurance Act.

Emerging and Less-Developed Countries.
      Despite economic difficulties, emerging and less-developed countries in Africa and Asia continued to make efforts aimed at reform, the extension of benefits and coverage, and an improvement of service delivery. Côte d'Ivoire discussed a proposal to reform the National Social Insurance Fund and the introduction of complementary retirement insurance that would improve the level of retirement pensions but at the same time maintain the ability of enterprises to be competitive. Moroccan authorities debated a retirement pension reform that would lift the ceiling on salaries for contribution purposes and proposed to extend coverage to the self-employed, domestic employees, and possibly Moroccans residing abroad and not benefitting from any social security coverage. A Presidential Retirement Commission in the Philippines was established to review the country's pension provisions; a final report of recommendations was due in February 2000. In Iran the Social Security Organization tabled a proposal for the introduction of a Comprehensive Social Security System.

      The trend in Latin America continued, with countries experimenting with totally or partially privatized retirement pensions. In Chile the Superintendent of AFPs (the administrators of the mandatory private pension funds that cover most Chileans) increased the limit on foreign AFP investments several times during the year. The intention was to improve investment performance by stimulating greater portfolio diversification. The Mexican government extended membership in the private pension funds (AFOREs) to include people who were no longer actively contributing to the social security system—those who were not registered with social security as active workers but had a social security number and were able to make voluntary contributions. In Uruguay in an effort to counter fraud, insured people were given the opportunity to check on contribution payments made on their behalf by calling a new hot line installed by the Social Insurance Bank. In August Nicaragua followed other Latin American countries by announcing that it would transform its pension system into a fully funded scheme with individual accounts managed by private pension funds. A long-awaited pension reform in Brazil was approved after having faced resistance from public-service employees who had been able to retire under very favourable conditions; the new plan lowered certain pensions and made early retirement more difficult.

Christiane Kuptsch; David M. Mazie

      Major issues that involved human rights during 1999 included war crimes and crimes against humanity, efforts by ethnic minority groups to obtain greater autonomy and self-determination in their countries, expanded coverage of human rights standards to include private individuals rather than just government officials, and increased attention to gender-based abuses involving persecution and discrimination targeted against women. Priority was given to the issue of war crimes and crimes against humanity and to the measures necessary to secure criminal prosecution of those committing these atrocities.

War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity.
      These concerns were raised most frequently in the context of efforts by minority groups in several countries, notably ethnic Albanians in the Serbian province of Kosovo and East Timorese in Indonesia, to obtain a higher degree of autonomy and self-determination, and the attempts of their governments to suppress these demands through violent, repressive means. War crimes and crimes against humanity also were key elements in civil unrest in Sierra Leone, in the effort to secure the extradition of former Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet Ugarte from the United Kingdom to Spain so that he could be criminally prosecuted for extensive human rights violations during his regime, and in the uncovering of alleged abuses against the civilian population of South Korea by U.S. military forces during the Korean War in the 1950s. These developments signaled two significant emerging trends in the way that human rights standards were being interpreted and applied. First, instead of concentrating solely on violations by government officials, as had been the case in the past, an effort was being made to expand human rights coverage to deal with major abuses by private individuals and groups (such as the paramilitary forces in Kosovo and in Chile under Pinochet's regime) on the theory that governments were aware of and tolerated the violations and therefore could be held responsible. Second, substantial efforts were being made to criminalize the most horrendous forms of abuse and to make the perpetrators individually responsible for their actions.

      One of the most significant developments regarding these issues was the continuing effort to establish a permanent and ongoing International Criminal Court (ICC) to deal with war crimes and crimes against humanity wherever they might occur, without the necessity of obtaining UN Security Council approval to set up a tribunal for individual countries where violations occur, as had been the practice. Prior to the ICC initiative, war crimes tribunals were established on an ad hoc and relatively infrequent basis in response to problems arising in particular countries (Germany, Japan, former Yugoslavia, and Rwanda). The Treaty of Rome, containing the proposed statute for the ICC, originally was adopted in July 1998. As of October 1999 there were 88 signatory nations and four official ratifications. The ICC would be formally established when there were 60 ratifications.

      The principle of establishing criminal responsibility for war criminals also gained support from several indictments by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, followed by some notable arrests of high-level Serbian and Yugoslavian government and military officials implicated in the “ethnic-cleansing” campaigns in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Kosovo. Serbian Pres. Slobodan Milosevic (see Biographies (Milosevic, Slobodan )) was indicted along with four other senior Serb officials, including Dragoljub Ojdanic, former chief of staff of the army; Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, respectively the president and military commander of the Bosnian Serbs; and Momir Talic, the top Serb military commander and chief of staff. Movement in the direction of establishing command responsibility for violations also took place in Rwanda, where former mayor Jean Paul Akayesu was found guilty of crimes against humanity in the first case involving the imposition of criminal penalties by an international tribunal on the basis of mass sexual offenses (rape).

      A related development of importance was the mobilization of a multinational force, under the auspices of NATO, using military force in response to the crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing taking place in Kosovo. This marked one of the first times that “humanitarian intervention” had taken place on a multinational basis in the context of an internal armed conflict to prevent genocide and massive civilian displacement and abuse. Monthlong NATO bombings resulted in the withdrawal of Serbian troops from Kosovo and a cease-fire agreement that promised greater autonomy and protection for the ethnic Albanians, who constituted approximately 90% of the population of Kosovo prior to the eruption of fighting there.

Minority Rights.
      The year saw an increasing number of armed conflicts generated by demands of ethnic minority groups for increased autonomy and self-determination. In addition to East Timor and Kosovo, minority rights became a major issue once again in the Russian Federation republic of Chechnya when Chechen guerrillas sought to extend their secession efforts into the neighbouring republic of Dagestan. As many as 2,000 Chechens crossed into southwestern Dagestan and seized a number of towns, which led to retaliatory action by the Russian armed forces.

Women's Rights.
      Concerns were heard in about the use of rape and other gender-based abuses as weapons of war and intimidation. There was also growing opposition to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and its policy of imposing discriminatory exclusions of women from employment and other activities outside the home. Military and economic embargoes against the Taliban government were imposed by several governments, including the U.S., and were under consideration by the UN Security Council by the year's end. These sanctions were directed primarily against the Taliban's alleged harbouring and training of terrorists, but its repressive policies and discrimination against women also were motivating factors. Failure of the U.S. government to ratify the major human rights treaty dealing with women, the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), also drew criticism. The U.S. was one of very few countries that had yet to ratify CEDAW, which by the end of 1999 had 163 fully participating member governments.

Criminal Accountability.
      Perhaps the most significant and dramatic human rights development of the year was the arrest—in the United Kingdom for purposes of extradition to Spain—of former Chilean president Pinochet, who was accused of having orchestrated, while head of state, extensive human rights violations aimed at crushing political opposition to his regime through executions, disappearances, arbitrary arrests, and detentions, including the regular infliction of torture on detainees. In October, after lengthy legal proceedings and appeals, British courts found Pinochet subject to extradition on the basis of violations of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment during his tenure of office. It was considered a landmark decision because, for the first time, it provided international recognition that government leaders could be subjected to criminal sanctions and held personally responsible for these types of gross violations of human rights. It also obligated all nations to carry out these prosecutions wherever the perpetrators could be found. The U.K. courts rejected the defense that heads of state are exempt from criminal sanctions imposed on actions taking place while they were in power, a long-standing principle of international law, on the theory that public officials must abide by human rights requirements.

Specific Country Developments.
      Major human rights developments of note took place in a number of individual countries. China engaged in a major crackdown on human rights activists in response to efforts to establish the country's first opposition political party, the China Democratic Party, which had gained surprising initial success by establishing committees in 23 of the nation's 31 provinces and major urban centres. The repression of dissent later extended to leaders and followers of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, which came to be seen as a threat when it organized mass public demonstrations, including a sit-down in front of the government's leadership compound in Beijing on April 25. The group was banned on July 22; its active World Wide Web site was shut down; and many of its leaders were arrested. The government called the movement the most significant political threat since the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy demonstrations.

      East Timor was engulfed by ethnic violence, forced migration, and anarchy, as well-armed pro-Indonesian militias, with the apparent backing (or tacit support) of the army, engaged in a campaign to protest against a UN-supervised referendum held on August 30 on whether the country should gain independence after 24 years of Indonesian military occupation and forced annexation. Government repression was believed to have cost the lives of 200,000 East Timorese since the Indonesian invasion of the territory in 1975. The violence resulted in the posting of a UN peacekeeping force aimed at securing observance of the results of the referendum favouring self-determination.

      Nigeria began the process of returning to civilian, democratic rule with the holding of the first elections after the death of dictator Gen. Sani Abacha in June 1998. The newly elected president and former prisoner of conscience, Olusegun Obasanjo (see Biographies (Obasanjo, Olusegun )), took office in May and began the release of former political prisoners, with more than 140 gaining freedom by the end of the year.

      Cambodia announced a settlement with the Khmer Rouge followers of the late Pol Pot aimed at ending their resistance to the current regime in return for amnesty. They were responsible for death by execution, starvation, and forced labour of an estimated 1.5 million Cambodians in the late 1970s, producing what were referred to as the “killing fields.” The agreement would end earlier efforts to try Khmer Rouge leaders such as Khieu Samphan and Nuan Chea for crimes against humanity and was taken to avoid continuing civil war.

Morton Sklar

      Continuing the trend that began in 1998, there were no massive refugee movements in the early weeks of 1999. This pattern changed dramatically in the last week of March, however, with the beginning of armed conflict in Kosovo, a province of the republic of Serbia. In that week alone 100,000 Kosovar refugees entered neighbouring countries, mainly Albania and Macedonia, and the outflow continued to number in the thousands on a daily basis during the weeks that followed. Against a backdrop of violence, military action, failed political negotiations, and international tension, close to a million persons from Kosovo (mainly ethnic Albanians but also Serbs and other minority groups) fled or were forced either into the rest of Yugoslavia or neighbouring countries during the first half of 1999. A humanitarian evacuation program was launched soon afterward from Macedonia. By June more than 86,000 refugees had been evacuated to 30 countries. After military aid was provided for the Kosovars, they returned to their homeland at a rapid rate. Well over 770,000 had returned to Kosovo by September, many of them finding their homes damaged or destroyed. Yugoslavia in 1999 was host to 508,000 refugees, mostly from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and to approximately 700,000 internally displaced persons. At the year's end some 1.2 million refugees and internally displaced persons from the wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina remained in need of durable solutions.

      At the beginning of 1999, the global number of refugees and persons of concern to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stood at 21.5 million, which represented one out of every 280 people on Earth. Close to half of this number (11.4 million) were refugees, while the remainder comprised internally displaced persons, returnees, asylum seekers, and stateless people. The vast majority of refugees and persons of concern were in Africa, Asia, and Europe. Half of this population were women, and 14% were children under five years of age. Approximately 986,000 refugees returned to their countries of origin in 1998. While repatriation remained the preferred solution in many crises, some 21,200 refugees were also assisted in resettling in third countries.

      Movements along and across borders were particularly alarming in Africa during 1998 and the first half of 1999. In West Africa the crisis in Sierra Leone forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes. As of June 1999, approximately 450,000 Sierra Leoneans had fled from hostilities in the country, mostly to Guinea and Liberia. Elsewhere in West Africa, more than 330,000 refugees returned to Liberia, mainly from the two largest host countries, Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea. Recent incidents in Liberia, however, raised concerns that this might lead to fresh outflows of refugees. The repatriation of some 135,000 refugees to Mali and Niger marked the end of a displacement situation that had persisted for the past four years.

