NAKHON PATHOM, Thailand — As part of its Business & Human Rights strategy, and in order to inform the development of the CSO NBA in line with the first objective of ensuring communities’ challenges, needs and solutions are put at the centre of the business and human rights discourse in Thailand, Manushya Foundation, together with members of the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR, organised the First Experts Meeting to inform the CSO National Baseline Assessment (NBA) on Business & Human Rights in Thailand, which was held on 2-3 September 2017, at the Sampran Riverside Hotel, in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand. Since the Rights and Liberties Protection Department (RLPD) of the Ministry of Justice is the government agency responsible for the development of the National Action Plan (NAP) on Business & Human Rights, Manushya invited RLPD to collaborate to ensure communities and experts could also share knowledge with the Thai Government and inform the government's upcoming NAP. This secured a bottom-up approach was implemented in the NAP process, as well as provided a safe space for participants, by guaranteeing the protection of local communities and human rights defenders who engaged in Manushya Foundation’s Business & Human Rights strategy.
The First Experts Meeting 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 Representative of Thailand to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and the Thai government.
The meeting was the opportunity for Manushya Foundation to present its methodology to develop an Independent CSO National Baseline Assessment (NBA) on business and human rights in Thailand, including findings of its desk review, NBA dialogues and community led-research involving local communities and members of the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR. Through its work, Manushya Foundation and members of the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR have identified the following four main areas as the foundation for the CSO NBA:
1. Violations to labour standards:
Working conditions of formal and informal workers;
Migrant workers’ living and working conditions;
Sex workers’ abusive working conditions in the entertainment industry;
Violations of freedom of association and criminalisation of trade union membership;
Human trafficking and child labour;
Discrimination against marginalised and excluded communities: LGBTI, women, people living with HIV, drug users, religious minorities, indigenous peoples, stateless persons, and people with disabilities by private companies and/or in access to work;
Gender inequality and sexual harassment against women at the workplace.
2. Impacts on community rights, indigenous peoples, livelihoods, land-related rights, natural resources and the environment:
Violations of community right to information and right to participation;
Violations to the environment and communities’ rights to sustainable livelihoods impacted by development projects and negative management of natural resources;
Reclamation of the forest, Land grabbing and Special Economic Zones profiting State-owned enterprises and corporate actors;
Violations of the rights of indigenous peoples to their ancestral land and natural resources;
Extraterritorial obligations and cross-borders human rights violations negatively impacting the environment and communities in neighbouring countries.
3. The protection of human rights defenders:
Violations of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly of land and environmental human rights defenders opposing development projects and land grabbing;
Intimidation, threats, killings, enforced disappearances and judicial harassment (SLAPP cases) against environmental activists, land rights defenders, indigenous peoples and migrant workers speaking the truth.
4. Trade agreements and outbound investments:
Trade agreements negatively impacting labour rights, food security and access to affordable medicines;
Thai outbound investments financing controversial development projects.
By giving communities and experts a platform to share about their experiences of business and human rights and to offer recommendations based on affected communities' lived realities and good practices, the event endeavoured to guarantee accurate data and lessons learned were shared to shape and influence the evidence-based CSO NBA and the government NAP. Further, the First Experts Meeting resulted in the Representative of the Rights and Liberties Protection Department (RLPD) of the MoJ making the commitment to consider the independent CSO NBA as an official document to inform the goverment's NAP. Manushya Foundation, Thai CSOs and experts were pleased that the key challenges identified would ultimately influence the government's NAP on BHR, to be released in September 2018.
Check out the reports to see what experts and local communities have to say on tackling Business & Human Rights in Thailand!
Access the report here.
View pictures of the Experts Meeting here.