Thailand: The Protection of Human Rights Defenders in the Context of Business and Human Rights

United Nations Development Programme. September 27, 2023

UNDP conducted a study on “the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs)” at the request of the Ministry of Justice to support the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) on Business and Human Rights and the promotion of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) in Thailand. This initiative is supported by the European Union.

The study documents instances of violations of HRDs’ rights from 1993 to 2022 and explores pressing issues within the context of business and human rights in Thailand. It also presents an overview of the existing mechanisms to address such violations, their shortcomings, and the necessary steps to ameliorate the situation.

The study reveals that an inconsistent level of understanding and recognition toward the role of HRDs among government agencies and business sectors remains a major barrier, leading to a greater vulnerability of HRDs. The study also discloses that key actors in the judicial system — judges, public prosecutors and even lawyers — play a critical role in the process of ensuring that HRDs enjoy a heightened degree of protection as well as appropriate access to remedial measures.

Lastly, the study’s findings point to the urgent need to establish policies and programmes to boost awareness within, and coordination among, both the public sector agencies and the business sector, to buttress the legitimate activities of HRDs and create a safe and enabling environment for HRDs to exercise their rights to defend the public interest1.

The protection of human rights lies at the core of rights-centred development. Undoubtedly, the work of HRDs is vital for the advancement of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, which lays a solid foundation for sustainable development.

UNDP is therefore committed to working with its partners, including government agencies, business communities, human rights defenders and civil society, to translate the results of this study into concrete action and to further ensure full realization of human rights for all and successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Thailand.

  1. Bold Highlight from Focus Observatory
[United Nations Development Programme]