      As 1998 drew to a close, the armed conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia led to a new round of displacements and mass expulsions in the Horn of Africa. At the end of 1998, The Sudan was host to an estimated total of 392,000 refugees, primarily from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Chad, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo [Kinshasa]), and Somalia. During 1999, however, some Ethiopian refugees were able to return from The Sudan, and small numbers of refugees returned from Ethiopia to northwestern Somalia, which indicated that some degree of peace and stability had returned to parts of the Horn of Africa.

      In the Great Lakes region of Africa, the extremely complex pattern of war in Congo (Kinshasa) and the Republic of the Congo (Congo [Brazzaville]), which started in August 1998, forced people to crisscross those countries' borders. More than 700,000 persons were internally displaced in Congo (Kinshasa), most of them inaccessible to relief organizations. The fighting also compelled thousands of Congolese refugees—reaching a total of more than 90,000 by late June 1999—to flee into Tanzania. More than 25,000 persons also crossed into northern Zambia in March 1999. Refugees also flowed into Congo (Kinshasa) from the Congo (Brazzaville) as a result of renewed conflict there. The signing of a tripartite agreement between the Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Kinshasa), and UNHCR in April 1999 led to the creation of a humanitarian corridor that allowed the return of some 36,000 Congolese refugees back to Brazzaville by rail and river. The situation in Burundi remained fragile, with fresh episodes of violence forcing more people to flee the country. In Tanzania UNHCR provided assistance to more than 260,000 Burundian refugees. Despite the instability, however, more than 200,000 refugees had returned to Burundi since 1996.

      For three decades Angola had been devastated by war. More than 300,000 refugees fled to neighbouring countries, mainly Congo (Kinshasa) and Zambia. Almost one-third of those refugees left the country after the upsurge in fighting between May 1998 and June 1999. In addition, 1.5 million people were believed to be internally displaced.

      In Southeast Asia the violence that erupted in East Timor during the first half of 1999 led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of persons. As of October there were more than 400,000 people of concern to UNHCR in East and West Timor and other areas of Indonesia. With the deployment of peacekeeping forces in September, humanitarian efforts were refocused on helping those who wanted to repatriate to East Timor.

      The situation of some 100,000 Karen and Karenni refugees from Myanmar (Burma) accommodated in 11 camps along the Thailand-Myanmar border in Thailand remained unresolved over the year. Continued strife in border areas within Myanmar in the first half of 1999 forced thousands more refugees to flee to the camps. The majority of the 250,000 refugees from Myanmar, however, had returned to the country since 1993 under a UNHCR-assisted repatriation program, which left some 22,000 in two camps at the end of 1998. Following the peace settlement of December 1998 between the government of Cambodia and resistance forces, the repatriation of the remaining 36,000 Cambodian refugees who had fled their country after the political and military developments of 1997 was completed in June 1999. Renewed conflict in Sri Lanka between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) prolonged the plight of some 650,000 internally displaced persons in that country. Nevertheless, since 1997, some 140,000 internally displaced persons had returned to their places of origin in the Jaffna Peninsula.

      In Central America the return of Guatemalan refugees in Mexico was largely completed in 1999. Some 42,500 refugees who had sought sanctuary in southern Mexico in the early 1980s returned to Guatemala under UNHCR's auspices by June 1999. In South America internal displacement in Colombia reached record levels in 1999. It was estimated that up to 1.6 million people had been displaced and had spread throughout the country. Displaced Colombians also fled to Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela.

      On the southern border of Russia, fighting in Dagestan displaced 33,000 people. Also within the Russian Federation an escalation in the fighting between Russian troops and rebel groups in Chechnya in the latter part of 1999 forced tens of thousands of refugees to flee to neighbouring Ingushetia. In the Transcaucasia region, well over one million people were refugees or internally displaced in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, where the conflicts that led to their uprooting remained unresolved.

      In Afghanistan renewed fighting caused fresh movements of refugees during the year. More than 150,000 people were estimated internally displaced at the end of 1999. In 1998 UNHCR assisted the repatriation of about 107,000 refugees to return to Afghanistan, of whom 93,000 returned from Pakistan and 14,000 from Iran.

      In 1998 the 15 member nations of the European Union received a total of 304,000 asylum applications, an increase of 21% over 1997. In North America Canada was host to an estimated 159,000 persons of concern to UNHCR. Nearly 24,000 requested refugee status in 1998, and of those, 55% were approved. In the United States more than 35,000 applications for asylum were submitted in 1998, a decline of more than 50% from 1997. The U.S., however, remained the leading destination of refugees resettled by UNHCR, accounting for half of all resettlement worldwide. During fiscal 1999 the U.S. authorized the admission of 78,000 refugees.


▪ 1999


Benefits and Programs
      Industrialized, emerging, and less-developed countries all continued to be concerned about existing strains and potential burdens on their social protection programs and took measures in 1998 toward improving the financial stability of their systems. In order to provide relief to public coffers and social insurance institutions, access to benefits was restricted or cut and measures were taken to increase the ability of benefit recipients to provide for themselves.

North America.
      A booming economy and election-year sensitivities shifted the focus of social protection activity in the United States from legislation to debate in 1998. The chief issue was the financial stability of Social Security, which provided retirement, disability, and survivors' benefits to more than 44 million Americans. The system collected about $100 billion a year more in payroll taxes than it paid out in benefits, but concern had been growing about what would happen when 77 million baby boomers started to retire after 2010. The percentage of Americans 65 and older, about 12.7% of the population in 1998, was expected to rise to 20.7% by 2050, and the ratio of workers to retirees, now 3-1, would shrink to 2-1. Some thought that the system would start running a deficit beginning in 2029, but the Social Security trustees reported that, owing to the strong economy, the problem would be deferred until 2032.

      In his state of the union message, U.S. Pres. Bill Clinton said that the U.S. had to "save Social Security first" and called on Congress to use budget surpluses to shore up the system's trust fund. The White House led a national dialogue, with a series of "town hall" forums across the country, to discuss ideas for rescuing the largest U.S. social welfare program. Plans centred on four strategies: (1) increasing payroll taxes, which were 12.4%, split equally between workers and employers, on salaries up to a maximum of $72,600 annually; (2) raising the retirement age, which was already scheduled to increase gradually from 65 to 67; (3) cutting benefits; and (4) revising the structure of the system. The latter proposal stirred the greatest controversy. Money in the Social Security trust fund had always been invested in safe but low-yielding government bonds. Several ideas for reform called for moving a portion of the funds into private savings accounts, a move that would invest it in riskier but higher-paying stocks.

      The bipartisan National Commission on Retirement Policy, a group of congressmen, business leaders, and academicians, recommended allowing individuals to invest 2% of their payroll taxes in government-selected funds. It also called for raising the retirement age to 70 and creating a minimum benefit for low-income retirees. Several other proposals were introduced in Congress by both Republicans and Democrats. Critics of privatized accounts raised questions concerning the percentage of trust money that should be shifted to equities, who would do the investing, what would happen if the stock market went down, and whether the change would be fair for women and low-income retirees. Wary of tinkering with a popular program in an election year, Congress did not act on any of the proposals, although it did decide to hold 90% of the budget surplus in reserve until Social Security was solvent.

      Like Social Security, Medicare, which provided health insurance to about 38 million Americans over the age of 64, also faced financial problems. As medical costs soared and increasing numbers of elderly persons entered the program, the cost of Medicare was expected to grow from less than 3% of gross domestic product to about 6%. The Social Security trustees' report said that Medicare was financially secure until 2008 and that its financial outlook for the next 75 years had improved because of cost-cutting measures and other changes in 1997. The job of dealing with Medicare's solvency was given to a 19-member National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare, which was scheduled to present a plan to Congress on or before March 1, 1999.

      The most significant new initiative by Congress in the realm of social protection was passage of the first complete overhaul in 60 years of U.S. public-housing policy. The landmark legislation created 90,000 new vouchers, or federal rent subsidies, for fiscal 1999 and authorized another 100,000 vouchers in each of the following two years. Three million Americans received federal help in paying their rent or buying an apartment, but, according to the most recent government survey, in 1995 there was a shortage of 4.4 million affordable rental units for low-income households.

      An innovative feature of the new law allowed officials to offer apartments in public housing projects to working families with incomes of up to $40,000 a year. The hope was to bring stable, higher-income working tenants into those projects in an effort to create greater diversity, reduce drug use and other crimes, and improve the image of public housing. At least 40% of public housing, however, would continue to be reserved for the very poor—and 75% would be reserved for families making 30% or less of the median income in the area in which they lived.

      Congress extended the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) through 2003, with new provisions to weed out fraud. The renewal included after-school snacks for teenagers in low-income areas and a three-year pilot school-breakfast program. WIC provided federally funded vouchers for infant formula, cereal, and other nutritious products to supplement the diets of about 7.3 million low-income pregnant women, infants, and children up to age five.

      In October the long-planned computerized national child-support clearinghouse began operations. It matched child-support case information sent in by states with information about wage earners across the country in an effort to track down absent parents who owed annually about $17 billion for support.

      No action was taken on requests by President Clinton to increase the minimum wage and to open Medicare to some 55-64-year-old retirees who would pay monthly premiums. They were among the 44 million Americans, including 12 million children, who lacked health insurance because they could not obtain it through work, could not afford it, or were ineligible for Medicare or Medicaid, the government insurance program for the poor.

      Meanwhile, the impact of the historic 1996 welfare-reform law continued to expand. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported that 3.8 million individuals had left welfare rolls since passage of the reform law, which had reduced the caseload to its lowest level since 1969, and that 1.7 million adults who had been on welfare in 1996 were working in March 1997. According to HHS, states were spending more per person on welfare-to-work efforts than they had spent before passage of the reform.

      Despite the positive results, welfare reform remained a work in progress, with real and potential problems. Moving welfare recipients into jobs was likely to slow when the U.S. economy cooled and the availability of low-wage jobs shrank. In addition, those who made the jump from welfare to work in the first two years were generally the "easiest" cases; many of the more difficult ones, the people with fewer skills and less education and training, had not yet been placed. Cracks appeared in the support system, especially in providing child care for mothers entering the workforce and transportation to help newcomers get to their jobs. In response to public outcries and prodding from Clinton, Congress continued to "reform" the reform. It restored Supplemental Security Income to elderly and disabled immigrants and food stamps to 250,000 legal immigrants who had been dropped from the rolls.

      The early success of welfare reform was aided by a dramatic drop in poverty and an increase in incomes. Census Bureau figures showed that the overall U.S. poverty rate fell to 13.3% in 1997, from 13.7% in 1996, which left 35.6 million people living below the poverty line of $16,400 annually for a family of four. At the same time, the median household income of American families, adjusted for inflation, rose 1.9% to $37,005. Virtually all sectors of the population—all races, single mothers and married couples, and most geographic regions—registered improvement. African-Americans and Hispanics had especially strong gains, with the poverty rate for African-Americans falling to an all-time low of 26.5% and the Hispanic rate declining to 27.1%. Strong economic growth and low unemployment were cited as two of the main reasons for the improvement.

      One of the most contentious issues in Canada was the proposed Seniors Benefit, which had been announced by Finance Minister Paul Martin in his 1996 budget and in 2001 would replace the existing Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement programs with a single payment. The goal of the new plan was to increase payments to low-income seniors while decreasing the amounts given to financially better-off recipients. After further scrutiny of the plan, however, investment advisers found that benefits would be eliminated entirely at a much lower income threshold ($52,000 for a single senior and $78,000 for a couple). Critics argued that the scheme penalized middle-income Canadians who had saved for retirement. In the face of rising opposition, Martin dropped the plan.

      In October provincial finance ministers met with Martin and asked for more funding for health care, citing a federal budget surplus of some $3.5 billion. They argued that the provinces should be given a free hand to allocate money for health care without interference from the federal government and voiced concerns about entering partnerships, especially in light of a past $6.2 billion federal cut to health care.

