Mekong Region: ICJ convenes a meeting with stakeholders to address the human rights concerns regarding Special Economic Zones

The ICJ, together with Chulalongkorn University’s Center for Social Development Studies (CSDS), held a consultative meeting on 10 August 2022 with a wide range of stakeholders involved in helping the Mekong countries set up SEZs to discuss the adverse human rights consequences of the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in the region at the Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University.

Fifty-one participants from civil society, UN agencies, development agencies, governmental officers, corporates, the diplomatic community, and academia attended the event.

The discussion touched on a range of human rights concerns including abuses of the rights to adequate housing and livelihoods; detrimental impacts on the environment; labour rights abuses; and failure to ensure transparency, consultation and accountability. Panelists also discussed the weaknesses or gaps in the existing legal framework, as well as offered recommendations to help protect human rights in the context of the further development of SEZs.

A regional advocacy note, compiling inputs and concerns shared by members of the civil society from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, was used as a basis for the discussion.

Associate Professor Dr. Ake Tangsupvattana, the Dean of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Political Science, delivered opening remarks. A panel discussion on prevailing human rights concerns then followed, moderated by Premrudee Daoroung from the Project SEVANA South-East Asia and Asst. Prof. Dr. Carl Middleton, Chulalongkorn University’s CSDS.

The two discussion sessions included the following speakers:

  • Sanhawan Srisod, ICJ’s Legal Adviser;
  • Pornpana Kuaycharoen, Land Watch Thai;
  • William Schulte, Earth Rights International;
  • Raweeporn Dokmai, Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF);
  • Seree Nonthasoot, Member, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;
  • Stefan Kratzsch, Industrial Development Officer, Investment and Technology Promotion Division, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO);
  • Dr. Amara Pongsapich, Representative of Thailand to ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR); and
  • Prof. Dr. Naruemon Thabchumpon, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University

Further reading

The Human Rights Consequences of the Eastern Economic Corridor and Special Economic Zones in Thailand

Special Economic Zones in Myanmar and the State Duty to Protect Human Rights

Mekong Region: Authorities must address the adverse impacts of economic activity in SEZs on the environment and human rights


Sanhawan Srisod, Associate International Legal Adviser, ICJ Asia Pacific Programme; e: Sanhawan.srisod(a)

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