With the second largest economy in ASEAN, Thailand is one of the most dynamic countries in Southeast Asia. But over the past decade, despite being an upper middle income country, Thailand has faced slowing economic growth, declining foreign investment, and political instability. With growing concerns about trade, education, inequality, and the environment, the Royal Thai Government is moving forward on several major reform initiatives, integrating principles of self-sufficiency across government programs and new investments. Thailand is also in the midst of a major political transition, with elections scheduled in 2018. The conflict in the southernmost provinces continues, with prospects for a peaceful settlement are still elusive. Since 1954, The Asia Foundation has been supporting Thailand’s development, including during key transitions.
Laying the Groundwork for Peace
The Southern border provinces are facing a long-running separatist conflict and inter-communal tensions that have shattered a tradition of peaceful coexistence. The conflict has claimed more than 6,500 lives since 2004. The Foundation is working to address the drivers of the conflict, and support efforts to improve relations between the major ethnic groups living in the conflict-affected area. We are also helping to improve the quality of criminal investigations, and assist Government authorities who are committed to addressing local grievances. In 2016, we helped three forensic police units of the Police Forensic Science Center 10 in Yala province to attain ISO 17020 accreditation. We also supported a seminar for prosecutors, policy, and human rights lawyers to highlight the need to improve the quality of criminal justice procedures in compliance with international standards.
NEWS FROM THAILAND
Police and Justice Reform
While Thailand’s military government is pursuing a broad-based reform agenda, there has been ongoing frustration with efforts to reform the police investigation and criminal justice system. To create momentum, the Foundation supported analysis of options and obstacles for promoting police reforms. We supported a national forum, which included relevant government agencies, political parties, NGOs, and the academic community, to build consensus on key reforms. In 2016, the Constitution Drafting Committee requested a briefing on the key recommendations for police and justice sector reform. The Foundation also helped to monitor new laws approved by the National Legislative Assembly. The Foundation worked with local partners to categorize the laws, summarize their essential content, identify inconsistencies between the new and amended legislation and the inputs of the key stakeholders.
Peace Agenda of Women
We support Peace Agenda of Women (PAOW), a movement of dynamic women who have come together to advocate for peace in the country’s tense Deep South. Last year, we helped the movement support the unfolding peace process here, including raising public awareness of violence against women and children as soft targets. The movement has increased their collective influence on the process, by bringing together 23 civil society organizations, from both ethnic communities. Our support is helping PAOW to promote a peaceful solution to the conflict, and strengthen the capacity of women’s advocacy networks.
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