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Human rights in Thailand

04-07-2018

Thailand is one of several south-east Asian countries where the human rights situation has recently deteriorated. Following a military coup in May 2014, the junta clamped down on political dissent. In 2017 a new constitution restored some of the rights taken away in 2014, but the timing of elections remains uncertain and the military is likely to maintain political influence even after handing over power to a civilian government. Other long-standing concerns include abuses of migrant workers' labour ...

Thailand is one of several south-east Asian countries where the human rights situation has recently deteriorated. Following a military coup in May 2014, the junta clamped down on political dissent. In 2017 a new constitution restored some of the rights taken away in 2014, but the timing of elections remains uncertain and the military is likely to maintain political influence even after handing over power to a civilian government. Other long-standing concerns include abuses of migrant workers' labour rights and restrictions on freedom of expression.

Water disputes in the Mekong basin

17-04-2018

The Mekong is south-east Asia's longest river (around 4 900km). From its source in Tibet, it flows southwards through the Chinese province of Yunnan before passing through five south-east Asian countries (Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam). Nearly half of the river is in China, where it is known as the Lancang. For the 70 million people who live in the Mekong basin, the river is a vital source of food and water, as well as an important transport route. Increasingly, it is being used to ...

The Mekong is south-east Asia's longest river (around 4 900km). From its source in Tibet, it flows southwards through the Chinese province of Yunnan before passing through five south-east Asian countries (Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam). Nearly half of the river is in China, where it is known as the Lancang. For the 70 million people who live in the Mekong basin, the river is a vital source of food and water, as well as an important transport route. Increasingly, it is being used to generate hydroelectricity. Human activity threatens the river's fauna and flora, and competition for natural resources is intensifying.

Thailand in 2016: Restoring Democracy or Reversing it?

18-04-2016

After staging a military coup against the Yingluck Shinawatra government, a junta has been ruling Thailand since 22 May 2014. It has drastically restricted political activities and freedom of speech. There have been numerous human rights abuses, including torture. Under a ‘roadmap to democracy’, a referendum on a new constitution is planned for August 2017 and could be followed by elections at a later stage. However, the military might retain power until the king’s successor accedes to the throne ...

After staging a military coup against the Yingluck Shinawatra government, a junta has been ruling Thailand since 22 May 2014. It has drastically restricted political activities and freedom of speech. There have been numerous human rights abuses, including torture. Under a ‘roadmap to democracy’, a referendum on a new constitution is planned for August 2017 and could be followed by elections at a later stage. However, the military might retain power until the king’s successor accedes to the throne, in order to guarantee stability. Despite close trade ties, the EU has suspended the signing of a partnership and cooperation agreement and negotiations on a free trade agreement until democracy is restored. In April 2015, Thailand received a ‘yellow card’ warning by the European Commission for problems relating to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Addressing the Human Rights Impact of Statelessness in the EU’s External Action

12-11-2014

Statelessness is a significant human rights challenge: it is often a product of human rights problems, such as gender or racial discrimination, while it also has a serious and lasting impact on the enjoyment of other human rights. This study explores how the European Union can play a greater role in the fight against statelessness around the world as part of its external action on human rights issues. It demonstrates the nexus between statelessness and the EU’s current human rights priorities and ...

Statelessness is a significant human rights challenge: it is often a product of human rights problems, such as gender or racial discrimination, while it also has a serious and lasting impact on the enjoyment of other human rights. This study explores how the European Union can play a greater role in the fight against statelessness around the world as part of its external action on human rights issues. It demonstrates the nexus between statelessness and the EU’s current human rights priorities and identifies the ways in which the EU has already contributed to addressing statelessness in its external action. The study then discusses the ways in which the EU can strengthen its contribution to the fights against statelessness through multilateral action, bilateral action and improved institutional arrangements. Finally, the paper identifies a set of three thematic and five country priorities for EU engagement on statelessness, providing recommendations for action in each case.

