New Report: Civil Society Organization Sustainability is Deteriorating in Thailand!
28 February 2022,
Manushya Foundation in collaboration with USAID, FHI360, and ICNL wrote Thailand's CSO Sustainability Index Report (2020 Edition), 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. This is the result of shrinking civic space and the adoption and enforcement of restrictive laws and practices by the undemocratically-elected government.
Overall CSO sustainability in Thailand deteriorated in 2020, with an extreme decline in the legal environment and slight declines in all other dimensions while the negative public image of CSOs remained unchanged. The legal environment underwent extreme deterioration due to increased state harassment, unfair criminalization of free speech, and the controversial draft NGO law. CSOs also continued to face barriers to registration. Financial viability inevitably worsened as the economy was negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, 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 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 negative and unchanged. 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 had to move online but nonetheless suffered a setback due to COVID-19 restrictions and crackdowns.