      In Austria a reform of the pension insurance system was essentially intended to raise the retirement age. It was made easier, beginning in January, for individuals to qualify for a "flexible pension," a move that was designed to allow more people to remain partially employed instead of taking full retirement. Sweden, too, introduced incentives for workers to remain employed longer. In June the Rikstag (parliament) adopted a pension-reform bill that had been under discussion since 1994; the pensionable age would become flexible, with later retirement resulting in higher pensions based on lifetime income. At the time of retirement, the yearly pension entitlement would be calculated and would reflect the average life expectancy. A reform of the German pension system, adopted in late 1997, was scrapped in October by the new government of Gerhard Schröder. (See BIOGRAPHIES (Schroder, Gerhard ).)

      In The Netherlands significant changes were introduced in January for the protection of people with disabilities. Employers were given the option, at least in part, of insuring themselves outside the social security scheme against the risk of their employees' becoming incapacitated. A "general contribution" was still payable to the fund, however, essentially to ensure the funding of existing disability pensions.

      Expenditures were increased in Ireland for measures to support employment and reentry into the workforce. Finland revised the rules governing the granting of unemployment benefits to encourage unemployed persons to begin job training or retraining. Previously, anyone deciding to seek further education or training suffered substantial losses in benefits.

      A number of countries modernized their social protection systems to promote fairness and opportunity. New approaches, including new technology, were used to improve welfare delivery and to reach those who were entitled to benefits but were not receiving them. At the same time, recipients were reviewed for continued eligibility. In March the U.K. government published a Green Paper that advocated a reform of welfare based on a new contract between citizens and government. The Green Paper detailed a series of measures to be achieved over the next 10-20 years, including a reduction in the proportion of working-age people living in households without wage earners, a guaranteed adequate retirement income for all, more support from the tax and benefit systems to families with children, and clearer gateways for determining eligibility for all types of benefits. In France, where it is necessary to have contributed for at least 40 years and to have reached the official retirement age of 60 in order to be entitled to an old-age pension, a special preretirement allowance was created to guarantee a minimum monthly stipend for longtime contributors under the age of 60. The measure would address the situation in which a person who had started working early in life, had contributed for 40 years, and then became unemployed before the age of 60 was without an adequate income. In Belgium a social identity card was issued by mutual-benefit societies to all persons covered by social insurance to substantiate their rights to benefits. The introduction in Italy of a "social credit card" was discussed; the card would contain information such as the personal income and assets of the insured person and would make it possible to allocate benefits according to individual circumstances.

      In June the European Union social affairs ministers agreed to adopt a directive that would protect the supplementary pension rights of those people who were employed and self-employed and were moving within the EU. Pension rights would be preserved rather than transferred from one scheme to another; the cross-border payment of pensions would be guaranteed; and workers temporarily posted in another member state would remain affiliated with the scheme to which they had initially belonged.

      The Romanian government initiated a series of measures in response to economic restructuring and privatization programs, which had negative effects on social welfare. Counseling, job-placement, and occupational reclassification services were established in cases of mass firings. Special compensatory payments were granted in the form of a lump sum, the amount of which varied according to the level of unemployment in the region.

      Concerns about fund deficits, poor investment returns, and allegations of corruption led the Hungarian government to place its pension and health funds under more direct control. The funds previously had been supervised by two independent bodies. In January Hungary began implementing its new multilevel pension system, which comprised the mandatory social insurance pension (pay-as-you-go) scheme, new (privately funded) mandatory private pension funds, and voluntary pension funds. Estonia agreed to establish a similar system, which was likely to be implemented in January 2000. The Polish government announced that the introduction of a reformed pension system would be postponed. The new multilevel system would commence operations beginning April 1, 1999, instead of Jan. 1, 1999. The delay was due to parliamentary disagreements about the split in the flow of contributions between the existing state pension and the new system.

Industrialized Asia and the Pacific.
      Governments and program administrators in these regions streamlined welfare delivery and, at the same time, required welfare beneficiaries to assume greater personal responsibility. Beginning in July a new, simplified income-support payment was available to young people in Australia who were studying or looking for work. The new Youth Allowance replaced a number of existing payments. Those wishing to receive this payment needed to meet certain work or study requirements or participate in job-training programs. In New Zealand unemployment and illness benefits were replaced by a new community wage. The name change was designed to emphasize the focus on work requirements under the new program. Under a parallel administrative reform, the Income Support Service was merged with the Employment Service to create a new, one-stop agency that would address income-support needs and training needs and provide assistance in job searches. A new back-to-work child-care scheme was introduced in Singapore. Eligible mothers received a payment intended for child-care expenses so that they could find paid employment.

      "Double dipping" was brought to an end in Japan. Starting in April people aged 60 or older and out of the workforce were no longer able to receive both an unemployment benefit and an old-age pension. They were required, instead, to choose one or the other. South Korea strengthened its unemployment protection. Beginning in July the unemployment insurance program was extended to cover employers with at least 5 employees, whereas previously only companies with 10 or more employees had been covered. The minimum waiting period for payment of unemployment benefits was increased from 30 to 60 days, and the minimum benefit was increased from 50% to 70% of the minimum monthly wage.

Emerging and Less-Developed Countries.
      Emerging and less-developed countries facing problems of inadequate social security coverage and financial imbalances sought to use scarce resources in the most efficient ways. Tanzania's National Provident Fund was converted into a social insurance scheme in July. Owing to inflation, the fund had provided only meagre lump-sum benefits, which many people used up quickly and then were left without support. With benefits now being paid in the form of pensions, it was hoped that hardships could be avoided. Entitlements to Moroccan family allowances were checked thoroughly, and the issue of daily illness allowances was subjected to strict controls before any moneys were awarded. An identity booklet was issued in Equatorial Guinea to insured individuals and their families in order to facilitate access to services and social benefits and also to help prevent fraudulent benefit claims.

      In July Iran introduced co-payments for medical expenses to ensure a more efficient utilization of resources. Self-employed and voluntarily insured persons had to pay 25% of expenses for outpatient care and 10% of hospitalization costs.

      The Social Security System in the Philippines continued to be computerized. Menu-driven workstations were set up in shopping malls and other public places to give members easy access to information.

      The Latin-American countries continued to experiment with totally or partially privatized old-age pensions. In Bolivia, for example, pensioners were given new options concerning the payment of their pensions from private pension-fund administrators (AFPs). Contributions made to the system could be invested in an AFP-managed account, with pension payments depending on the performance of the fund, or accumulated savings could be used to purchase a fixed-amount life annuity from an approved insurance company.


Human Rights
      Major human rights issues that gained prominence during 1998 included the adoption of measures for more effective prevention and prosecution of war crimes, conflicts involving ethnic minorities pursuing greater autonomy and self-determination within their own countries, activities associated with the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and rising concern about human rights violations involving women.

War Crimes and the Punishment of Human Rights Violations.
      The overriding human rights issue of 1998 was the punishment of war crimes and crimes against humanity, particularly as a result of the increasing number of internal ethnic conflicts endangering minority civilian populations and producing the forced relocations of refugees on a massive scale. In Kosovo (a province of Serbia), Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo [Kinshasa]), and Rwanda, minority populations became primary military targets on a scale that suggested "ethnic cleansing" and genocide. Serbian military forces in Kosovo used martial law to maintain control of a region in which 90% of the inhabitants were ethnic Albanians, and conducted large-scale offensives against civilian towns and villages believed sympathetic to the Albanians' demand for greater autonomy. As a result, an estimated 700 civilians were killed and 250,000 others were forced to flee their homes, the majority of them civilian bystanders caught in the cross fire. In Congo (Kinshasa) a UN human rights team and independent observers accused the military forces of Pres. Laurent Kabila of having massacred scores of Hutu refugees who had fled Rwanda to avoid reprisals from their alleged 1994-95 participation in the genocide against the Tutsi.

      In July a new treaty was approved authorizing the creation of an International Criminal Court in The Hague to serve as a permanent UN tribunal prosecuting war crimes worldwide. Previously, the UN Security Council had established separate war crimes tribunals for individual conflicts, such as those in former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. This ad hoc approach had been widely criticized as often difficult to initiate and subject to political pressures. Rejecting the new measure were China, Israel, and the U.S., which objected to several of the treaty's core provisions, including the independent authority given to the tribunal's prosecutor.

      The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda sentenced Jean Kambanda, former prime minister of that country, to life imprisonment (the harshest penalty available) for having committed genocide by supporting and promoting the massacre of some 500,000 Tutsi when the Hutu briefly held power in 1994. Kambanda, who pleaded guilty to six charges of genocide, was the first person sentenced for the crime of genocide since World War II. Additional arrests and trials of alleged war criminals in former Yugoslavia also took place. Although indicted, former Bosnian president Radovan Karadzic and his principal military commander, Gen. Ratko Mladic, remained free; several important arrests, however, did take place, including the apprehension of Milorad Krnojelac, former commander of the notorious Foca prison camp. In December, while in the U.K., Augusto Pinochet, former president of Chile during a period that featured widespread arrests, disappearances, and torture of members of the political opposition, was made the subject of a criminal extradition request by the government of Spain for human rights abuses affecting Spanish citizens during his regime. Although this request was initially rejected by the British courts on the basis of Pinochet's diplomatic immunity and the principle that former heads of state cannot be prosecuted by other countries, this decision was overturned by the House of Lords appeal court. It found that immunity did not apply to perpetrators of massive human rights violations on the scale committed during the Pinochet regime, marking the first time that abuses other than those associated with wars or internal armed conflicts were found subject to criminal sanctions. Later in the month, however, the House of Lords voided the decision and scheduled a rehearing in January 1999.

The 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
      At UN headquarters in Geneva, where the 50th-anniversary celebration took place, representatives from a number of nations stressed universality—paying equal attention to the economic, social, and developmental side of the human rights equation—rather than focusing primarily on political and civil rights concerns.

      For the first time, Amnesty International designated U.S. human rights compliance its major annual campaign theme and identified a diverse range of problems requiring attention, including the broadening use of the death penalty and its discriminatory impact on the poor and people of colour, the continued application of the death penalty to juvenile offenders in violation of international standards, abusive treatment of prisoners in the criminal justice system, and failure to comply with provisions in the Refugee and Torture Conventions preventing the return of victims of torture and persecution to their countries of origin.

Human Rights Violations Involving Women.
      Considerable attention was given to the discriminatory treatment of females imposed under the extremist Muslim Taliban regime in Afghanistan. During a monitoring visit by a UN team, members of the delegation were arrested and briefly detained for taking unauthorized photographs. The team's report found a wide range of human rights violations, including pronouncements prohibiting women and girls from leaving their homes without accompaniment, requiring women to wear heavily veiled clothing, and denying females the right to attend school and to be employed outside the home. These edicts were enforced by armed members of the Ministry for the Propagation of Islamic Orders and the Discouragement of Islamic Prohibitions, informally referred to as the department of vice and virtue, which patrolled the streets and arrested and assaulted violators of the rules.

      A number of initiatives were aimed at documenting and ending the practice of forced prostitution and sex trafficking, especially in Southeast Asia. Illegal sex trafficking had been found rampant among Myanmar (Burmese) women and girls, many of whom were forced into prostitution and sex slavery in Thailand and, as a result, had a high incidence of HIV infection and AIDS.

Other Developments.
      Nigeria, which had suffered under one of the most repressive regimes in recent years, made an initial movement toward a more democratic government following the death in June of Gen. Sani Abacha; a potential successor, opposition leader Moshood Abiola, who had been imprisoned by Abacha after winning a 1993 presidential election, also died prior to being released. (See OBITUARIES (Abiola, Moshood Kashimawo Olawale ).) This left an aide to Abacha, Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar (see BIOGRAPHIES (Abubakar, Abdulsalam )), as president. Abubakar took some initial steps toward democratic reform by releasing some former political prisoners and promising to hold new elections in 1999.

