The absence of codified “right to land” must be addressed in 3rd UPR!
Manushya Foundation jointly with Sai Thong Rak Pah Network, the Indigenous Women’s Network of Thailand (IWNT), the Thai BHR Network and the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR collaborated on a joint UPR submission ahead of Thailand’s 3rd Universal Periodic Review (UPR) cycle, taking place on 10 November 2021. The submission examines the compliance of Thailand with the recommendations it received during its 2nd UPR cycle in relation to land-related rights, forest conservation laws and climate change policies.
This is the third time Thailand has undergone review under the UPR. During the 2nd UPR cycle, the Thai government received three recommendations directly related to land-related rights, forest conservation laws and climate change policies. All three of them were accepted, nevertheless, our assessment shows that none of them has been fully implemented.
This submission documents Thailand’s disregard for the rights of local communities, especially in rural areas. State agents misappropriate land under the disguise of climate change mitigation and protection of the environment, and while large corporate actors are generally unaffected, small subsistence farmers and indigenous peoples who protect their forests through their traditional ways of living, including traditional farming techniques, bear the brunt of such policies. They are casted as criminals instead of protectors of the forest!
Human rights defenders and community leaders who defy such actions are harassed, often without access to appropriate remedies. Especially, women are excluded from public participation and find themselves at the margins of the community and society as a whole. Although the efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change and protect the national environment are commendable, they cannot come to the concerned communities’ cost.
This submission indicates that the government’s actions in regard to forest land reclamation and climate change mitigation result in violations of human rights, in the following manner:
Section 2 discusses Thailand’s forest conservation laws and policies failing to protect and respect human rights.
Section 3 discusses the rights of indigenous peoples vis-à-vis national park regulations.
Section 4 discusses the unsustainable pursuit of economic growth over human rights: community manipulation, land grabbing, land evictions, environmental degradation and lack of compensation.
Section 5 discusses the criminalization and killings of Land and Environmental Human Rights Defenders.
Section 6 examines the specific challenges faced by rural women and indigenous women while protecting their land.
Section 7 discusses the ineffective access to remedy.
Section 8 includes recommendations to the Thai government, addressing the challenges and rights violations discussed in foregoing sections.
An annex provides an overview of the recommendations examined in this submission.
Please note that issues of land-related rights, forest laws and climate change policies are closely related to and intersecting with matters concerning indigenous peoples, business and human rights, marginalized women and human rights defenders. These are further addressed in other relevant UPR submissions by Manushya Foundation and its partners.