Regional Workshops on CERD & UPR III - Central and Eastern Region
BANGKOK, THAILAND – Manushya Foundation, along with the Justice for Peace Foundation, Thai BHR Network, and the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR, held its first of four regional workshops on the CERD Review & UPR process in Bangkok from November 13-14, which was followed by our very first Focus Group Discussion with LGBTIQ+ Youth on November 15. The workshop aimed to empower local community members and youth to speak their truth to power in relation to the human rights violations they face, using UN human rights monitoring mechanisms as a platform to seek justice and be heard by the international community to remedy their situation.
In October-November 2021, Thailand will go through its Third Universal Periodic Review (UPR III), during which the military-backed government will be reviewed on all its human rights record by UN member states at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. The same year, Thailand will also be reviewed on its compliance with the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) by the CERD Committee, comprising international legal experts who will examine whether Thailand is respecting its international human rights obligations under ICERD. These UN human rights monitoring mechanisms are an unique opportunity for grassroots and local communities to directly share their struggles and solutions with diplomats and CERD committee members in order to hold the Thai government accountable on its international human rights obligations and improve the situation on the ground.
The Bangkok workshop kicked-off with opening remarks provided by Mr. Pierre Hagman, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Switzerland to Thailand, who highlighted the importance of CSO collaboration and engagement of local communities in international human rights mechanisms to provide solutions and bring change to their country. He was followed by Ms. Angkhana Neelapaijit, Founder of the Justice for Peace Foundation, who gave her remarks by detailing the negative impacts of racial discrimination in Thailand, resulting in exclusion and severe human rights violations.
(LEFT) Mr. Pierre Hagman giving his heartfelt opening remarks on the significance of CSO and local community collaboration. (RIGHT) Ms. Angkhana Neelapaijit detailing the negative impacts of racial discrimination in Thailand.
The first day of the workshop focused mainly on the CERD Review. Ms. Emilie Pradichit, Founder and Director of Manushya Foundation, along with the co-facilitator Ms. Nada Chaiyajit, LGBTIQ+ Activist, started the training stressing the importance for all marginalized communities to engage in the CERD review process to tell the world #WhatsHappeningInThailand and how racial discrimination is rooted in laws, policies and daily practices in Thailand. Sessions also include the role of the CERD Committee, the CERD review process and the significance of the UN human rights monitoring system. The afternoon session focused mainly on the methodology to develop the CERD shadow report, with participants breaking into thematic groups to start drafting their reports, analysing the impact of racial discrimination within their thematic issues, including: LGBTIQ+ refugees and migrants; sex workers from neighboring countries; LGBTIQ+ Youth issues; Migrant workers; Indigenous Peoples; People Living with Disabilities; Youth from Southern Borders of Thailand, Political Participation of minorities. In groups, participants exchanged ideas and noted down clearly identified problems, along with specific recommendations that they would like to include in their CERD report. Further, all groups addressed intersectional issues, such as that of deaf LGBTIQ+ individuals, who mentioned that their identity as an LGTBIQ+ individual further complicates the struggles they face as a disabled person – which includes alienation from their family due to them not knowing sign language, which is intensified by their non-heterosexual and non-gender conforming identities. Other issues included the unionization rights for migrant workers and nationwide minimum wage differences–presented by Mr. Wattana Sansa – and safe abortion rights with emphasis on the difficulty indigenous women face in accessing the service – which was addressed by Ms. Sulaiporn Chonwilai from Tamtang group.
(LEFT) Mr. Wattana Sansa argues for unionization rights for migrant workers and nationwide minimum wage differences despite similar cost of living. (RIGHT) Ms. Thanakarn Bella Vongvisitsin presents on the discrimination faced by LGBTIQ+ individuals of certain races, drawing upon examples from the law.
Ms. Sulaiporn Chonwilai addresses the difficulty indigenous women face when accessing safe abortion and other female reproductive health service.
The second day of the training focused on Thailand’s Third UPR Cycle. After being provided with an explanation on the UPR process and an overview of recommendations received during Thailand’s First and Second UPR, participants were engaged in discussions to develop strategies on how to write a compelling UPR report to appeal to diplomats. Indeed, in the UPR process, diplomats act as a bridge making community-led recommendations to the Thai government to improve its human rights situation on the ground. Participants formed thematic working groups to broaden their previous findings for the CERD report, as the UPR report covers all forms of human rights violations.
On the third day, Manushya Foundation and Save the Children Thailand held a Focus Group Discussion with LGBTIQ+ youth in order for them to submit CERD and UPR reports next year. The youth separated into two groups to discuss the discrimination they have faced due to their sexual orientation and gender identity in four areas of life: home life, educational institutions, community services, and online platforms. As this will be the first time that Thai LGBTIQ+ youth will submit their very own specific CERD and UPR reports, Manushya Foundation is thrilled to have played a part in letting them voice their truth to the international community.
Manushya Foundation would like to sincerely thank all the participants for joining us and making this workshop a fulfilling and memorable experience; whether that be in person or virtually via our Facebook story, Instagram story, and Twitter updates! We would also like to thank the Embassy of Canada to Thailand and the Embassy of Switzerland in Bangkok for the support and guidance provided throughout the preparation and the roll-out of the workshop; and to Save the Children Thailand for their support in the preparation and in carrying out the Focus Group Discussions. Once again, we are so grateful to have been involved in allowing community members and Thai youth to speak their truth to power and have their voices heard by the international community!
Access the pictures of the workshop here.