BANGKOK, Thailand — Following up on the outcomes of the First Experts Meeting, the Manushya Foundation, together with members of the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR, brought back together relevant stakeholders for the Second Experts Meeting to discuss the findings and recommendations of the CSO National Baseline Assessment (NBA) on Business & Human Rights in Thailand, held on 28 February - 1 March 2018, at the Elizabeth Hotel, in Bangkok, Thailand. The Ministry of Justice and Thailand's Representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), who is also serving as the Senior Advisor to the NAP Committee, were invited to cooperate so they could gather information for the government's NAP. Through this cooperation, organizers wished to provide a safe space for participants, by securing the protection of local communities and human rights defenders engaging in Manushya Foundation’s Business & Human Rights strategy.
The 2-day meeting greatly benefited from the invaluable participation and contribution of Professor Surya Deva, Member of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, as well as from Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn, International Human Rights Law Expert and Professor Emeritus at Chulalongkorn University. It brought together national, regional, and international experts in the field of Business & Human Rights, including: community leaders, civil society representatives, academics, the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Representative of Thailand to the AICHR and the Thai government.
Throughout the meeting, participants discussed challenges in developing an inclusive and rights-based NAP on business and human rights and reinforced local communities as central actors to respond to business and human rights challenges in Thailand. The meeting also analysed steps taken by the Government to protect, respect and fulfil human rights while economically growing and was the occasion for Manushya, and members of the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR, to present baseline research findings and recommendations. This ensured a bottom-up approach was taken in the NAP process, with the aim of achieving a grounded, evidence-based NAP on business and human rights.
It was also the occasion for Manushya Foundation and members of the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR to re-affirm the content of their Independent CSO National Baseline Assessment (NBA) on business and human rights, aiming at capturing the realities of business conducts on the ground and comprehensively identifying gaps and solutions to improve the business and human rights response in Thailand. For instance, in terms of the content of the NBA, Manushya decided to focus on four dimensions:
Business activities impacting labour rights and standards;
Business activities impacting indigenous rights, community rights, livelihoods, land-related rights and the environment;
Business activities undermining the protection of human rights defenders;
Impacts of trade agreement on access to affordable medicines, food security and workers' rights.
It shall be noted that issues related to Thai outbound investments and extraterritorial obligations have been documented by the ETOs Watch Working Group, which has developed briefing papers and lobbied the UNWG on BHR and the Thailand Representative to AICHR with key recommendations to inform the NAP, during the UN Forum on BHR, held in Geneva in November 2017. As a result, the Independent CSO NBA being developed by Manushya Foundation and members of the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR would refer to the work undertaken by the ETOs Watch Working Group for challenges and recommendations related to Thai outbound investments.
The Second Experts Meeting offered a valuable opportunity to showcase the power of community-led research and to highlight community and experts recommendations to further finalise the CSO National Baseline Assessment (NBA), and ultimately ensure an actionable NAP on business and human rights in Thailand.
Check out the report to see the real cost of business activities on human rights for local communities in Thailand.
Access the report here.
View photos from the Second Experts Meeting here.