International Organization for Migration, FORUM-ASIA, Community Resources Centre, and International Commission of Jurists Co-host Consultations on Thailand’s National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights

Date: Nov 16, 2020
Location(s): Bangkok

Bangkok – On 12 and 13 November, civil society representatives discussed the implementation of Thailand’s National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights and presented their recommendations to UN agencies, embassies, and the Ministry of Justice of the Royal Thai Government.

The event, organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), FORUM-ASIA, Community Resources Centre Foundation (CRC), International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and relevant civil society organizations, involved joint consultations with over 90 representatives from Thai civil society on each pillar of the National Action Plan. Recommendations provided by these partners build off their field-level experience monitoring, preventing and addressing human rights violations facing individual workers, including migrant workers, and local communities in the context of international business operations.  

"It has been a year since Thailand began to implement the National Action Plan, whose progress has been closely monitored by NGOs and CSOs. This event creates the opportunity for organizations to share good practices, challenges and lesson learned,” said Rattanamenee Polkla, Lawyer and Executive Coordinator at the CRC. “We hope the outcomes from the meeting will support all stakeholders in better implementing the National Action Plan and improving the Business and Human Rights environment in Thailand during the coming years," Ms. Polka added.

Thailand was the first country in Asia to launch its National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights, in October 2019. The document paves the road for implementation of the 2011 United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGP) on Business and Human Rights at the national level. Following the UNGP framework, the Thai National Action Plan recognizes the responsibility of the Royal Thai Government to protect human rights, the responsibility of businesses in respecting them, and the responsibility of Government and businesses to provide all workers, including migrant workers, with access to effective remediation. 

“Migrant workers are key contributors to the Thai economy, but are still at risk of unethical recruitment and labour rights violations. IOM welcomes the efforts of the Royal Thai Government to ensure that businesses respect and protect the rights of migrant workers, through the National Action Plan. In particular, we welcome the commitment to review national laws and guidelines, and to promote the “employer pays principle” across Thai businesses,” said Geraldine Ansart, Chief of Mission at IOM Thailand. 

Civil society representatives, from groups who discussed each of the key areas of the National Action Plan, presented a list of recommendations to the Ministry of Justice of the Royal Thai Government during the public hearing on 13 November. The recommendations outlined the way forward in four key areas of the National Action Plan: (1) labour; (2) communities, land, natural resources, and the environment; (3) human rights defenders; and (4) international investment and international standards.

Following the event, the Community Resources Centre Foundation (CRC) consolidated the feedback from civil society into a summary paper, which will feed into the first Business and Human Rights report that is being developed by the Ministry of Justice and its partners. This step is crucial to ensuring that insights from Thai civil society are taken into consideration by the Ministry of Justice during the National Action Plan annual review that will take place in December 2020, which will in turn inform the implementation strategy for the Action Plan in the upcoming years. 
As the world continues to adjust to and live with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the focus on the rights of all workers, including migrant workers, within global supply chains has never been more important. The presence and continued support of the Royal Thai Government at these multi-stakeholder consultations is essential to strengthening the protection of all migrant workers, especially as the world defines “the new normal”.  
These advocacy efforts are part of IOM Corporate Responsibility in Eliminating Slavery and Trafficking (CREST) project funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and CREST Fashion initiative funded by Laudes Foundation. CREST is a regional partnership that aims to realize the potential of business to uphold the human and labour rights of migrant workers in their operations and supply chains.

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