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  • Writer's pictureManushya Foundation

#NewReport: Environmental Democracy in Thailand & Laos: Barriers and Good Practices!

This year, we are launching our new report Environmental Democracy in Thailand & Laos: Barriers and Good Practices which deals with procedural and participatory elements of the right to a safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment, under two highly restrictive civil and legal contexts: Thailand and Laos. The report was originally submitted to the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, David R. Boyd, who will use it to compile his new thematic report on the same issue.

The right to a healthy environment has only been recognized recently on the international level, specifically in 2021 by the UN Human Rights Council and in 2022 by the UN General Assembly and it was a result of years of advocacy of civil society and some countries. What we usually imagine under this right are “substantive” rights such as our inherent right to breathe clean air, have access to safe potable water, and live in a clean and safe environment that supports, not undermines our health.

While our newest report deals with participatory and procedural aspects of the cases of Sab Wai and Bangkloi villagers, we have elaborated at length on the role of reforestation and false climate solutions in Thailand's net zero commitments. To learn more, have a look at our 2023 report “Just Energy Transition in the Context of Extractive Sector in Thailand”.

To clarify the obligations of State parties and responsibilities of corporate actors with regard to the achievement of Just Transition, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) recently issued a briefer “Key Messages on Human Rights Obligations for the Achievement of a Just Transition”. The messages emphasize the obligations of the state to fulfill human rights such as right to freedom of expression, right to participation and access to information, all of them crucial not just for Just Transition but also for Environmental Democracy!

Our new report covers the state of Environmental Democracy in two ASEAN countries - Thailand and Laos. Violations of environmental rights, including persecution of Environmental Human Rights Defenders, however, is an urgent issue for the whole Mekong region! In Vietnam, the Government known for its repression of human rights defenders, imprisoned six environmentalists, activists and climate leaders, including Hoang Thi Minh Hong and Dang Dinh Bach on the made-up grounds such as “tax evasion”, even though they were instrumental in securing a huge funding through the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) for Vietnam! Four of them are still currently in jail! Worse still, despite Vietnam's violations of human rights, the JETP has just moved a step closer to its realization, after the Resource Mobilisation Plan was launched at the start of COP28. The plan details the future use of USD 15.8 billion that is being provided to Vietnam through the JETP, a project co-led by the European Union and the United Kingdom. No funds should be provided to a country that puts environmental defenders in jail!


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