Thai Voices from the Ground: Pre-sessions on Thailand held in Bangkok

On 14-16 March 2016, UPR Info Asia organized the Bangkok UPR Info’s Pre-Session entitled “Voices from the Ground: Thai CSOs engaging in Thailand 2nd UPR Media Briefing & Inclusive Diplomatic Dialogue on the Human Rights Situation in Thailand.” The purpose of the UPR Info’s Pre-Session was for the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR to be the “agents of change,” bringing solutions to the Thai government with UN Member States acting as a main bridge, prior to Thailand’s 2nd UPR on 11 May 2016. The Bangkok UPR Info’s Pre-Session was held in cooperation with Amnesty International Thailand, the Embassy of Switzerland in Thailand, with support from the EU Delegation in Thailand.
 
On 14 March, members of the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR prepared for their constructive interventions with the media and diplomats. Emilie Pradichit, UPR Info’s Asia Regional Representative, trained participants on UPR Statements and tips for CSOs to intervene with diplomats: she emphasized on the importance of engaging in the UPR inclusive diplomatic dialogue constructively, by informing when progress has been made in implementing the 1st cycle UPR recommendations, providing solutions to diplomats rather than naming and shaming the Thai government. In the afternoon, Ms. Ua-phan Chamnan-ua, a media expert, provided information and tips to support CSOs’ interventions with the media as well as explained the format of the media briefing and the importance of triggering journalists’ attention with powerful interventions.
 
On 15 March, UPR Info Asia and Amnesty International Thailand co-organized a Media Briefing on Thailand’s 2nd UPR to ensure members of the CSO Coalition could present their recommendations to journalists. Piyanut Kotsan, Interim Director of Amnesty International Thailand, presented an overview of the human rights situation in Thailand, while Parinya Boonridrerthaikul, Director of Asylum Access Thailand and leader of the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR, provided an overview of Thailand’s 1st UPR Cycle. Emilie Pradichit stressed on the important role the media could play in working together with civil society actors and in portraying CSOs as the “Voices of Reason” proposing concrete solutions to improve the human rights situation on the ground. In the afternoon, 4 CSO representatives addressed the media and provided them with the Thai version of the UPR Advocacy Factsheets providing an overview of the human rights situation in Thailand and proposing concrete recommendations to improve the livelihoods of Thai people.
 
On 16 March, the UPR Inclusive Diplomatic Dialogue between Thai local groups and diplomats was organized by UPR Info Asia, the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR, and the Embassy of Switzerland in Thailand. The purpose of the diplomatic dialogue was to ensure local voices could be heard by the 26 states which attended. It gave the opportunity to local human rights organizations to voice their concerns, present on the 22 most challenging human rights issues in Thailand and to propose concrete and SMART recommendations to the international community, as identified by the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR in their UPR Advocacy Factsheets (English version).
 
Overall, the Bangkok UPR Info’s Pre-Session on 14-16 March 2016 brought together 59 members of the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR, from 34 organizations across Thailand, Commissioner Angkhana Neelapaijit from the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, and more than 35 diplomats representing 26 states. UPR Info Asia will continue to support the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR in being the “Agents of Change”, providing concrete solutions and engaging in dialogue with the government to improve the lives of communities. Through the Bangkok UPR Info’s Pre-Session, members of the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR have expressed their wish to collaborate and to be constructive when engaging with the Thai government in the UPR Process. They have urged foreign diplomats to look at all human rights issues, in an inclusive manner, so that no one is left behind in Thailand 2nd UPR. You can access their Press Statement released after the Diplomatic Dialogue held on 16 March here.    
 
A smaller delegation of the Thai CSO Coalition for the UPR will address diplomats during the UPR Info’s Pre-Session in Geneva, on 30 March 2016.