Human Rights and Social Issues
Human rights and social issues
Thailand has a rich history as a land of freedom and diversity. Thailand was among the first 48 countries to endorse the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The Royal Thai Government respects fundamental freedoms and basic human rights. This reflects in the Constitution of Thailand (interim) (2014), which protects all human dignity, rights, liberties and equality of the people under a democratic regime of government with the King as the Head of State.
Thailand is a state party to 7 core international human rights instruments, namely
(1) the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR);
(2) the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
(3) the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against
Women (CEDAW) and its Optional Protocol;
(4) the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and its three Optional
Protocols on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, on the
Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography, and on a
(5) the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
(6) the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment (CAT); and
(7) the Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
To effectively implement these international human rights obligations, Thailand has enacted national laws and National Human Rights Plan. The preparation of the 3rd National Human Rights Plan (2014-2018) is based on a participatory approach involving all parties concerned and representatives of all provinces across the country. Moreover, the Plan incorporates the recommendations under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) adopted by Thailand. The Plan identifies 11 human rights dimensions such as public health, education and economic rights. It also identifies 15 target groups such as people living in poverty, older persons, children and youth, women, and persons with disabilities.
Thailand has long been an ardent supporter of human rights pillar in the UN both at a regional and international level. During Thailand’s membership of the Human Rights Council (HRC) between 2010-2013, Thailand strengthens the Council’s role on technical cooperation and capacity-building in the field of human rights among states and between states and relevant UN mechanisms. Thailand was also the President of HRC between 2010-2011. During the presidency, Thailand saw through the inaugural review process of HRC.
As sustainable development is interdependent to basic human rights, and peace and security, therefore Thailand also has contributed in the formulation of the post-2015 development agenda by actively advocating for the mainstreaming of basic human rights and rule of law principles in the post-2015 development agenda based on the respect of national sovereignty and consideration of national contexts.
Advocator of the rights of women, children and persons with disabilities
Thailand is also active in the promotion and protection of rights of vulnerable groups, particularly rights of women, children, and persons with disabilities, at national, regional and international levels.
In terms of promotion and protection of the rights of children, in addition to being a state party to the CRC, Thailand is also a state party to all three Optional Protocols to the CRC. Thailand was also among the core group of countries, which initiated the
High-level meeting of the General Assembly on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was held in November 2014.
With regard to the gender equality, women empowerment, and human rights of women and girls, Thailand was the Chair of the 59th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) held in March 2015 at UNHQ. Thailand ensured that the celebratory session of CSW59, which saw the largest gathering of Ministers and civil society representatives, paved the way forward for an accelerated, full and effective implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. CSW59 adopted two landmark documents, namely the Political declaration on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and a resolution entitled “the Future organization and methods of work of the Commission on the Status of Women”. Both outcome documents are action-oriented, forward-looking, and will ensure that CSW is a well-equipped body to strengthen gender equality, advancement of women, and human rights of women and girls worldwide.
On the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities, Thailand was actively involved in the drafting of the CRPD since the beginning. In recent years, Thailand has actively advanced the rights of persons with disabilities, particularly at a regional level. Thailand hosted a regional consultation with partners to produce “Bangkok Consensus” as a regional input for an outcome document of the
High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals for persons with disabilities, which was held in 2013 at UNHQ.
Drugs and crime
Cooperating with international community to combat the world drug problem
The fight against narcotic drugs is one of the top priorities on Thailand’s national agenda. As the current Chair of the 58th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), Thailand has a long history of active engagement and contribution to the CND since 1973. Thailand is committed to a comprehensive and balanced approach in addressing the world drug problem, particularly in the areas of demand and supply reduction and international cooperation. Thailand is notable for its good practice and strong advocate for sustainable alternative development with participation of all stakeholders especially at a local level. Thailand has therefore played a leading role in the promotion of alternative development strategies to reduce illicit crop cultivation. The approach has led to the adoption of the UN Guiding Principles on Alternative Development by the UNGA in December 2013.
Promoting gender-sensitivity in international norms of crime prevention and criminal justice
Thailand has been an active member of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ). Thailand has advocated for the mainstreaming of basic rights of women and children into criminal justice systems. It plays an important role in the formulation of both the Model Strategies and Practical Measures on the Elimination of Violence Against Women in the Field of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, as well as the Model strategies and practical measures on the elimination of violence against children in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice.
The UN Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders or the Bangkok Rules owes it's origin to Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol of Thailand, who has worked tirelessly for the cause of women prisoners in Thailand. As a Public Prosecutor and from her work and contacts with women inmates, Her Royal Highness realized that the 1955 UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (or the SMR) do not sufficiently address the needs of women prisoners. Such needs are very specific and multi-dimensional, ranging from personal hygiene and reproductive health to psychological and mental care. In addition, many women prisoners are also pregnant women, or mothers with child-rearing responsibilities, or breast-feeding mothers. Yet they continue to be vulnerable to
re-victimization and sexual abuses in prisons and correctional facilities. In recognition of the gender-specific needs of women in the criminal justice system, Thailand took the lead in mobilizing international support for the development of the first UN standard for the treatment of women prisoners to supplement the SMRs on gender-specific provisions. Adopted by the General Assembly in 2010, the Bangkok Rules have contributed to significant progress in the treatment of women prisoners and inmates around the world. Currently, Thailand is promoting awareness and implementation of the Bangkok Rules at every level.
Combatting human trafficking at home and abroad
On 30 August 2014, the Royal Thai government declared a policy of “Zero Tolerance for Human Trafficking”, which has been the basis for creating an integrated system for tackling human trafficking across its various manifestations, addressing root causes, and ensuring coordination among government agencies, NGOs, the media and the private sector. In addition, battling human trafficking has been elevated to a national priority by General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of Thailand, who publicly announced this policy, along with the Royal Thai Government’s determination to punish those who were involved in the use of forced labourers on fishing vessels. In prevention, the Royal Thai Government has identified weaknesses in the underlying migrant system as a key root cause that must be addressed in order to prevent human trafficking. There now exists 112 mobile registration units at district levels across 22 coastal provinces to make it more convenient for owners and employers to register their fishing vessels, fishing licenses and workers. In the prosecution realm, the Royal Thai government has drastically altered the law enforcement landscape to increase accountability, decrease possibilities for corruption and law enforcement malfeasance, and focus investigation and prosecution efforts more squarely on busting large trafficking networks and bring them to justice.
At an international level, Thailand emphasizes close cooperation and shared responsibility. Thailand is working with members of the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime to develop policy guidance for countries in the Asia-Pacific so as to promote a common understanding on how to effectively implement the UN Trafficking and Smuggling Protocols.