Adverse Impact of Bilateral and Regional Free Trade Agreements:
THAILAND'S THIRD UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW CYCLE
 29 September 2021

Thailand will be reviewed by UN Member States on all its human rights record during its Third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) taking place on 10 November 2021 at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva (39th Session of the UPR Working Group).

To tell the truth behind #WhatsHappeningInThailand and to guarantee Recommending States make SMART recommendations that will hold the Thai government accountable on its international human rights obligations and will improve the situation on the ground, Manushya Foundation, local community members of the Thai CSO Coalition for the UPR and the Thai BHR Network, and partner Civil Society Organizations have prepared UPR Advocacy Factsheets addressing the most challenging human rights issues and providing community-led UPR recommendations to be made to the Thai government.

The UPR Factsheet on Adverse Impact of Bilateral and Regional Free Trade Agreements was prepared by FTA Watch, Manushya Foundation, and Thai BHR Network based on the Joint UPR Submission on Business & Human Rights in Thailand.

The UPR Factsheet examines the compliance of Thailand with the recommendations it received during its 2nd UPR cycle in relation to Adverse Impact of Bilateral and Regional Free Trade Agreements. Thailand is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and is a party to several bilateral and regional Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). Negotiations are underway for Thailand’s accession to other FTAs. Recently, in November 2020, Thailand signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Currently, Thailand is considering becoming a party to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Both FTAs seek to expand the scope of global governance over various economic issues outside of the UN and the WTO systems. To date, Thailand's accession to FTAs is largely opposed by civil society and local communities because of their adverse impacts on the rights and livelihoods of local communities, compounded by the lack of government transparency and public participation in the drafting and negotiation process of FTAs. During its 2nd UPR cycle, Thailand did not receive any recommendation directly addressing the adverse impacts of FTAs.

This factsheet addresses the challenges and issues that persist regarding Adverse Impact of Bilateral and Regional Free Trade Agreements include: 

 

  • The drafting and negotiation process of FTAs lack transparency and local communities are not consulted

  • FTAs negatively affect the livelihoods of local communities by promoting the exploitation of resources and biodiversity

  • FTAs negatively affect local communities’ right to healthcare by undermining access to life-saving medicines at affordable prices

  • FTAs negatively affect local communities’ land rights as they face land grabbing and forced evictions

  • The Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) in FTAs limit the use of public policies to promote the protection of human rights and the environment

The UPR Factsheet includes community-led UPR recommendations for Recommending States to use when making their UPR recommendations to the Thai government and ensure their recommendations address the needs of local communities on the ground. It is critical for diplomats to make recommendations that are directly coming from communities to improve the human rights situation on the ground; as communities are experts of their issues: they live with the challenges and they also know the solutions they need to advance their human rights.

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