Thailand Presents at the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by its States parties. All States parties are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee on how the rights are being implemented. The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of “concluding observations”.

Wanchai Roujanavong, Director-General of the International Affairs Department said that the 2014 Interim Constitution guaranteed all human rights and dignity as the previous Constitution and the current Government had passed or upgraded a number of human rights-related laws, including the Gender Equality Act and the Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act. Committee Experts took note of the recent profound political changes in Thailand and inquired how it had affected the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights in the country, expressing concern overall about the lack of protection for illegal migrants and about disproportionate poverty and economic marginalization of hill tribes and ethnic minorities in the north and north-eastern provinces. 

Experts were worried about the negative impact of the Orders of the National Council for Peace and Order on forest conservation on rural communities, including through forced evictions and destruction of food crops. In response, the Delegation explained that non-discrimination was a basic principle in the 2007 Constitution, while the draft 2015 Constitution added new grounds for the prohibition of discrimination based on gender expression. The sweeping powers given to the military by the Interim Constitution aimed to restore peace and security in the country. 
The Administrative Court had suspended many industrial projects for the lack of environmental or health impact assessment, which were requirements in the 2007 Constitution. There are many ethnic groups at risk of disappearing, and the government is trying to protect them with awareness campaigns and trying to increase tourism in those areas to make them a known reality. Indigenous peoples have access to natural resources (although they don’t own the land), to basic services and medical care. 
The law provides equal access to health care, without any socio-economic discrimination, so even migrant and irregular workers can access it. To address the growing needs for protection of irregular migrants, Thailand had in place a policy to screen migrants for victims of trafficking and people smuggling, as well as a strategy on prevention (blocking the phenomenon in the origin country).