Columnnist

Vitit Muntarbhorn

Professor of law at Chulalongkorn University

Vitit Muntarbhorn is professor emeritus at the Law Faculty, Chulalongkorn University. He has helped the UN in a various positions, including as UN Special Rapporteur, UN Independent Expert and member of UN Commissions of Inquiry on human rights.

Vitit Muntarbhorn
18 May 2022

Remembering Bloody May 1992

This month commemorates the 30-year anniversary of the Bloody May events in 1992 that witnessed extensive violence against street demonstrators and the subsequent fall of the military-linked government that had come to power due to the 1991 coup. What then are some of the lessons to remember, resonating from the past to the present and the future?

18 May 2022 21
Remembering Bloody May 1992
4 May 2022

Making change via K-Pop and Thai-Y

K-Pop and artistic ripples through films and other forms of entertainment from South Korea have been conquering the world in recent years, as part of soft power and smart power.

4 May 2022 16
Making change via K-Pop and Thai-Y
20 Apr 2022

UN General Assembly must assert itself

The recent vote in the UN General Assembly (GA) suspending Russia from the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), due to its conduct in Ukraine, in early April 2022 is a rare instance of the GA asserting its powers with binding force. Generally, only the UN Security Council (SC) can adopt measures; these are exemplified by sanctions adopted by the SC periodically against errant states, non-government armed groups and individuals. Is there then room for a more assertive GA, especially when the SC is dysfunctional?

20 Apr 2022 19
UN General Assembly must assert itself
31 Mar 2022

Cambodia's progress has been stalled

The situation in Cambodia can perhaps be described as straddling a testament and a predicament. The testament is the 30th anniversary of the Paris Peace Agreements (October 1991) which brought peace to the country after a long period of warfare and the "recent tragic past". It established a pivotal framework for human rights, democracy and sustainable development in the country.

31 Mar 2022 11
Cambodia's progress has been stalled
17 Mar 2022

Migration and climate change in Asia

The close connection between migration, human rights and climate change is increasingly self-evident, as "natural disasters" related to that linkage loom in many parts of the world. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) estimates that about 22.5 million people migrate each year within and across borders because of climate change and weather-linked disasters. These are all compounded by the spread of Covid-19 in terms of lockdowns and other restrictive measures.

17 Mar 2022 2
Migration and climate change in Asia
3 Feb 2022

Heed the global messages against discrimination

The past couple of months have seen two global developments sending strong messages against discrimination and exclusion. On Jan 13, the UN General Assembly adopted by consensus a key resolution against denial of the Holocaust, advocating stronger action against such a refutation on an international level.

3 Feb 2022 54
Heed the global messages against discrimination
19 Jan 2022

We cannot lose control of technology

The advent of Covid-19 has accentuated digitalisation and its close linkage with automation, algorithms, and artificial intelligence ("the three A's"). The Asian region interfaces closely with this phenomenon, especially because it is the most populous continent. It is also a region with a large number of non-democracies and semi-democracies. This panorama invites care to prevent misuse of those three As.

19 Jan 2022 9
We cannot lose control of technology
6 Jan 2022

Tackling the controversial NGO law

Does Thailand need a law to regulate the operations of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), otherwise known as non-profit organisations (NPOs)? A draft law has emerged recently which is causing a lot of headaches for civil society. The cabinet on Tuesday approved this draft in principle; it is now being forwarded to the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security for a public hearing, before it is sent to parliament for final approval. The authorities claim the new law is required to make the work of NGOs more transparent and to counter money-laundering.

6 Jan 2022 4
Tackling the controversial NGO law
20 Dec 2021

Thais leaving their mark in the law

In 2021 Thailand benefited from at least two good pieces of news in regard to international law, a subject closely interlinked with international relations.

20 Dec 2021 10
Thais leaving their mark in the law
1 Dec 2021

Stop deporting Cambodian refugees

The recent deportation of three internationally recognised Cambodian refugees provoked an international outcry, much to Thailand's embarrassment. The first two were deported from Thailand on Nov 9, while the third was sent back home on Nov 20 to also face the risk of political persecution. Such efforts to "push back" refugees have regrettably tarnished Thailand's generally commendable policy and practice of offering refuge to persons fleeing persecution and other dangers from foreign territories. This is all the more poignant since Thailand's human rights record is in the middle of being assessed in Geneva under the UN's Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

1 Dec 2021 14
Stop deporting Cambodian refugees