Autor externo

Laura VAN WAAS (Tilburg University, The Netherlands)

Kingdom of Thailand: A Distressing Standoff

26-02-2014

Snap elections for Thailand’s House of Representatives were held on 2 February 2014 against a backdrop of public demonstrations, violence and political polarisation. Rather than end the crisis, the ballot has further enflamed the tense situation in the country, and re-run elections have yet to be completed in some constituencies. Between the 2011 general elections, won by the Pheu Thai Party (PTP), and November 2013, Thailand experienced a period of superficial calm. Yet, the divisions between PTP ...

Snap elections for Thailand’s House of Representatives were held on 2 February 2014 against a backdrop of public demonstrations, violence and political polarisation. Rather than end the crisis, the ballot has further enflamed the tense situation in the country, and re-run elections have yet to be completed in some constituencies. Between the 2011 general elections, won by the Pheu Thai Party (PTP), and November 2013, Thailand experienced a period of superficial calm. Yet, the divisions between PTP, backed by Thailand’s rural communities, and the opposition, supported mainly by Bangkok's middle class and by constituencies in the south, remained irreconcilable. The fragile political peace was broken when the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's (PTP) introduced an amnesty bill that would have allowed her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (deposed in 2006), to return from exile without being imprisoned for corruption. The political stalemate in Thailand, which has continued for eight years in one form or another, highlights the importance of holding a comprehensive debate about the country’s political culture and a thorough re-negotiation of the way in which it is governed. Yet such a prospect appears unlikely in the current situation, as positions are ever more entrenched.

Another Day of Protests in Bangkok, with No Compromise in Sight

15-01-2014

The European Union has called on all parties to seize the opportunity offered by the proposed early elections. Since 2011, Thailand’s government has restored stability and defused tensions… at least on the surface. Yet, the possibility of a new crisis was never excluded. Reforms proposed by the current Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, have proved controversial within her party and among the opposition. Yingluck withdrew support to a controversial amnesty bill after the Senate rejected it, but ...

The European Union has called on all parties to seize the opportunity offered by the proposed early elections. Since 2011, Thailand’s government has restored stability and defused tensions… at least on the surface. Yet, the possibility of a new crisis was never excluded. Reforms proposed by the current Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, have proved controversial within her party and among the opposition. Yingluck withdrew support to a controversial amnesty bill after the Senate rejected it, but failed to stop the brewing conflict. Thailand's Constitutional Court also ruled that the government’s attempts to re-establish a fully elected Senate were unconstitutional. Despite Yingluck's dissolution of the Parliament, protestors have continued to demonstrate, demanding the establishment of an unelected 'people's council'. Even if a short-term solution can be found, stability will be hard to achieve without a broad discussion on the political order.

The EU's Contribution to Member States' Services Promoting Foreign Trade and Investment: Value Added?

03-09-2013

The European business centres in Asia – and notably those in India, China and Thailand, which are already active – have yet to demonstrate that they offer significant value-added for European enterprises wishing to engage in Asian markets. Instead of being welcomed as EU complementarities, they are generally considered as duplications of Member States' own promotion instruments, and this in a field in which the EU as such does not hold competence. It is questionable why the EU's efforts to facilitate ...

The European business centres in Asia – and notably those in India, China and Thailand, which are already active – have yet to demonstrate that they offer significant value-added for European enterprises wishing to engage in Asian markets. Instead of being welcomed as EU complementarities, they are generally considered as duplications of Member States' own promotion instruments, and this in a field in which the EU as such does not hold competence. It is questionable why the EU's efforts to facilitate market access for European enterprises, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, were not built on the best practises of existing institutions, notably the bilateral chambers of commerce. The timing is also questionable: additional structures were created long before any assessment was undertaken of what is already available in third markets. The lack of coherence of the different EU centres' work plans, priority clusters and time frames impede Member States - also members of the consortiums of various EU centres – from integrating the EU centres into their own marketing activities. It is therefore little surprise that an independent evaluation of the effectiveness of these EU business centres in Asia revealed numerous flaws – an assessment that suggests the EU's strategy should be overhauled. It remains uncertain, however, whether and how the modest performance of the centres in India, China and Thailand will influence European Commission's plans for additional Asian centres.

