Thais must join Global Peace Summit
text size

Thais must join Global Peace Summit

Thai soldiers assemble before they are deployed to South Sudan for a UN peacekeeping mission on Dec 22, 2018. Thailand continues to engage with the international community to find peaceful solutions to conflicts. Apichit Jinakul
Thai soldiers assemble before they are deployed to South Sudan for a UN peacekeeping mission on Dec 22, 2018. Thailand continues to engage with the international community to find peaceful solutions to conflicts. Apichit Jinakul

This weekend, Thailand will join 100-plus countries at the Burgenstock Resort in Switzerland for the upcoming Global Peace Summit. Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines have confirmed their participation. East Timor, which is expected to become a full Asean member in the future, is also participating.

Deputy Foreign Minister Russ Jalichandra will represent Thailand at the Burgenstock summit. Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin confirmed Thailand's participation during his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron on his recent visit to Paris. Mr Macron is one of the key Nato players in the current Russia-Ukraine conflict.

During the past three years, Thailand has been under the global microscope for its voting record on the six UN resolutions related to the conflict since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. The country voted in favour of four UN resolutions and abstained on two. At the time, the Thai UN permanent representative, Dr Suriya Chindawongse, also issued a series of explanations of votes (EOV) to further clarify the country's positions and strategic interests. The EOVs served to clear up doubts over Thailand's actions.

From the Thai verbal and written presentations at various UN meetings on the crisis, one has a strong feeling of "give peace a chance". More broadly, at least four important messages emerged. First, Thailand was "gravely concerned" about the worsening hostilities and violence due to the use of force in Ukraine since the very first day. The loss of life, including those of innocent civilians, and the destruction of property and civilian infrastructure were deplorable. For Thailand, it does not have to look far to witness the horror and consequences of long-standing war.

In addition, given its regional experience with humanitarian crises in neighbouring countries over the past four decades, Thailand knows full well that as the war continues, the humanitarian situation will get worse. On this issue, Thailand has never been shy to speak out. Dr Suriya, who is now the Thai ambassador in Washington, repeatedly expressed the country's readiness to provide humanitarian aid directly and in partnership with like-minded international organisations.

More specifically, as an active UN member since 1946, Thailand respects and is committed to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and international law on sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence. It called for the conflicting parties to refrain from the use of force or the threat of the use of force against one another. As the conflict broke out during the nascent economic recovery from Covid-19, Thailand is extremely worried that the escalation of war would negatively impact the regional and global economy and people's well-being. In Thailand, agriculture and energy supply chains were temporarily disrupted, causing public fear of an economic slowdown.

Finally, Thailand has continuously called for dialogue and negotiations to find a peaceful settlement and a sustainable solution through the UN, regional mechanisms, and other mutually acceptable modalities. With these convictions, Thailand is attending the Burgenstock summit as it welcomes all peace initiatives and efforts to bring an end to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. It is doubtful whether the summit will be able to produce any deliverable peace plan as Russia, the conflicting partner, has not been invited. With the ongoing surge of fighting with upgraded high-power weapons, the threat of nuclear war has been frequently mentioned as a possible option.

Apart from Ukraine's peace plan, other peace proposals and overtures have also been put forward, including those from China and Indonesia, among others. Obviously, there are two contending peace plans -- one from Ukraine, which will be the summit's central theme, and China's 12-point peace plan, which calls for, among others -- a ceasefire, dialogue, security guarantees for Russia, and protection of civilians. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said last week that more than two dozen countries had backed Beijing's plan to resolve the conflict.

During the first 10 months of the war, Asean issued three statements expressing concern and calling for restraint and a peaceful solution without naming Russia. The Asean members have different views on the current Russia-Ukraine war. Singapore is the only member that has imposed sanctions against Russia. Despite their differences, the Asean statement issued in April 2022 supported the call of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for an independent investigation of all alleged atrocities against innocent civilians, including in Bucha.

Among the Asean members, Indonesia proposed a general peace plan, which was put forward by President-designate Prabowo Subianto last February when he was serving as the defence minister. The plan called for a ceasefire and UN-monitored demilitarised zones. If Indonesia decides to attend the summit, Jakarta is expected to elaborate on its proposed plan at the summit.

Since the war, Thailand has continued to engage with the international community to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ukraine. Meanwhile, it has delivered several rounds of humanitarian aid to Ukraine through the Thai Red Cross Society and its Ukrainian counterparts, as well as Unicef and the Polish Red Cross Society, both in terms of financial contributions and relief items worth 26.5 million baht.

At the summit, Thailand will have the opportunity to share regional perspectives with other Asean colleagues. The country wants to contribute to international efforts to end the war and promote peace. Furthermore, the summit will showcase the country's commitment to dialogue and peace despite Thailand's neutral position on the conflict, as reiterated by the current Pheu Thai-led government and its predecessor.

Kavi Chongkittavorn

A veteran journalist on regional affairs

Kavi Chongkittavorn is a veteran journalist on regional affairs

Do you like the content of this article?