The United Nations is a forum for diplomatic discussions and a place to check-and-balance countries around the world. Within the prestigious organization, there are sub-units who perform studies on all sorts of social matters, and a recent recommendation has gotten some anime fans riled up. Despite protests from Japan and the U.S., a new UN publication recommends the removal of certain content involving minors due to child exploitation concerns.
On September 10, a set of new OHCHR guidelines were posted, and it was there a sub-unit within the UN's Human Rights Division gave its recommendation for states to include legal protections against certain content involving minors.
"The Committee is deeply concerned about the large amount of online and offline material, including drawings and virtual representations, depicting non-existing children or persons appearing to be children involved in sexually explicit conduct, and about the serious effect that such material can have on children’s right to dignity and protection. The Committee encourages States parties to include in their legal provisions regarding child sexual abuse material (child pornography) representations of non-existing children or of persons appearing to be children, in particular when such representations are used as part of a process to sexually exploit children," the new update reads.
This news has stirred up controversy within the anime fandom, particularly with those who support loli genre. While the newly published guidelines do not outright ban such content in anime, they clearly push against such inclusion. Japan has already responded to the guidelines as a new statement says, "It is unfortunate that the guidelines were published without the committee having sufficiently discussed" the issue with relevant parties like Japan.
As for the U.S., no response has been published, but a statement was given by the country months ago as this proposal was first moving forward. While the U.S. agreed the dignity of children must be protected from predatory behaviors, it took issue with the proposal's terminology of non-existent children being affected2comments
"In the United States, federal law states that it is illegal to create, own, or distribute a visual representation of any kind, including a drawing, cartoon, sculpture or painting depicting a minor involved in sexually explicit conduct that is obscene. However, visual representations (CGI, anime, etc.) where there is no "real" child are typically protected by the First Amendment (unless visual representations are obscene) and by US obligations under the ICCPR. We urge you to edit the paragraph as follows: "... urges States parties to prohibit by law, in accordance with their national legal systems, child sexual abuse material in any form .... including when this material represents realistic depictions of non-existent children," the statement reads.
The UN's recommendation is just that without any legal recourse, and no word has been given on whether the guidelines will be used to push new laws down the line. For now, the fandom will have to wait and see how this suggested ban is treated in the future and whether it alters upcoming anime projects.