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.
Overcoming statelessness in Thailand
There are about 500,000 stateless people in Thailand, of whom over 100,000 are children. Recently, various national agencies, supported by UNHCR and Unicef, hosted a national consultation on statelessness. It was a timely opportunity to identify preferred directions.
Poll outcome invites shared wisdom
That was the week that was, beginning on May 14, 2023, Thailand's monumental and momentous national election day. The results of the election were historically in favour of democratic change, with the Move Forward Party (MFP) gaining the most seats in the Lower House. It is leading a coalition of parties, aspiring to form the next government and winning over 310 seats in total, despite shenanigans from arch-conservatives.
Some good news for freedom of speech
The World Press Freedom Day, concurrently May 3, was celebrated recently with a panel discussion at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand, which provided a fresh opportunity to catch up with news, especially on Thailand. It was also an occasion to reflect on international developments concerning the shrinking space for the free flow of information ("info-inhibition") in various settings.
Building bridges from Asia to Africa the right way
The quest to build bridges between Asia and Africa is longstanding. A Chinese Admiral -- Zheng He -- led a series of voyages from East Asia to East Africa, down to Kenya and possibly Zanzibar, from the year 1405. The ships he navigated were enormous -- about 400 feet long and 100 feet wide (122 metres by 30.5m) -- especially when compared with Christopher Columbus' Santa Maria, which was about 70 feet long. For centuries, people have also migrated and traded between the two regions.
Oceanic ripples as our common heritage
There are currently three key issues pertaining to the marine environment: climate change, loss of biodiversity and pollution. The world's oceans are affected by the degradation of the land, sea and air, which have enormous consequences for the well-being of all living beings, including marine life. The advent of a new international agreement on the protection of the oceans is thus welcome and needs to be followed up effectively.
Righting the wrongs of development
A key issue with which the world community has had to grapple since the end of the Second World War is that of "development", especially from the angle of national and international measures to ensure responsiveness to the rights and needs of the peoples of the land, without discrimination and violence, and to overcome historical and other injustices.
Humanising policy towards refugees
The recent death of a Uighur man -- who had sought refuge in Thailand and was subsequently detained for nearly a decade, was a sad reflection of the unbalanced response towards persons who seek refuge, or "refugees", in this country. Various groups currently seek protection from persecution, armed conflicts and key human rights violations in their country of origin, and they deserve to be treated decently and humanely.
Lessons from the Khmer Rouge tribunal
One of the saddest episodes of Southeast Asian history was the period during the 1970s that witnessed the rule of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. The group was driven by a warped ideology, and it perpetrated myriad crimes against the general population. Millions were killed and displaced through a range of atrocities. Decades later, an internationally supported tribunal, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), or the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, was set up to prosecute the leaders of the group, and it is now ending its work. What are some of the key lessons the global community can learn from this?
Celebrating human rights in 2023
This year is a time to remember and reiterate two key instruments which have shaped responses to human rights implementation since the end of World War II in 1945. It was the task of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), based on a Resolution of the UN General Assembly adopted in 1948, to identify and list a number of key rights of a global nature.
Ukraine, the UN and the ties that bind
The United Nations (UN) represents the pinnacle of the post-Second World War system. But just how effective is it today in the face of the crisis facing Ukraine, triggered by its next door neighbour Russia?