      With a series of new detentions of political dissidents, China continued to be the focus of human rights concerns. A nine-day visit to China by U.S. Pres. Bill Clinton produced a major debate over whether the promotion of economic and political ties with Chinese leaders was a more effective method of producing improvements in human rights conditions than the adoption of more direct forms of confrontation and public criticism. As a result of Clinton's visit, Wang Dan and other well-known political prisoners were released, but toward year-end more dissidents were arrested.

      Facing severe economic difficulties, Indonesia replaced the longest-serving leader in Asia, President Suharto (see BIOGRAPHIES (Suharto )), who had been accused of major human rights violations during his regime, including the invasion of the Portuguese dependent territory of East Timor and suppression of the independence movement there. Several senior military officers—notably Lieut. Gen. Praboewo Subianto, director of the special forces unit known as Kopassus, which was implicated in numerous political kidnappings and disappearances during Suharto's regime—were called before a specially constituted Military Honor Council, which sought to improve the military's image by looking into past human rights violations. The council court-martialed 10 soldiers for kidnappings, beatings, and torture of civilians. A second group was also established, the privately constituted Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence, modeled after the "truth and reconciliation" commissions in Haiti and South Africa that documented and condemned past atrocities.

      In April former Cambodian leader Pol Pot died in captivity (see OBITUARIES (Pol Pot )); he had carried out a policy of widespread genocide against political opponents in an action widely known as "the killing fields." Hun Sen, who replaced him, was cited by a UN report as responsible for the murders of nearly 100 political opponents since his successful 1997 coup. The UN Security Council was asked to consider the possibility of establishing a third war crimes tribunal for Cambodia—similar to those established for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda—to investigate Pol Pot's genocide and prosecute those responsible. The newly created International Criminal Court would not have jurisdiction over past events and was authorized to deal only with crimes that occurred after the adoption of the treaty.

      Despite some signs of more effective action by its UN-created war crimes tribunal, including the issuance of 21 indictments and the beginning of several trials, Rwanda was widely condemned for carrying out public executions of 22 suspected war criminals among several thousands being held for their roles in the 1994 genocide. An additional 100 remained under death sentences imposed by Rwandan authorities without fair trials.

      There was a marked increase in Mexico of reports of torture, disappearances, and violence committed against civilians in the state of Chiapas, where indigenous Zapatistas demanded greater autonomy and political power. Human rights observers monitoring and reporting on these violations were barred from the region by the government and expelled from the country following massive demonstrations and police crackdowns in the aftermath of a massacre by paramilitary death squads in the town of Acteal. A large number of civilians, mostly women and children, were killed with weapons that reportedly came from a local police commander, who claimed he was acting under government orders.

      South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued its final report documenting the massive violations that occurred during the apartheid era. The Commission was widely praised for conducting a thorough investigation of past abuses and for mandating full disclosure by violators before granting them immunity from criminal prosecution.


▪ 1998


Benefits and Programs
      The financial viability of social protection programs continued to cause concern worldwide in 1997. The U.S. government began to revamp such programs as Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security, while Canada struggled with funding its health care system and delivering services in a timely manner. In Western Europe reforms were implemented in an effort to reduce rising expenditures on health care, old-age, and unemployment benefits, and countries in Central and Eastern Europe experimented with different welfare models, both public and private. In industrialized Asia and the Pacific, measures were taken to improve the delivery of social services and to place greater responsibility on benefit recipients. Nations in Latin America continued to privatize social security pensions, while emerging and less-developed countries in Africa and Asia made efforts to extend benefits and initiate reform.

North America.
      After introducing landmark welfare reform in 1996, the United States in 1997 moved to overhaul other social protection programs, including Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. Although lawmakers sidestepped comprehensive reforms in these areas, significant changes were made, debate was accelerated, and panels were established to study further action.

      Meanwhile, the new welfare system, which was not without problems and critics, officially took effect on July 1. Federal guarantees of cash grants to all eligible poor people were eliminated, and states were invested with broad authority and flexibility to move recipients from welfare rolls to jobs. As a result of the new reforms, the welfare caseload fell by more than one million in 1997 to under 11 million, including about 7 million children—a 26% decline since the peak year of 1994 and the lowest level in 25 years.

      Two major factors were cited in explaining the sharp reduction—a strong economy that created more jobs and the reform legislation that nudged recipients into those jobs. A White House report in May concluded that the economy played the biggest role in caseload reduction, but critics of reform contended that much of the decline resulted from people being forced off welfare rolls. Whatever the reason, the decline helped produce an unexpected windfall that eased the first-year impact of reform. Since the new block grants issued to states from Washington, D.C., were based on the caseloads each state had had in previous years, states received about $2.6 billion more from the federal government than they would have received on the basis of 1997 caseloads. With greater freedom to experiment and with added federal funds, states turned one-size-fits-all welfare assistance into a variety of programs.

      About one-half of the states offered one-time cash payments to help families through financial emergencies and to keep them from entering or returning to welfare. Kentucky and West Virginia extended relocation allowances so that welfare recipients from the jobless areas of Appalachia could work in cities in the region. Illinois earmarked $100 million for improving child care, and New Jersey created a $3.7 million transportation fund. At least 30 states experimented with allowing welfare recipients to keep more of their benefits after they secured jobs. Some experiments, however, ran into problems. A federal district court judge in Philadelphia ruled that Pennsylvania had acted illegally by paying new residents lower welfare benefits than it did to longtime residents. Although the decision applied only to Pennsylvania, it created a concern for at least 12 other states with similar laws.

      Wisconsin's ambitious program, which was initiated before passage of federal reform, ended cash assistance for virtually everyone on welfare and imposed strict work requirements. The plan, however, offered former welfare recipients substantial help in getting and keeping jobs and provided an average of $15,700 for every family on welfare. In addition, child care and health care were extended to all low-income families, thousands of community service jobs were created, and private industries were encouraged to provide work. The state's welfare rolls plummeted by more than 60% from their peak.

      Despite the varied efforts, however, fewer than one-half of the states met the initial October 1 federal deadline for reform standards—having at least one person working in 75% of all two-parent families. States had an easier time with a second rule that required them to have 25% of all welfare families in work activities. More than 30 states also failed to receive federal approval of new computer systems to track child- support cases. States that were unable to meet these standards faced a loss of some federal funds. Both the work rates and penalties were scheduled to rise annually until 2002, when states would have to have 50% of all welfare families and 90% of two-parent families working.

      When he signed the reform law on Aug. 22, 1996, Pres. Bill Clinton promised to "fix" those parts of the law that he disliked. Some "fixing" was accomplished in 1997. Clinton received assurances from Congress that all legal immigrants residing in the U.S. at the time the law was signed would be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which provided cash to the low-income aged and disabled. He also won a continuance of Medicaid coverage for disabled children who stood to lose their SSI benefits.

      The ultimate verdict on welfare reform, however, would not be in for years. In some high-poverty areas, efforts were hampered both by politics and by a lack of jobs and funds for support services. It was uncertain what would happen nationwide when the economy slowed, federal funding shrank, and more states reduced support services.

      Early in 1997 it appeared that the push for reform would target Social Security because of concern about the financial stability of the 62-year-old program, which in 1997 provided retirement income and survivor and disability benefits to 44 million people. In 1950, 16 workers paid payroll taxes to support each beneficiary of the program, but that ratio had since dwindled to about 3 to 1 and, with the population aging, by 2030 would shrink to 2 to 1. Experts predicted that the trust fund would be totally depleted by 2029. A 13-member Advisory Council on Social Security, however, issued a report that contradicted the experts, saying that the system did not face a massive crisis and that careful, sensible planning could fund it through the next 75 years. In what would be a basic change, however, panel members agreed that part of the Social Security taxes that had been invested exclusively in government bonds should be shifted into higher-earning private securities. Three different plans were offered for accomplishing this, including one that would give individuals a greater say in how their retirement money was invested, but the panel did not make a recommendation and postponed action pending further study.

      The annual cost-of-living increase for Social Security and SSI beneficiaries would be 2.1% in 1998, raising benefits for the average retiree to $765 a month from $749. An average couple who both received benefits would receive $1,288. The payroll tax rate paid by both employees and employers would remain unchanged at 6.2%, but the maximum earnings on which the tax was calculated would increase to $68,400 from $65,400. To finance Medicare, workers and employers would each pay an additional 1.45% of their earnings.

      Another ailing area in which broad overhaul was postponed in favour of short-term fixes was health care—Medicaid for the poor and Medicare for the elderly. As part of the balanced budget bill, Congress made several important changes to Medicare, including expansion of health care plan options and the addition of preventive health care coverage. Lawmakers, however, avoided the toughest, most explosive Medicare issue—the program's long-term-funding problems. Instead, a bipartisan commission was created to study structural and financial issues, including raising the eligibility age and making seniors contribute more. The balanced budget package greatly expanded states' roles in administering Medicaid programs but did not convert Medicaid into a block grant. Spurred by welfare changes that left many former recipients without health coverage when they moved to jobs, states embarked on a major expansion of Medicaid that would eventually provide free or low-cost health care to at least one-half of the 10 million uninsured children in the U.S. Despite cuts in federal funding, Medicaid remained the nation's largest health insurer for children and for those needing maternity and nursing-home care.

      While social protection programs were changing, the ranks of poor Americans needing assistance did not. The Census Bureau reported that the number (36.5 million) and percentage (13.7%) of people living below the poverty line ($16,036 for a family of four) in 1996 remained virtually unchanged from the previous year.

      In Canada the national health care system, popularly referred to as "medicare," came under scrutiny by many who felt that the program was underfunded, that the waiting period for hospital care (averaging about 11 weeks) was unacceptable, and that, as a result, quality care was compromised. About 17,000 more patients were waiting for hospital treatment in 1997 than in 1996, and medical intervention took about 15% longer than what physicians considered to be clinically reasonable. Some proposed the introduction of a two-tier health plan, but newly appointed Health Minister Allan Rock dismissed such a notion. He believed that the current system was adequately funded, even though transfer payments to the provinces were significantly reduced. He acknowledged that the system had some problems, but he believed that the introduction of another plan would only complicate matters. Rock reiterated the government's commitment to expanding the system through national home care and pharmacare programs and its promise, made during the June election, not to institute $700 million of planned cuts to the Canada Health and Social Transfer in 1998-99 and $1.4 billion the following fiscal year.

Western Europe.
      High unemployment and an aging population continued to generate concern about the financial stability of Western Europe's social security programs. ) (Europe's Crumbling Social Network )In Spain, where unemployment hovered around 22%, the entire social protection system was overhauled, and business and labour leaders reached agreement on reforms that would foster the hiring of permanent, rather than part-time, employees. Social security benefits would be financed through payroll deductions, whereas other benefits would be paid for through general taxation. In addition, pensions would be calculated on the basis of the last 15 years rather than the last 8 years of a worker's base salary.

      Rising costs in health care led to reform in Austria, where the funding system for hospitals was completely redesigned. Payments made by the social insurance scheme for hospital treatment would be subject to an annual cap linked to future contributions. In addition, a new billing system was introduced whereby reimbursement would be based on the diagnosis rather than the type of hospital. A uniform hospital plan was also adopted, which led to the closing of certain hospitals or departments within them.

      In Germany the third stage of the health care reform process came into effect in July. Although draft legislation initially had dropped certain items approved for reimbursement in the catalog of covered items, these proposals were withdrawn following heated public protest. In the end, co-payments were raised and elements were introduced that previously had been found only in private health insurance schemes. For example, refunds would be made to those who had contributed to the plan but had not made claims for benefits. Participants in the scheme were also given the opportunity to reduce the amount of their premiums, but in doing so they would increase their own costs for treatment.

