Global crises demand unified action
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Global crises demand unified action

The world is facing unprecedented crises. Without revitalising the collective spirit backed by action, the survival of humanity could be at risk.

Over the past several years, our planet has been through many tribulations -- the Covid-19 pandemic, an ongoing conflict in Europe between Russia and Ukraine, wars and humanitarian crises in the Middle East, Myanmar and African countries, not to mention climate change. New technological advancements such as artificial intelligence (AI), cyberspace, and space technology also pose threats to international order and global trade.

All these contemporary challenges show that the world needs a more efficient international rules-based multilateral system. Topics on this matter will be discussed in "The Summit of the Future: Multilateral Solutions for a Better Tomorrow" -- a United Nations summit in New York on Sept 22-23. The summit has already been dubbed a "once-in-a-generation opportunity" to effect global change in ways that would promote solidarity among the international community and all citizens without leaving anyone behind.

The meeting is expected to provide action plans and solidify collaborations for countries to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals, which has a deadline of 2030, something that is still found wanting, with only 15% of SDGs being on track.

At the summit, national leaders will sign the "Pact for the Future", prepared by Germany and Namibia early this year. On May 15, the latest revised draft was circulated for comments. It contained 52 actions under five key chapters touching on sustainable development, peace and security, science and technology, youth and future generations, and global governance. Currently, the draft is being negotiated by UN members.

As an active member of the UN, Thailand views the upcoming summit as an opportunity to share some of its best practices and lessons learnt from national and regional experiences. Thailand has contributed ideas and cooperation towards the five chapters outlined by the pact to boost UN authority and the multilateral system.

This time around, Thailand wants to do more. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already held a consultative meeting with stakeholders, including marginalised groups, to gather their input. The meeting's deliberations and outcome will be incorporated and become part of the country's positions and contributions during the summit.

The newly appointed Thai permanent representative to the United Nations, Cherdchai Chaivaivid, told the Bangkok Post that the success of the summit would depend on innovative solutions to emerging global challenges. He reiterated that the "Pact for the Future", which will be the outcome document signed by the leaders of UN members in September, must be ambitious and visionary, reflecting the views of all countries and stakeholders with a broad consensus. "Recommended actions must also strengthen the multilateralism system and promote the implementation of existing commitments," he added.

Judging by the country's involvement with various global issues under UN frameworks, Thailand has a lot to say on issues related to sustainable development, sufficiency economy philosophy, global health, peace and security, and climate change, among others. Although the country's records on these endeavours are not perfect, they nonetheless provide some practical ideas for the majority of the UN members to ponder.

First of all, the economic model known as Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) -- coined by the Prayut Chan-o-cha government -- has already gained global recognition since it was adopted at an Apec meeting in Bangkok in 2022. Although the Srettha government has not promoted BCG internationally, it can still be used to promote sustainable development, production and consumption.

It must be said that the current Apec chair, Chile, and the former chair, the US, have embraced the BCG model in the Apec measures for sustainable development. Since 2016, Thailand has also served as a coordinator between the UN and Asean for their joint efforts for sustainable development. Concerning the green economy, Thailand has aligned its future cooperation with leading economies such as Japan, China, the UK, and the US to improve green technologies.

Furthermore, Thailand's experience during the Covid-19 pandemic can be shared as stories of decentralised surveillance systems in public health. Thailand has used village health volunteers in each tambon (district) for three decades, and these volunteers proved to be an indispensable medical resource during the pandemic.

In the Thai case, early detection helped to reduce the risk of a wider spread of the disease. The county's 30-baht cure-all health coverage has been hailed by the World Health Organization and the international community. The coverage has also covered millions of migrant workers inside the country. As part of South-South cooperation, Thailand has given funding and know-how to developing countries in Africa and the Pacific Islands in health care.

Thailand has also been active in supporting every UN effort to promote peace and security and full respect for the international rule of law. Notably, issues related to disarmament and empowering women in UN peacekeeping forces have long been advocated. Its voting records at the UN also show Thailand's strong support for the UN Charter and its principles, much to the chagrin of great powers.

In addition, Thailand and its Asean colleagues have been ensuring that the region will be a zone of peace and prosperity without the threat of nuclear weapons. Asean-led mechanisms could provide some best practices, especially when it comes to preventive strategies and consensus building. Asean ideals encourage cooperation, not confrontation. Most importantly, it prevents any hegemonic tendency by the great powers.

Another important element of the pact will be human rights and social justice. Thailand has a chequered record on these issues. Although Thailand has signed eight of nine international conventions on civil and political rights, the implementation of all these human rights instruments is far from sufficient. Controversies related to Section 112 must be addressed because it involves Thai youth and future generations that will become the country's driving force -- one of the pact's key chapters.

To become a leading advocate of the pact, the country's executive and judicial branches must undertake major reforms; otherwise, the country's long-standing efforts and achievements in the rights-based approach will be forgotten. As such, Thailand must leverage the idea of global governance. Otherwise, the country will be forever stuck with the same negative narratives that Thailand is not a democracy and that it disrespects human rights and freedom of expression.

All told, Thailand will take an active role along with other colleagues from developing countries to ensure that the pact will be comprehensive and inclusive, which will inspire the UN members and their citizens to implement it.

Kavi Chongkittavorn

A veteran journalist on regional affairs

Kavi Chongkittavorn is a veteran journalist on regional affairs

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