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Manushya Foundation in collaboration with USAID, FHI360 and ICNL wrote Thailand's 2020 CSO Sustainability Index Report, reviewing the strength and overall viability of civil society actors in the country. With the participation of community leaders, CSO experts, and development partners, the report found that CSOs' sustainability in Thailand has declined from 2019 to 2020, in  the following 6 dimensions: legal environment, organizational capacity, financial viability, advocacy, service provision, sectoral infrastructure; while  public image dimension remained unchanged. The decrease of Thailand's CSO Sustainability Index is the result of a shrinking civic space, and  the adoption and enforcement of restrictive laws and practices by the undemocratically-elected government.

Overall CSO sustainability in Thailand deteriorated slightly in 2020, with an extreme decline in the legal environment and slight declines in all other dimensions but public image, which remained unchanged. The legal environment underwent extreme deterioration due to increased state harassment. CSOs also continued to face barriers to registration. Financial viability inevitably worsened as the economy worsened, while access to funding remained a major issue, especially for unregistered CSOs. The infrastructure supporting the CSO sector also declined, as Thailand still lacks strong centralized CSO networks. Organizational capacity declined slightly as a result of the barriers presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, and service delivery similarly  deteriorated due to COVID-19 restrictions and limited capacity. The sector’s public image remained stable, despite the fact that ongoing reliance on foreign funding reinforced government and public mistrust of CSOs, and the government continued to discredit CSO activities and the media outlets that covered them. CSO advocacy efforts were able to successfully move online but nonetheless suffered a slight setback due to COVID-19 restrictions and crackdowns.


About the project: The CSOSI Sustainability Index project is funded by USAID, and implemented by FHI360 in partnership with ICNL and it assesses the sustainability of CSO sectors in countries around the world. Manushya Foundation is the implementing partner for the 2020 CSOSI report of Thailand. The report is largely based on input provided by civil society experts, including experts from INGOs, CSOs, CBOs, grassroots, and human rights defenders.

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