      In Norway the national insurance benefit regulations were revised. Beginning in January pensioners between the ages of 67 and 70 who had an income from employment in addition to a pension had their pensions reduced, but by less than in previous years. Starting in May, pensioners with employed spouses had their national insurance benefits reduced.

      Physicians in France signed "loyalty contracts." Under the program individuals could select a general practitioner who had signed an agreement with the social security health fund stating that fees would be limited to approved charges. In February legislation was passed establishing private retirement savings funds. Following the installation of Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin ) (Jospin, Lionel ), however, regulations to implement the funds were not enacted as planned. The new government viewed the private funds as undermining the mandatory pay-as-you-go systems and declared that the legislation would be revised.

      Political change in the United Kingdom also led to the cancellation of reforms sponsored by the outgoing Conservative government. Prime Minister Tony Blair's ) (Blair, Tony )new Labour government voided a new formula that would have reduced housing benefits by essentially lowering the housing standards on which benefits were calculated. The new government also introduced a bill that would modernize welfare delivery and launched programs that would help single parents and disabled people find work.

      In Switzerland cuts were made in daily unemployment allowances, and the waiting period for unemployment benefits was extended by one day for short-time workers (those compelled to reduce working hours temporarily). Measures were taken to encourage early retirement to help ease unemployment. A mandatory minimum occupational pension provision was also introduced for the unemployed. Similarly, in Denmark pension coverage was made available—under the Danish Labour Market Supplementary Pension Scheme—to people during breaks in their job history in the labour market. The provision would help relieve the large social disparities between pensioners with an extensive working career and those who did not have the opportunity to work most of their lives. Finland experimented with shorter working hours to tackle the unemployment problem and implemented pilot projects in both the private and public sectors. To address the problem of unemployment in Iceland, a national labour market authority was created that would conduct nationwide job placement through a centralized system.

Central and Eastern Europe.
      A two-tier mandatory pension system, effective for those entering the labour force in 1998, was created in Hungary. While 25% of social security contributions would be paid to pension funds managed by private-sector companies, the remaining 75% would continue to go to the social security agency. Voluntary contributions would form a third tier of the system. In Poland reform legislation that laid the foundation for a similar system was approved by the lower house of the Sejm (parliament).

      The Romanian government introduced a draft law intended to establish a single public pension and social security system guaranteed by the state. The health care system also would be reformed. One proposal was that employees and employers would be required to contribute to the cost of medical services and that special funds would be created to administer these contributions.

      A new system of mandatory health insurance was implemented in Lithuania. Under the plan a separate health insurance fund was responsible both for compensating patients, which had been done previously by the social insurance fund, and for providing health care services previously financed from state and local budgets.

Industrialized Asia and the Pacific.
      The federal government in Australia created a new service-delivery agency. The various government departments would focus on policy development and would contract the agency to deliver services such as benefit payments.

      Beginning in 1997 customized service was available to all income-support clients in New Zealand. This encompassed personalized, one-to-one contact for beneficiaries and ensured that they saw the same customer-service officer for all income-support issues. The work test (requiring an active search for employment) was extended to single parents, widowed beneficiaries, and spouses of the unemployed, and annual interviews were introduced to encourage beneficiaries to move toward employment. Concern over the costs of maintaining the existing social security system led the government to propose the establishment of a mandatory retirement-savings scheme.

      In Japan individuals were made to bear a greater share of expenditures for health care. Contributions to health insurance were augmented and larger co-payments demanded. Major worker unrest in South Korea occurred following a change in the labour law that would have permitted companies to dismiss employees more easily, introduce variations from the standard working hours, and replace striking employees with temporary workers.

Emerging and Less-Developed Countries.
      In Mexico private pension funds began operations in July, when rules on investments were published. In Argentina and Chile the constant switching of private pension funds between providers was considered a problem because it generated large administrative and marketing costs. Argentina proposed making transfers more complicated, whereas Chile suggested charging lower transfer fees to members who stayed with funds for a specified time. Peru unveiled an overhauled health care system that allowed for the establishment of health plans and programs outside both the social health system and the state health service.

      Although many countries in Africa and Asia were plagued by problems of financial imbalances and inadequate coverage, in certain places benefits were increased and some reforms were proposed and implemented. More than seven million people in Egypt benefited from increases in old-age, disability, and survivors pensions, and in Tunisia benefits for private-sector employees were increased in an effort to equalize them with those received by workers in the public sector. India introduced a new medical insurance policy for the poor. It was structured as a social rather than a business venture, with premiums set at a low level. A Pakistani task force on pension funds proposed that the government consider an ambitious three-phase expansion in coverage of the existing scheme. The Philippines started to set up a computerized identification system to facilitate social welfare benefit claims.


      During 1997 greater efforts were made both to arrest and convict war criminals in former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and to adopt an international agreement banning the manufacture and use of land mines. In addition, human rights issues emerged when Hong Kong reverted to Chinese control ) (Hong Kong's Return to China )and when Irish Pres. Mary Robinson was appointed UN high commissioner for human rights. Special attention also was given to the activities of "truth commissions" in South Africa and Haiti, Switzerland's alleged financial dealings with the Nazis during the Holocaust Sidebar), (Swiss Banks in Disarray ) continued problems with minority rights and forced migrations of refugees in Turkey, and abuses taking place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo [Kinshasa]). New concerns were raised about dealing with corporations and other private groups that benefited from or participated in major human rights abuses and the differing perceptions of human rights in less-developed and industrialized countries.

      War Crimes and the Punishment of Human Rights Violations. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, located in The Hague, convicted a Bosnian Croat, Drazen Erdemovic, who pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment for his role in the 1995 massacre of unarmed Muslims in northeastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnian Serb Dusan Tadic was later found guilty on 11 counts of atrocities (5 war crimes and 6 against humanity) and was sentenced to 20 years in jail. In Düsseldorf, Ger., where a court was relieving the overburdened tribunal in The Hague, another Bosnian Serb, Nikola Jorgic, was sentenced to life in prison on 11 counts of genocide and 30 lesser counts of murder. Although NATO-led military forces monitoring implementation of the Dayton peace accords had previously declined to play a role in war-crimes prosecution for fear of jeopardizing the fragile peace agreement in Bosnia, they launched a more aggressive stance and arrested 76 criminals who had been previously indicted for war crimes. In other NATO actions Milan Kovacevic was arrested and Simo Drljaca was shot dead in July while resisting arrest in the Prijedor area; an additional 10 war criminals were later apprehended.

      The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda moved much more slowly, with 21 persons indicted and arrested and 8 other suspects taken into custody. Three trials were under way, but no convictions were made at the international level, which resulted in major criticism of the effectiveness of the tribunal. The government of Rwanda, operating under its own specially enacted law on genocide, arrested thousands accused of war crimes and put a number of them on trial. The government itself, however, was accused of human rights abuses as a result of the overcrowded and abusive conditions in the prisons, where scores of detainees awaiting trial died.

      South Africa and Haiti developed "truth commissions" to deal with human rights violations committed by previous regimes. The primary goal of these bodies was to bring the full facts of past atrocities to light, rather than to punish individual violators. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, however, was criticized for granting amnesty too easily. Massive public demonstrations occurred in August after two men who arranged the 1993 Easter Sunday murder of Chris Hani (a chief lieutenant to Nelson Mandela) applied for amnesty in return for their public confessions.

      The dual issues of war crimes and accountability developed over the role played by Swiss banks in laundering gold and other assets confiscated from those arrested and killed by the Nazis during World War II. Special efforts were being made to identify those victims whose assets had been confiscated and transferred to Swiss banks, and the Swiss government helped to establish special funds to reimburse Holocaust survivors, their relatives, and other victims of human rights violations. The first checks for $400 (from a fund unrelated to the dormant bank accounts) were presented to 80 Holocaust survivors in November.

      Land Mine Prohibition. In September about 90 nations adopted the text of a proposed treaty banning the manufacture and use of antipersonnel mines by the end of the century. The formal signing of the treaty took place in December, with individual nations ratifying it thereafter. The U.S. government declined to approve the draft, citing concerns about the security of U.S. troops along the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, although the U.S. pledged to end use of the weapon by 2003 at all sites except in Korea.

      Minority Rights and Refugee Issues. Minority rights issues emerged in the Congo (Kinshasa), where Pres. Laurent Kabila ) (Kabila, Laurent Desire ) refused to allow a UN team to investigate complaints that his rebel forces had massacred large numbers of Rwandan Hutu refugees during their seven-month campaign to oust dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. (See OBITUARIES. (Mobutu Sese Seko Koko Ngbendu wa za Banga )) Some of the executed Hutu had been involved in the slaughter of up to 500,000 Tutsi in 1994.

      The Turkish government engaged in a major campaign against rebel Kurds, including a number of military incursions aimed at rebel strongholds inside Iraq and highly repressive measures against political parties and human rights groups representing Kurdish interests. In Myanmar (Burma) forced labour, rape, disappearances, and torture became hallmarks of the ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council's efforts to end independence attempts by Mon, Rohingya, and Karen minorities (among others). In The Sudan the militant Islamic regime used a minority insurrection on the southern frontier as a justification for continuing repression and human rights violations. All-party talks were convened for the first time in Northern Ireland in an effort to resolve that region's long-standing religious conflict, despite renewed acts of terrorism designed to prevent the peace process from taking place.

      Major civilian massacres took place in Algiers and other cities in Algeria, resulting in tens of thousands of casualties. Terrorism and the killing of civilians had erupted in 1992 after the military-backed government annulled the second round of parliamentary elections because it seemed likely that the Islamic Salvation Front would gain political control.

      The Israeli peace settlement process with the newly installed Palestinian authorities ground to a halt owing to Israel's policy of expanding Jewish settlements in Palestinian territory and the Palestine Liberation Organization's inability to control and prevent violent protests and acts of terrorism. Disputes between the Indian government and Kashmir heated up.

      New High Commissioner for Human Rights. Robinson, a long-time human rights advocate, was named high commissioner for human rights by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, replacing the largely ineffectual and widely criticized José Ayala Lasso. Robinson was the first head of state to visit Rwanda after the genocide there, the first to visit Somalia during its 1992 famine, and the first to attend the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

      Hong Kong's Return to China. One of the most dramatic events with major human rights implications was the July 1 return of Hong Kong to the jurisdiction of China. Major concerns were voiced in the period leading up to the takeover that emerging democratic institutions, including a locally elected legislature and vocal human rights advocates and organizations, would be placed in jeopardy under China's communist government. Although some protests were allowed, China appointed its own legislative body and executive and posted military troops in the territory to establish control.

      Other Issues. The role that Swiss banks played in providing economic assistance to the Nazi regime during the Holocaust brought attention to the question of corporate and private responsibility for human rights violations. Traditionally, human rights had focused on the actions (or inactions) of governments and did not attempt to reach the issue of the responsibility of private entities. Criticism, however, was beginning to be directed against corporations, such as large international oil companies like Shell, TOTAL, and UNICAL, which had commercial interests in countries that engaged in gross human rights violations—such as Nigeria, Myanmar, and Iran. Initiatives were taken to allow human rights enforcement efforts to reach private individuals and paramilitary groups, whose connections with government were too far removed to allow them to be covered by traditional human rights laws. In one notable example, a lawsuit was filed in the U.S. seeking to establish financial liability for corporations that gained economic benefit from forced-labour practices in Myanmar.

      The so-called North-South debate over human rights focused on the issue of whether the emphasis that Western democracies placed on civil and political rights was appropriate in less-developed countries that preferred to emphasize economic-development concerns. The questions needing resolution were twofold: Were the two approaches compatible, and could a common ground exist that did not give exclusive priority to one over the other.

