Principles: What are the foundations for human rights development in Thailand?
Thailand recognizes the universality of human rights and adheres to the principles enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Thailand`s peace-loving tradition provides firm foundation for human rights promotion and protection. Thailand`s geostrategic and historical location at the center of the Indochinese Archipelago instills among the Thai people tolerance, understanding and acceptance of differences and diversity.
Realities: What progresses have been made?
At national level
- Thailand promotes and protects human rights and fundamental freedoms of all, particularly the disadvantaged, be they women, the elderly or the disabled etc. We strive to strengthen democracy, the rule of law, and good governance.
- In 1997, Thailand as a pluralist demorcratic society, adopted the first people-centered constitution. This new constitution ascribes specific provisions to protect and promoted all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
- In accordance this Constitution, Thailand is setting up a number of mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights: the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, the Administration Tribunal and the National Commission of Human Rights.
- In October 1999, the Thai Parliament approved the organic laws to establish the National Commission of Human Rights. The commission will perform its function under the supervision of the Upper House of Parliament. Eleven experts will be tasked with main responsibilities, inter alia, to advise and map out policies to promote and protect human rights and to investigate and report human rights violation. The Commission is expected to be set up within the first half of the year 2000.
- Thailand is in the process of drafting a national human rights plan of action and a national plan of action on human rights education. We attach great importance to creating awareness and understanding on the issues of human rights among the people at all levels, both those at risk of being violated and those who are proned to abuse their power.
- Thailand seeks to strengthen the exchange of information and experiences with regard to human rights with various countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Norway and Japan. We are willing to learn from others` best practices and to share with countries both within and outside the Asia-Pacific region our practices and lessons learned.
At regional level
- Thailand proposed the idea of `Flexible Engagement` which was later transformed into `Enhanced Interaction` among the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The idea was concretized at the Manila ASEAN Summit in December 1999 during which ASEAN agreed to initiate ASEAN Troika that will translate the concept of `Enhanced Interaction` into practical actions.
- Thailand supports the establishment of the ASEAN human rights mechanism. In 1998, Thailand organized a regional workshop on human rights and criminal justice as an initial step towards exchanging views, information and experiences among ASEAN countries on the practice of criminal justice which directly affects human rights of their peoples.
- Thailand participates actively in the Asia-Pacific human rights forum. In 1999, Thailand in cooperation with the United Nations Office of the High commissioner for Human Rights hosted the Intersectional Workshop on the development of national plans of action for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Asia-Pacific Region. The meeting adopted a document containing possible elements to facilitate the development of national action plans for the promotion and protection of human rights.
At international level
- In 1948, together with 47 United Nation member states, Thailand voted in favor of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Thailand views civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights as equally important.
- Thailand has acceded to four major UN human rights instruments, namely, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1985, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1992, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1996, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1999.
- Thailand is also exploring the advisability of acceding to two other major conventions, namely, the Convention on the Elimination against all Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the Convention against Torture (CAT). However, our records have not shown any contradiction to these conventions so far.
- Thailand has been involved in the discussion on the issue of human security initiated by Canada and Norway since the very beginning. We advocate equal importance to both freedom from want and freedom from fear. Regarding freedom from fear, Thailand supports the present interest in the international community on the protection of civilians and children in armed conflicts, particularly the issue of child soldiers. While regarding freedom from want, we promotes in particular the concept of human-centred development.
- Thailand supports the full realization of the right to development. We support the work of the open-ended working group on the right to development. We perceive the right to development as encompassing all human rights as enshrined in the 1978 Declaration on the Right to Development.
- Thailand has, over decades, consistently taken on humanitarian tasks, particularly in providing safe shelters for millions of displaced persons and refugees from neighboring countries.
- During the 54th United Nations General Assembly, Thailand co-sponsored 33 draft resolutions in the Third Committee (social, cultural and human rights). The items which we place high interest upon are the rights of women, children, the disable, indigenous peoples, displaced persons and refugees, national human rights institution, human rights education, right to development, and racism and racial discrimination.