Assessing the Implementation of the European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders - The Cases of Kyrgyzstan, Thailand and Tunisia

18-06-2013

With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty and the formation of the European Action Service, human rights defenders have received renewed attention in EU external relations. In June 2012 the EU launched its Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy including some benchmarked actions to take on behalf of HRDs and calling on EU Delegations and EU Member States missions to prepare human rights country strategies (HRCS) and to update the strategies annually. The 2008 revised ...

With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty and the formation of the European Action Service, human rights defenders have received renewed attention in EU external relations. In June 2012 the EU launched its Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy including some benchmarked actions to take on behalf of HRDs and calling on EU Delegations and EU Member States missions to prepare human rights country strategies (HRCS) and to update the strategies annually. The 2008 revised European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders (the Guidelines) provide a number of important recommendations for the EU and its Member State missions which have resulted in many good practice actions toward support and protection of HRDs. This study investigates the effective implementation of the Guidelines in Kyrgyzstan, Thailand and Tunisia, primarily from the viewpoints of diplomats and HRDs, with focus on the latter. Findings of this study suggest effective implementation of the Guidelines is uneven across European missions and there needs to be a joining up of the Guidelines’ recommendations with the new HRCS process. Recommendations to the EU and the European Parliament include mainstreaming knowledge of the Guidelines throughout EU sections and missions, taking a more considered approach to engagement with HRDs to create enabling human rights environments and ensuring attention to the most vulnerable HRDs.

Autor externo

Karen BENNETT (Human Rights at the Human Rights and Social Justice Research Institute - HRSJ, London Metropolitan University, the UK)

Access to Essential Medicines : Lessons Learned since the Doha Declaration on the Trips Agreement and Public Health, and Policy Options for the European Union

15-06-2007

The study evaluates the impact of the TRIPS agreement on access to medicines in developing countries and analyses the evolving legal framework. Special emphasis is given to the issue of compulsory licensing, including recent cases in Brazil and Thailand. The EU's own implementing regulation is also presented, as well as the considerations for any TRIPS-related provisions in bilateral trade agreements of the EU and the US. The TRIPS agreement and its amendment are discussed in light of the various ...

The study evaluates the impact of the TRIPS agreement on access to medicines in developing countries and analyses the evolving legal framework. Special emphasis is given to the issue of compulsory licensing, including recent cases in Brazil and Thailand. The EU's own implementing regulation is also presented, as well as the considerations for any TRIPS-related provisions in bilateral trade agreements of the EU and the US. The TRIPS agreement and its amendment are discussed in light of the various public health, commercial, legal and economic considerations and interests. The study also sets out conclusions and concrete recommendations to improve the overall framework of the TRIPS agreement and access to medicines.

Autor externo

Frederick M. Abbott (Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, U.S.A.) and Jerome H. Reichman (Duke University School of Law, Durham, North Carolina, U.S.A.)

The Role of Parliaments in Scrutinising and Influencing Trade Policy

04-12-2005

The study covers most important aspects of national parliaments' involvement in trade issues, including the WTO parliamentary conference and interparliamentary relations. It examines parliaments' working style, "legislative-executive relations", the channels of parliamentary scrutiny and the general impact of parliaments' activities on government policy and WTO outcomes. The study includes 11 country studies on the trade scrutiny activities and competences of parliamentary bodies in the United States ...

The study covers most important aspects of national parliaments' involvement in trade issues, including the WTO parliamentary conference and interparliamentary relations. It examines parliaments' working style, "legislative-executive relations", the channels of parliamentary scrutiny and the general impact of parliaments' activities on government policy and WTO outcomes. The study includes 11 country studies on the trade scrutiny activities and competences of parliamentary bodies in the United States, Mexico, Australia, Russia, South Africa, Iran, Thailand, Switzerland, India, Brazil and Japan.

Autor externo

Dr Andreas Maurer Project Leader

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