      In late December the Egyptian Supreme Administrative Court upheld that country's 1996 ban on female circumcision, ending months of contention between human-rights groups and Islamic fundamentalists.

      See also Insurance; (Business and Industry Review ) Education ; Health and Disease .

      This article updates social service.

▪ 1997


Benefits and Programs
      A prevailing concern among countries in 1996 was the financial stability of their social protection programs. The U.S. overhauled its welfare system, and Canada dealt with the repercussions following a substantial cut in benefits in 1995. In Western Europe a variety of austerity measures were either taken or heatedly debated, while countries in Central and Eastern Europe experimented with ways to ensure that large segments of the population would not fall below the poverty line. In industrialized Asia and the Pacific, an effort was made to increase support to families. Some emerging and less-developed countries introduced reforms, but inadequate social security coverage and financial imbalances persisted for many of them.

North America.
      The United States entered a new era in social policy in 1996 by enacting historic legislation that changed the philosophy as well as the structure of protection for the needy. After 61 years under a welfare system in which the federal government had guaranteed cash assistance to the poor for an indefinite period, welfare policy was revised to put new emphasis and reliance on the states while stressing individual self-sufficiency and the initiation or resumption of work among beneficiaries. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, the official name of welfare reform, was passed by Congress in August. Pres. Bill Clinton, who twice before had vetoed Republican-sponsored reform bills, signed the measure despite deep divisions within his administration. The president called the act "far from perfect" but pointed out that it ended "welfare as we know it."

      The new law, which took effect on Oct. 1, 1996, gave states broad authority over the core federal cash-assistance program—Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC)—and also over food stamps and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for the elderly and disadvantaged poor. The federal government would end entitlement programs that guaranteed welfare checks to all eligible low-income mothers and children, a practice that was established during the New Deal presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Instead, Washington would send states predetermined lump sums or block grants, based mainly on each state's welfare expenditures between 1992 and 1994.

      While states would assume near-total control over establishing rules for eligibility and benefits, they were instructed to work within the new federal guidelines that required able-bodied welfare recipients to find work within two years after the state program took effect in order to prevent a loss of benefits and that limited recipients to five years of benefits over their lifetime. About one-half of all AFDC recipients received benefits for five years or longer. States could, however, exempt up to 20% of their caseloads from the five-year time limit for reasons of hardship. The law also created a comprehensive child-support system, required unmarried teenage parents on welfare to live at home and stay in school, and provided an additional $4 billion in child-care funds for welfare parents who were required to work.

      Other provisions of the bill stipulated that:

      Cash aid and food stamps would be denied to anyone convicted of felony drug charges, although that person's family could still receive benefits.

      Adults between the ages of 18 and 50 who did not have children would be limited to receiving three months of food stamps over three years unless they were working. If they were laid off, they would be eligible for an additional three-month supply.

      Food stamps, SSI, and a variety of other low-income federal social services would be denied to legal immigrants who were not citizens.

      Single mothers on welfare who refused to cooperate in identifying the fathers of their children could lose at least one-fourth of their benefits. Improvements would be made in tracking and prosecuting parents who did not pay court-ordered child support.

      The new approach would save an estimated $55 billion over the next six years, mostly by reducing food-stamp payments and cutting benefits to legal immigrants. Advocates for the poor, who maintained that the changes would dramatically hurt states, localities, and the poor, were planning to mount legal challenges to state programs. The Urban Institute estimated that nearly 4.9 million children would be dropped from welfare rolls under the law by the year 2005 and 1.1 million would be pushed into poverty.

      At the end of 1995, 12.8 million persons received AFDC benefits, two-thirds of them children. The number was down 1.3 million, or 9%, from the total in January 1993; 42 states showed declines in welfare rolls over that period. Food stamps were issued to 26 million persons, while SSI was given to 6.5 million others.

      One-half of the children on the welfare rolls were born out of wedlock, including 20% born to mothers under 21. Of the recipients, 38% were white, 37% African-American, 19% Hispanic, and 5% noncitizens. The federal share of AFDC benefits in 1995 was $22 billion.

      States had until July 1, 1997, to submit their plans for administering welfare. More than 40 states had been experimenting with welfare ideas under waivers granted by the federal government. Some of the state programs rejected entitlements in favour of work and job training; others required teenage mothers on welfare to live at home and stay in school or reduced assistance for mothers who had additional out-of-wedlock births while on welfare. Most of these experiments would continue regardless of the new federal law.

      While most legal immigrants would lose food stamps and a variety of other federal assistance under the welfare bill, regulations that would have limited their access to public schools and federally funded HIV and AIDS treatment were dropped from an immigration bill passed in 1996. Instead, that measure concentrated on increasing the Border Patrol and other enforcement efforts to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the U.S.

      Also abandoned in the face of strong Democratic opposition and a veto threat by Clinton was a Republican-backed overhaul of Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor. That legislation would have put Medicaid on the same path as welfare by ending the federal guarantee of coverage and turning control of Medicaid over to the states.

      The welfare-reform legislation did, however, make some changes in Medicaid. States were permitted to deny Medicaid to adults who were dropped from welfare rolls because they did not meet work requirements, and states could decide whether to deny Medicaid coverage to legal immigrants.

      In another area of health care, Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Described as the most significant expansion of health care access in more than 30 years, the law guaranteed continued health insurance coverage for 25 million workers if they lost or left their jobs. Previously, workers lost coverage if they left their jobs.

      After a lengthy debate Congress also passed the first minimum-wage-increase legislation since 1989. The minimum rose from $4.25 to $4.75 on Oct. 1, 1996, and was scheduled to increase an additional 40 cents on Sept. 1, 1997.

      The hike came as the inflation-adjusted value of the minimum wage approached a 40-year low. Supporters complained that the increase was only a partial step in making up lost ground, while opponents contended that the raise would destroy thousands of low-wage jobs and thus hurt the people it was intending to help.

      About 10 million workers, 5.3% of the total workforce, received the minimum wage, down from an all-time high of over 15% in the early 1980s. Of the 10 million, 46% were over 25 years old, and most of the rest were single and under 25.

      Persons on Social Security also would receive more money. Congress voted to increase the earnings limit—the amount that beneficiaries aged 65-69 who held jobs could earn without losing any of their benefits. Earnings had been capped at $11,520 (indexed for inflation); for every $3 earned above that, a recipient lost $1 of benefits. Under the changes the threshold would increase gradually to $30,000 over seven years. This would affect about 800,000 beneficiaries, according to the Social Security administration, and cost an estimated $5.6 billion over seven years.

      The 44 million retirees who received Social Security would receive a 2.9% cost-of-living raise, effective January 1997, the largest since 1992. The increase would boost the average retirement check from $724 to $745 a month. The maximum earnings from which Social Security tax was deducted would rise from $62,700 to $65,400 in 1997. The tax was 12.4%, split equally between employees and employers. An additional 2.9% Medicare tax, also split evenly, was levied on all wages.

      The Census Bureau reported in September that in 1995, for the first time in six years, household income had risen and that the number of Americans living below the poverty line had fallen for the second year in a row. The median household income increased to $34,076, up 2.7% from 1994 after adjusting for inflation. The number of people living in poverty declined to 36.4 million, or 13.8% of the population—down from 38 million and 14.5% in 1994.

      The poverty rate for African-Americans (30.3%) was the lowest since the Census Bureau began collecting data in 1966. The number of children living in poverty fell from 15.3 million to 14.7 million, but they remained the age group most likely to be poor.

      Two factors were generally credited for the rise in incomes—more household members working more hours and increases in other kinds of income such as Social Security, pensions, interest, and dividends. In Canada the province of British Columbia reinstated a controversial residency requirement for welfare recipients, and Ontario boasted about reducing its welfare rolls to 1.2 million after implementing (October 1995) a 21.6% cut in social-assistance benefits for all but the elderly and permanently disabled. As a result, community workers and food banks reported dire conditions for those who received cuts in aid and could no longer afford food or shelter.

Western Europe.
      Measures especially targeted at health care were taken to improve the financial stability of various social security programs. A number of governments introduced austerity programs, elements of which were met with open hostility.

      In the United Kingdom the government launched a major campaign aimed at preventing social security fraud as a means of ensuring the viability of the welfare program. France embarked on major health care reform and introduced new regulations for social security financing to deal with a deficit that was judged unacceptable. To control health expenditures, the reform limited patients' freedom to bypass general practitioners and consult directly with specialists or receive diagnostic tests. Patients received a health-record booklet that was to be presented upon treatment. Pressure was put on doctors to cut back both on the amounts of medications that they prescribed and on the use of the more expensive types. The hospitalization system was also revised to strengthen coordination between public- and private-sector facilities. Several short-term emergency financial measures were taken to reduce the deficit, including the introduction of a special tax levied on employer contributions for coordinating benefits and the creation of a special body to manage the refinancing of the social security debt.

      The German government introduced reform legislation in its "Program for Increased Growth and Employment," which was heatedly debated throughout the country in the fall of 1996. Two proposals were particularly controversial. Sick-leave pay would be reduced from 100% to 80% of regular wages during the first six weeks of a worker's absence, and after six weeks the benefit paid would be reduced by 10%. Protests by workers caused many German employers to continue to pay 100%. The second measure dealt with a sooner-than-expected increase in the retirement age needed for both men and women to be eligible for social security. Both would be required to work until age 65, men starting in 2002 instead of 2007 and women beginning in 2005 rather than 2017.

      Austria's main political parties agreed on an austerity package to raise taxes, cut spending on civil services, and lower welfare benefits for students, the unemployed, and people in need of permanent care. To deal with increasing health-insurance deficits, reductions in sick-leave pay were discussed.

      The Netherlands privatized most benefits regarding sickness, making employers responsible for continued wage payments, including 70% of a sick worker's wages, which would be payable for a period of up to 52 weeks. The Netherlands also replaced their survivors' benefits program with a new scheme that required tighter eligibility rules and an income threshold. Various proposals were made throughout the year to improve the financial equilibrium of the public old-age pension program, including substantially higher contributions and contributions based on occupation.

      In Sweden changes in social security health insurance were proposed for January 1997. Among other measures, the government proposed to limit the amount of sick-leave pay that employers could recover from the government.

      In Finland agreement was reached in April on reforming unemployment benefits. The government estimated that reform was necessary to eliminate those structures of the unemployment system that undermined the will to work. Savings were to be achieved by eliminating automatic cost-of-living increases in 1997-99 and by altering the qualifying conditions for the receipt of benefits. In January the mandatory employers' earnings-related pension plan underwent changes that encouraged employees to remain working until age 65.

      Social security was also a major topic in Swiss public debate throughout 1996. Strong controversy arose in relation to old-age pensions. There was debate over whether the country should move from a system of universal social insurance to means testing and private provision.

Central and Eastern Europe.
      As countries continued to face economic problems, they reformed their social security systems and experimented with various ways of maintaining minimum standards of living. Old-age pensions and unemployment benefits were the most pressing problems.

      Despite the political will to introduce private pensions, the Russian government experienced difficulties in its efforts to promote occupational pensions, mainly owing to lack of public trust in the viability of the existing private funds, the absence of a formal law regulating private pensions, and resistance by older workers who strongly favoured a state system.

      Members of the Polish Sejm (parliament) reached agreement on social security reform but debated the extent to which old-age pensions should be privatized. In July in Slovakia it became possible to establish supplementary pension funds through collective agreements. Provision was made for employee and employer contributions, and a minimum membership of 100,000 was fixed for a fund to be registered.

      New arrangements were made for compulsory unemployment insurance in Latvia. An independent Employment Fund to manage unemployment insurance was formed. Benefit levels were established on the basis of previous salary and length of service.

