Thailand: ICJ and German Embassy mark Human Rights Day as the Universal Declaration turns 70

On 7 December 2018, the ICJ, together with the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany to Thailand, held an event at the German Ambassador’s Residence in Bangkok to mark Human Rights Day.

This was the fourth event co-hosted annually by the ICJ and the German Embassy as an early commemoration of International Human Rights Day, which falls on 10 December every year on the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

Ambassador-Designate H.E. Georg Schmidt delivered the opening address for the event, highlighting the importance of the principle of universality of human rights and noting the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights where that principle was enshrined.

ICJ’s Asia and the Pacific Director Frederick Rawski then delivered opening remarks, welcoming Germany’s long-standing support of the work of ICJ and its partners in Thailand in advancing the rule of law and human rights. He highlighted some positive developments in the human rights situation and stressed upon continuing challenges, in the context of potential upcoming elections in February 2019. He also recognized the crucial work of human rights defenders in Thailand.

Yaowalak Anuphan, Head of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), opened the discussion on the current human rights situation in Thailand, particularly focusing on challenges in the legal landscape and fundamental freedoms in the context of potential upcoming elections.

A panel discussion on prevailing human rights concerns then followed, moderated by ICJ’s Frederick Rawski. The discussion touched on a range of themes including land rights and the rights of indigenous peoples; human rights violations in the Deep South; Business and Human Rights and Thailand’s National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights; and refugee and migrants’ rights.

The panelists were:

  • Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, Director, Cross Cultural Foundation;
  • Waesonk Baneng, Lawyer, Muslim Attorney Centre Foundation;
  • Sor Rattanamanee Polkla, Coordinator and Lawyer, Community Resource Centre Foundation;
  • Yuhanee Jehka, Legal Officer, Asylum Access Thailand.

Approximately 80 individuals from Thai civil society, the diplomatic community, affected communities, academia, and Thailand’s Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Foreign Affairs attended the event.