Thailand: From the review to the UPR follow-up phase with the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR

Over the past 12 months UPR Info Asia has brought together perhaps the widest coalition of Thai CSOs to date. The formation of the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR has enabled local communities from different regions of Thailand, experiencing similar challenges, to meet each other and build solidarity. With a committed coalition, CSOs work together as a strong national movement towards a more representative UPR process to bring about change in their country whilst keeping the Royal Thai Government accountable on its international and development obligations. 
 
From the development of UPR Advocacy Factsheets, to supporting the Coalition’s lobbying efforts both at the country level and in Geneva during UPR Info’s Pre-sessions, the next steps for UPR Info Asia were: (1) to raise awareness during Thailand 2nd UPR on 11 May 2016; and (2) to seize the momentum to kick-off the UPR follow-up phase. 
 

“Make Human Rights a Reality for All”: Live Webcast of Thailand 2nd UPR, 11 May 2016
 
On 11 May 2016 the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR in support with UPR Info Asia, Justice for Peace Foundation, iLaw, Amnesty International Thailand, Forum-Asia, ICJ, and with the financial support from the EU Delegation to Thailand, co-organised the Live Webcast of Thailand’s 2nd UPR at the Black Box Café in Bangkok, Thailand.  The event “Make Human Rights a Reality for All” was organised to raise awareness on the UPR process amongst the general public, and gathered more than 120 participants across multiple sectors such as the media, civil society organisations, UN agencies, and diplomats. All joined to watch as the Royal Thai Government’s record on all its human rights obligations was reviewed by UN Member States. As a result of Thailand’s review, the Royal Thai Government received 249 recommendations from 99 UN Member States. 181 recommendations were accepted during the review and 68 recommendations are pending final adoption on 23 September 2016. The live webcast was followed by a panel discussion looking at 'What’s next after the UPR of Thailand? UPR Follow-up to improve the Human Rights Situation on the Ground'.  Moderated by well-known journalist, Pravit Rojanaphruk from Khaosod English, the panel discussion involved reflections from key UPR stakeholders who shared their proposed actions for follow-up on the UPR recommendations, particularly given the current political context of Thailand.
 
Speakers included:
  • Parinya Boonridrerthaikul, Coordinator of the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR;
  • Angkhana Neelapaijit, Commissioner, National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, NHRCT;
  • Daniel Fieller, Second Secretary, British Embassy in Bangkok;
  • Emilie Pradichit, Asia Regional Representative, UPR Info Asia; and
  • Imesh Pokharel, Thailand Team Leader, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, OHCHR.
 
CSO Strategy Workshop on Implementation of UPR Recommendations, 23-27 August 2016
 
On 23-27 August 2016 UPR Info Asia along with the Working Group of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand for Following Up and Assessing the State’s Compliance with Recommendations upon Thailand 2nd UPR (WG-NHRCT), and the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR, with the financial support from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the EU Delegation to Thailand, co-organised the CSO Strategy Workshop on Implementation of UPR Recommendations: 'Working Together to Foster Solidarity in Implementing Thailand 2nd Cycle UPR Recommendations & Advancing the Human Rights Situation on the Ground', in Bangkok, Thailand.
 
The 5-day CSO Workshop officially kicked-off the UPR follow-up phase in Thailand and was opened by Mr. Charnchao Chaiyanukij, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice. Mr Chaiyanukij stressed the importance of the UPR process for the Royal Thai Government seeing the UPR as an effective tool for constructive engagement with CSOs to enable open dialogue and to bring positive change to the country. He was followed by Opening Remarks from Mr. Miloon Kothari, UPR Info’s President and former UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing; Mrs. Margaret Tongue, Deputy Head of Mission, British Embassy in Bangkok; Mr. Somchai Homlaor, Member, Working Group of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand for Following Up and Assessing the State’s Compliance with Recommendations upon Thailand 2nd UPR (WG-NHRCT); and Mrs. Kanchana Patarachoke, Deputy Director-General, Department of International Organizations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
 
The workshop consisted of a pre-meeting on 23 August for the 46 new members of the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR, during which Emilie Pradichit, UPR Info Asia Regional Representative, provided them with an overview of the international human rights monitoring system (treaty bodies, special procedures, UPR), with an emphasis on the UPR process. Parinya Boonridrerthaikul, Coordinator of the Thai CSO Coalition for the UPR and Chalida Tajaroensuk, Chairperson of People’s Empowerment Foundation (PEF) presented on the engagement of CSOs from the NGO submission phase in 2015 to the review on 11 May 2016. The next four days, 24-27 August, consisted of UPR Info Asia building capacities of members of the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR on strategic engagement during the UPR follow-up phase, effective monitoring and implementation of UPR recommendations, including groups’ work to develop UPR implementation plans and CSO action strategies on the following issues: (1) Land Rights; (2) Business and Human Rights (including Natural Resources Management and Human Rights (Dam) and Mining, Petroleum, Environment and Human Rights); (3) Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (including sex workers issues, right to safe abortion, women living with HIV and female drug users); (4) Migrant Rights & Human Trafficking; (5) Asylum Seekers & Refugees; (6) The Rights of Indigenous Peoples; (7) The Rights of the Child; (8) Women’s Rights; (9) Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression (SOGIE) Rights; (10) The Rights of Persons with Disabilities; (11) The Rights of the Elderly; (12) Freedom of Opinion and Expression & Freedom of Assembly and Association; (13) Administration of Justice & Military Courts; (14) Torture; (15) Human Rights Situation in Southern Thailand; (16) Enforced Disappearances; (17) Death Penalty; (18) Human Rights Education and Training & International Legal Instruments; and (19) the NHRCT.   
 
Regional experiences from Malaysia, Myanmar, and India were also exchanged to further inspire the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR to develop effective strategies and monitoring tools for the UPR Process. Rizal Guaperas, from the Coalition of Malaysian NGOs in the UPR Process (COMANGO), stressed on the need to have a sustained approach moving forward as a coalition with a clear mandate and structure. Khin Ohmar, from the Burma/Myanmar UPR Forum underlined the need to protect local communities’ space through the UPR forum and shared the membership criteria developed by the CSO Coalition for Myanmar, lying mainly on local communities as members. Finally, Miloon Kothari, UPR Info’s President and former Convenor of the Working Group on Human Rights in India (WGHR) shared the Indian monitoring tool model, which has inspired UPR Info’s strategy in supporting the UPR follow-up phase on the ground. The CSO Strategy Workshop was also the opportunity for Commissioner Angkhana Neelapaijit, National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT), to provide an overview of the role of the newly created Working Group of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand for Following Up and Assessing the State’s Compliance with Recommendations upon Thailand 2nd UPR (WG-NHRCT).  


 
 
The workshop can be considered a success as it brought together more than 130 participants, including members of the Thai CSO Coalition for the UPR, representatives of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT), UN Agencies (FAO, UNDP, UNAIDS, OHCHR) and diplomats from the Australian, British, Canadian, German, United States, and Swiss Embassies as well as from the EU Delegation to Thailand – all committed to support the UPR implementation phase. As a follow-up, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a meeting on 13 September 2016 to inform line ministries about the outcomes of Thailand 2nd UPR and to allow members of the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR to share their concerns with them. Further, UPR Info Asia together with the Ministry of Justice, and the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR look forward to co-organising a 'National Dialogue to Foster Cooperation among all UPR Stakeholders' in December 2016 and to working together in ensuring voices from the ground can inform the 4th National Human Rights Action Plan to be in line with UPR recommendations.