Industrialized Asia and the Pacific.
      Support to families was high on the agenda in 1996. In February a new maternity allowance was introduced in Australia to assist families with the extra costs incurred at the time of birth. The allowance, in the form of a lump-sum payment, was designed to replace income lost when a mother left the workforce. Australia also implemented changes that gave caregivers better access to financial support.

      In Japan new legislation was implemented that made it mandatory for employers to grant a maximum family-care leave of three consecutive months to male and female employees. Employers were also prohibited from dismissing employees who took such leave. New Zealand introduced administrative changes, altering the timetable when benefits were paid to better serve beneficiaries and make welfare payments less visible to recipients' neighbours and friends. With only voluntary employer-sponsored retirement plans, the government in Hong Kong proposed the introduction of a compulsory retirement benefit system that would have far-reaching initial and long-term costs for employers.

Emerging and Less-Developed Countries.
      As many nations faced inadequate social security coverage and financial imbalances, a number of reforms were implemented.

      Mexico and Uruguay followed the path taken in recent years by other Latin-American countries, where social security pensions were totally or partially privatized. In April Uruguay implemented a system whereby residents under age 40 with an income exceeding a specified amount would be required to put one-half of their social security pension contribution into a personal account. The accounts would be managed by six private-sector funds. In Mexico the Chamber of Deputies approved the establishment of individual worker pension accounts that would be managed by private-sector administrators.

      Argentina reformed its industrial accident system. Starting in March, employers were required to either take out an industrial accident insurance policy for employees or provide them with company-sponsored insurance.

      Social security reform in Brazil was stalled owing to a legal dispute over a vote in the legislature on reform legislation. Discussions, however, continued throughout the year.

      An important development in Africa was the creation in July of the Inter-African Conference of Social Welfare Institutions, a monitoring and technical-support organization with authority over countries that use the CFA franc as their currency. South Africa introduced legislation to improve the accountability of managed pension funds and launched welfare programs targeting particularly vulnerable groups, such as unemployed women with young children.

      In Tunisia the amalgamation of two separate social security schemes for those self-employed in agriculture and industry was used to introduce new regulations that increased the number of people covered. In addition, a provision providing compensation for damages resulting from work injury and occupational diseases was extended to include employees in the public sector.

      The central government of China organized a national audit of pension and unemployment funds and continued to work on the legal framework for social insurance that would cover all urban employees by the year 2000.


      Major human rights issues that emerged during 1996 included growing concerns over the status and rights of minority groups; self-determination and autonomy in such regions as Rwanda and Burundi, China (Tibet), Turkey (the Kurds), and the republics of the former Soviet Union; problems associated with forced migration; the status and treatment of an ever-increasing number of refugees; the status and treatment of women; economic and social rights; and the rights of development. Problems of special significance were also reported in Burundi, China, Turkey, Nigeria, and Chechnya.

Ethnic Conflict in Burundi.
      Escalating ethnic conflicts between the minority Tutsi and majority Hutu populations in Burundi mirrored similar difficulties in Rwanda and threatened to result in comparable horrendous practices. The UN Special Rapporteur for Burundi reported that 800 civilians and 900 soldiers were being killed each month, with many thousands more forced to flee their communities as refugees or internally displaced persons. Many executions took place in reprisal for massacres of the Tutsi during a 1994 Hutu uprising. These problems were compounded by the continuing presence in Burundi of large numbers of Hutu refugees, who were fleeing ethnic strife in Rwanda. The international community responded with a series of monitoring and diplomatic missions and threatened to extend to Burundi the mandate of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. By year's end the Hutu refugee camps in Burundi had been closed.

Human Rights Violations in China.
       China became the focus of considerable international attention following the UN Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in September 1995. Activities associated with the planning and convening of the conference highlighted continuing major human rights violations involving repression of dissidents and autocratic control and occupation of Tibet.

      Shortly after the conference, Human Rights Watch revealed that many government-operated orphanages treated children cruelly and denied them proper medical care, which resulted in death rates of more than 25% in many facilities.

      These problems were among those cited by the U.S. and other Western nations in 1996 as a basis for seeking a resolution from the UN Commission on Human Rights condemning the Chinese government's human rights record. For the second straight year the resolution failed to pass by a narrow margin.

      The U.S. government also failed in its attempt to link China's human rights performance to the granting of most-favoured-nation (MFN) status. Although the administration initially sought to obtain human rights concessions from China before renewing MFN status, the bulk of these demands were dropped when faced with Chinese intransigence and economic pressures. This dramatized the difficulty of applying human rights standards in situations of apparent conflict with other political, economic, and security considerations.

      Throughout the year the Chinese government continued its crackdown on dissidents, arresting prominent leaders and threatening others with criminal prosecution. In October Wang Dan, student leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy movement, was charged with a capital offense and sentenced to 11 years in prison, while Liu Xiaobo was sentenced without trial to three years in a labour camp.

      China's scheduled assumption in July 1997 of jurisdiction over Hong Kong also raised concerns. The Chinese government established its own ruling body to replace Hong Kong's elected Legislative Council, threatened to establish an appellate body to review judicial decisions, and opted to resurrect a number of repressive laws used by the British during colonial times.

Persecution of the Kurds in Turkey.
      The treatment of the Kurdish community by the government of Turkey remained one of the most significant violations of human rights receiving international attention. Facing terrorism and armed rebellion by one of the Kurdish factions, Turkish forces destroyed Kurdish towns and persecuted Kurdish political parties and leaders. Among those affected were elected members of the parliament representing Kurdish areas, scholars whose works promoted Kurdish national identity, medical personnel providing care to Kurdish victims of torture, and members of human rights groups publicizing the atrocities.

      In reaction to these policies, the European Tariff Union delayed approval of Turkey's entry into the union. Complaints were filed before the European Human Rights Commission and Court, and U.S. organizations questioned the desirability of selling U.S. military equipment that would be used to bomb Kurdish villages.

Executions in Nigeria.
      The military government in Nigeria continued to violate human rights on a major scale, particularly in the Ogoniland region. Following the 1995 execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other leaders of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People on charges of treason, other leaders and sympathizers of the group were arrested and detained after demonstrations in January 1996 and again in March and April.

Threats to Civilians in Chechnya.
      In Chechnya the rights and safety of civilians under the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law were violated on numerous occasions by both Russian military and rebel secessionist forces. In January Chechen rebels took 2,000 civilians hostage in neighbouring Dagestan and another 1,000 from a hospital in Kizlyar. The Russian army repeatedly bombarded civilian targets with massive and indiscriminate aerial and artillery attacks. The situation in Chechnya, along with similar atrocities committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Turkey, demonstrated an increasing threat to civilians.

Prosecuting War Crimes and Other Major Human Rights Violations.
      International criminal tribunals were established by the UN in 1994 to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity resulting from ethnic conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Rwanda. A total of 52 criminal indictments were handed down for Bosnia, while 21 were prepared for Rwanda. The trial of Dusan Tadic, accused of having murdered Bosnian Muslim civilians, was begun, while the trial of Jean-Paul Akayesu, the former mayor of Taba, Rwanda, accused of having abetted the massacre of some 2,000 Tutsi in his village, was rescheduled in November for Jan. 9, 1997. At the end of his term in office, Richard Goldstone, chief prosecutor of the tribunals, noted that political pressures associated with the Dayton (Ohio) peace accords made it difficult to extend the court's jurisdiction to some of the most prominent war criminals. Bosnian Serb Pres. Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic had not been arrested or prosecuted for fear of jeopardizing the delicate political balance created by the peace settlement. Both the Bosnian and Rwandan tribunals also had to struggle with inadequate budgetary support from the UN.

      One approach that gained support was the establishment of a permanent international criminal tribunal that would be vested with ongoing authority and financial support and have jurisdiction over a wider range of violations of international law.

Refugees and Forced Migrations.
      Problems associated with forced migrations and the treatment of refugees increased dramatically. Massive numbers of refugees were forced from their homelands as a result of armed conflicts and very real threats of ethnic slaughter. The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimated that there were approximately 14.5 million refugees and 30 million internally displaced persons as of November 1995, some 15 times the number in 1975.

      War-ravaged Bosnia and Herzegovina, Rwanda, and Burundi were prime examples of this phenomenon. During 1996 major migrations caused by ethnic conflicts took place in Burundi and Iraq, spilling over into neighbouring nations, such as Zaire, where large numbers of refugees were temporarily maintained. In addition, problems bred from past mass migrations caused new difficulties in Hong Kong, where thousands of Vietnamese were forced to return home in anticipation of the July 1, 1997, takeover of Hong Kong by China and China's announced refusal to maintain the long-standing refugee camps there. The repatriation occurred after China ordered Hong Kong to return them before the takeover.

      The rights and treatment of ethnic minorities were closely related to the burgeoning refugee problem, since mass migration often followed ethnic conflict and failed attempts at self-determination. A major future concern for the international human rights community would be protecting minority interests while maintaining the sovereign rights of existing states. Several new human rights treaties under consideration would expand recognition of the rights of minority communities. (See also Spotlight: Fourth World: Resurgent Nations in the New Europe (Fourth World: Resurgent Nations in the New Europe ).)

"Truth Commissions."
      Increasing use was made of "truth commissions" as a method for identifying and documenting human rights violations and helping to bring perpetrators of abuses to justice. Although these fact-finding bodies had no authority to prosecute crimes, they were designed to obtain and publicize information about past atrocities as a first step toward acknowledging responsibility and promoting reconciliation.

      Haiti's truth commission produced a lengthy report, If I Don't Cry Out, which identified 8,652 specific cases of human rights violations committed under the highly repressive military dictatorships that ruled prior to 1994. The documentation of these cases remained secret, and individual violators, for the most part, were not being prosecuted.

      In South Africa amnesty was granted to those who admitted human rights violations during the years of apartheid. As a result, few criminal prosecutions took place. Former defense minister Magnus Malan, who had been charged, along with three generals and other security officials, in connection with the creation, training, and supervision of secret "hit squads" that murdered antiapartheid advocates, was acquitted in October. Col. Eugene de Kock, however, was convicted on similar charges and subsequently admitted having played a key role in a long series of murders and assaults. The peace agreement that was signed on December 29 in Guatemala also took the approach of granting broad amnesty for past violations.

Women's Rights.
      One issue of paramount concern to women was female genital mutilation (FGM), also referred to as female circumcision. The procedure, usually performed before the onset of puberty, could involve cutting away the tip of the clitoris or removing all exterior genitalia. Some 85 million to 115 million women worldwide—primarily in Africa and Asia—had undergone this right-of-passage ritual, which was performed without anesthetic and often with unsterilized instruments. The ancient practice was most prevalent among women in Mali (93%), The Sudan (89%), and Egypt (70-90%), the latter of which reported at least two deaths even though the country's health minister banned FGM.

      A new report was issued documenting the seriousness of the problem and urging concerted international action to outlaw this practice. The matter was brought to international attention after Fauziya Kasinga of Togo claimed refugee status in the U.S., fearing persecution through forced administration of FGM in her own country. Initially, the U.S. government rejected her request for asylum, indicating that fear of FGM did not come within any of the five recognized grounds for protection set out in the Convention on the Status of Refugees. U.S. courts eventually rejected this argument and accepted Kasinga's position that sexual abuse was a justified basis for fear of persecution.

      Women's rights took on special significance in Afghanistan as a result of the takeover of the government by the Taliban militia in September 1996. They imposed harsh restrictions on the employment, education, and social rights of women, in accordance with that fundamentalist group's strict interpretation of Islamic doctrines. Attention was also focused on the special problems women faced in situations of war and armed conflict where rape and forced impregnation occur. The UN in June cited rape in this context as a war crime.

Rights Related to Development and Basic Economic and Social Needs.
      In June Habitat II, a UN conference dealing with housing needs, was held in Istanbul. This was followed in November by a World Food Summit in Rome, sponsored by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. The purpose of the latter conference was to encourage action to eliminate hunger and malnutrition. The year was also designated the International Year for the Eradication of Poverty. (MORTON SKLAR)

      See also Insurance (Business and Industry Review ); Education ; Health and Disease .

      This article updates social service.

▪ 1995

      In 1994 more emphasis than in previous years was given to private initiative and responsibility in devising social security reforms, especially in Western Europe, the U.S., and Canada. Against the background of economic stagnation and financial deficits in Western Europe, employment creation was favoured over income distribution. Though Central and Eastern European countries faced worse economic conditions than their Western neighbours, they forged ahead with social security reforms. Newly industrialized countries advanced social security systems in line with economic performance. In the less developed world individual countries introduced reforms but, on the whole, problems of inadequate social security coverage and financial imbalances predominated.

North America.
      In both the United States and Canada, 1994 was marked by reassessment and proposed reform of some basic social protection policies. The U.S. Congress and the Clinton administration wrestled with health care reform for most of the year before reaching a stalemate. The administration's proposal had been introduced near the end of 1993, after the Task Force on National Health Care Reform, headed by Hillary Rodham Clinton, had conducted months of meetings. At the heart of the plan was the promise of universal health insurance paid for largely by employers, with subsidized care for those who could not afford insurance and provisions to contain soaring health costs. The plan proposed to set up local quasi-governmental entities, known as health alliances, through which consumers would buy insurance and care providers would be paid.

      Interest in reform was widespread. Health costs had been rising faster than inflation; they topped $900 billion in 1993 and were expected to exceed the trillion-dollar level in 1994. One estimate put the number of Americans without health insurance as high as 39.7 million in 1994, or 15.3% of the population. Despite these conditions and early public support, passage of reform bogged down. Partisan politics, questionable legislative strategy, the complexity of the issue, and lobbying efforts by various special-interest groups eroded the initial backing. Major issues included the cost of massive overhaul, the creation of a new bureaucracy, and the impact on patients' rights to choose their physicians. As Congress neared adjournment, attempts at compromise failed.

      In the meantime, the spotlight shifted from Washington to the states. In September the federal government gave Florida permission to conduct a Medicaid experiment aimed at providing coverage for 1.1 million poor Floridians with no health insurance by enrolling them in some form of managed care. At least five states implemented programs to expand health coverage to hundreds of thousands of people not reached by Medicaid. A dozen others applied for federal waivers to allow such trials or were expected to ask for them. California, Florida, and Texas enrolled thousands of people in health insurance alliances that pooled the purchasing power of small businesses. Most states tightened insurance regulations, requiring insurers to sell coverage to small businesses and limiting the variation in rates. States were limited in what they could do, however. Federal law prevented them from regulating, taxing, or interfering with the health plans set up by companies that served as their own insurer.

      The U.S. welfare system also had its problems. Aid to Families with Dependent Children grew to a record 14.3 million recipients in 1994, a 31% increase since the 1989 recession. The cost of running welfare programs was rising twice as fast as the number of people on the rolls. At the same time, welfare benefits had declined 40% over the past 20 years when adjusted for inflation. Following up on a campaign pledge to "end welfare as we know it," Pres. Bill Clinton in June unveiled a plan for welfare overhaul. The proposal was designed to get recipients off the dole by requiring them to take part in job-training, education, and placement programs; cutting off cash benefits to some mothers on welfare after two years; and providing subsidized jobs for persons who were unable to find other work after that time. The plan would also toughen enforcement of child-support laws and provide $400 million in grants to fight teenage pregnancy.

      The cost of the Clinton plan was put at $9.3 billion over five years, with the bulk of the money to come from reducing other existing social programs, tightening and ending welfare eligibility for noncitizens, putting caps on state emergency welfare programs, limiting disability payments for drug and alcohol addicts, and reducing benefits to legal immigrants. The plan was greeted with criticism from both the left and the right, and welfare reform was put off by Congress to 1995.

      In October the Census Bureau reported that the number of poor had risen in 1993 for the fourth year in a row; 39.3 million people, or 15.1% of the population, were below the official poverty line of $14,763 for a family of four. It was the highest level since 15.2% in 1983. The poverty rate dropped to 12.1% if noncash benefits, such as food stamps, school lunches, Medicare, and Medicaid, were included.

      Reform measures were also pushed for social security. U.S. Rep. Daniel Rostenkowski, former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, sponsored a bill to raise taxes and reduce benefits enough to ensure that the system remained fiscally sound for the next 75 years. The measure was introduced after social security officials warned that the Medicare trust fund that paid hospital bills for the elderly would run out of money in 2001 and a separate trust fund that paid benefits to disabled workers would be bankrupt in 1995.

      While Rostenkowski's bill failed to get out of committee, other changes were enacted in social security. Congress removed the Social Security Administration from the Department of Health and Human Services, making it a separate entity. The newly autonomous agency, to be administered by commissioners appointed by the president for six-year terms, would be one of the largest in the federal government. More than 40 million elderly and disabled received social security benefits, and 135 million paid into the funds in 1993. At the beginning of 1994, the trust fund balance was $365.9 billion. Congress also raised the earnings threshold above which an employer had to pay social security taxes for domestic workers from $50 to $1,000 annually.

      Reform of social programs was also a major concern in Canada. After months of preparation, Human Resources Minister Lloyd Axworthy issued in October an 89-page discussion paper outlining radical reforms in $38.7 billion worth of government programs for welfare, unemployment insurance, and postsecondary education. The paper criticized the welfare system for trapping too many people in a cycle of dependency and offered several options for discussion. It suggested two possibilities for reforming unemployment insurance: an entirely new system that would differentiate between frequent and occasional users and tightening admissibility rules and reducing benefits. The paper concluded that the welfare system failed because of the high level of child poverty (40% of Canada's welfare recipients were children) and suggested replacing the shared-cost Canada Assistance Plan with block funding that would give provinces greater leeway in designing their own programs. For postsecondary education the government proposed to make $2.6 billion in loans directly to students (the money was currently distributed through the provinces). This would allow students to use the money for nonuniversity training.

      While Canada's health care system was often cited as a model in the U.S. health debate, Canadians were engaged in their own reassessment of health care delivery. One concern was the growing privatization of health care. According to a study by the Canadian Medical Association, the private share of total health care spending rose from 25% to 28% between 1985 and 1991. In 1992 and 1993 every Canadian province except Prince Edward Island reduced or eliminated coverage that it had offered over and above the requirements of the law.

Western Europe.
      A major debate on social policy took place among the members of the European Union. EU institutions, governments of member states, workers' and employers' organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and individuals participated in the discussions. A European social model for the future was developed; outlined in a White Paper, it was published by the European Commission in July.

      The objectives of an EU social policy were reconsidered. Rather than providing cash benefits through the redistribution of income, it placed a new emphasis on creating jobs and stimulating the economy. The 1994 outline for European social policy did not provide for a total harmonization of policies throughout the EU. Common objectives were to be defined and minimum standards respected, with a continuing aim to improve social standards for all EU members.

      A new vision of the welfare state's role and capabilities was also reflected in concrete social security reforms, such as the passage of Germany's nursing care insurance and Sweden's pension reform.

      New German legislation stipulated that a special benefit would be payable to persons requiring some form of nonmedical personal care. Benefits were structured according to the extent of the individual's impediment, with a choice of cash benefits or a higher value of benefits in kind. A major goal was rehabilitation. Effective April 1, 1995, benefits would be granted to persons being cared for at home, while those in institutions would be paid benefits only from July 1, 1996. The role of the state was also diminished; everyone was encouraged to purchase additional private insurance to cover any difference between the statutory benefit and the actual cost of care. The state would not cover deficits associated with nursing care insurance but would subsidize investment in institutions providing nonmedical care.

      In Sweden's Riksdag (parliament) agreement was reached on old-age-pension reform and the limitations of the welfare state's capabilities. Radical changes were dictated by economic realities. The national pension system would be reformed so that the size of an individual's pension would largely reflect the contributions paid on the income earned by that person. In the present system employees made no contributions; in the future half of the total contributions would be paid by the insured persons themselves and the rest by the employers. In this pay-as-you-go system, acquired pension credits, as well as the ceiling on pensionable income, would be indexed in accordance with general wage trends instead of on prices. The reform introduced a mechanism that provided for longer working lives as life expectancy rose; at retirement the yearly pension amount would be computed on the basis of the accumulated wage-indexed contributions and the pensioner's average life expectancy from age 61. Retirement age would be flexible—between the ages of 61 and 70. Because benefit payments would be linked to economic growth, negative adjustments were also possible. Years of child care, military service, and studies would carry pension rights. The system would remain a compulsory national scheme with a basic protection for those with a previous low-income level. The new rules would be introduced gradually and primarily affect future retirees.

Central and Eastern Europe.
      Problems associated with the transition from a centrally planned economy to a market-oriented one led many countries to completely restructure their social security and pension systems. Most countries adopted a three-layer system, consisting of a means-tested flat-rate pension, a mandatory earnings-related pension, and an optional private (occupational) complementary scheme. High levels of inflation and unemployment posed difficulties in implementation, but reforms were made.

      The Czech Republic and Hungary introduced the most notable changes during 1994. In the Czech Republic governmental contributions to approved private funds, including a bonus contribution during the first two years, provided incentives to individuals to contribute to a personal pension fund. Legislation to that effect was adopted in March 1994. In Hungary a law on voluntary mutual pension and savings funds took effect in January 1994. By September three funds had already been established.

      Suggestions of raising the retirement age and equalizing the retirement age of men and women met with open hostility in all of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe where the issues were publicly debated.

Industrialized Asia and the Pacific.
      For members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, support to families was the primary issue during the year. In Japan the increasing participation of women in the labour force and a declining birthrate were reflected in debates on social security reform as well as in legislation. An employer-financed Child Rearing Program was set up to support households in which both parents were employed. The law provided for flexible child-rearing services to be organized on a private basis. Proposals under discussion included a pension-contribution exemption and a benefit package for employees on child-care leave.

      In Australia, where family allowances were financed from general revenues, measures were introduced to improve the distribution and equality of payments. In 1994 the income threshold in determining entitlement to these allowances was reduced, and overseas income was factored into the income level. Improved targeting for family support was also sought in New Zealand, which provided additional assistance to low-income families and launched pilot programs to facilitate single parents' entry into employment or training contracts.

Emerging and Less Developed Countries.
      High economic growth rates helped place the newly industrialized countries in a position to advance social security schemes in line with economic performance, and during 1994 almost all of them enhanced the levels of social protection. In South Korea the entire population was covered by health insurance, and more than half of them were enrolled in a pension plan. A proposal to extend compulsory coverage to farmers and fishermen by mid-1995 would cover 62% of the population in the old-age scheme.

      Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam all expressed interest in installing comprehensive social insurance schemes, financially autonomous from the state budget. Vietnam adopted a new Labour Code, and Mongolia passed legislation paving the way for the implementation of a 1995 integrated social insurance scheme. China's reform moved slowly, stymied by regional diversity and substantial internal labour migration. Argentina and Colombia adopted pension reforms inspired by a Chilean scheme. Zimbabwe's social security program provided retirement, disability, survivors', and unemployment benefits. In South Africa 1994 marked the implementation of nondiscriminatory regulations adopted in 1993. Previously most benefits had differed according to the recipient's colour of skin. Whites, for example, had been paid 15% more than blacks in old-age benefits.


      See also Insurance (Business and Industry Review ); Education ; Health and Disease .

      This updates the article social service.

* * *

Universalium. 2010.

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