Virtual discussion on human rights in light of COVID-19 in Bangkok

Published 3 June 2020 in:

From top left: Voranai Vanijaka, Angkhana Neelaphaijit, Gothom Areeya, Cynthia Veliko, Sunai Phasuk, Chris Baker, Renaud Meyer, Vitit Muntarphorn & Staffan Herrström.

On 27 May, the Swedish Embassy in Bangkok hosted a virtual discussion on the theme of ‘Human Rights and COVID-19: Where do we stand?’ Over 40 leading representatives of Thai civil society, international organisations and likeminded embassies met on Microsoft Teams to talk about the human rights situation in Thailand under the new conditions brought about by the pandemic.

Ambassador Staffan Herrström delivered the opening address and then gave the floor to four selected participants, who provided different perspectives and inspiration for the lively discussion that ensued. There was a pent-up need among participants to talk, and the Embassy’s event appeared to be the first of its kind.

The discussion demonstrated the importance of placing human rights in focus during the fight against the pandemic, and the important role of civil society in relation to the authorities. Participants discussed the raison d’être of the state of emergency, the restrictions on freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, the particular vulnerability of women, the situation of migrant workers, the role of business in upholding human rights, and much more.

The technology mainly functioned well and the fact that this was a virtual discussion probably also meant that more prominent participants were able to join. The event also provided the opportunity for the Embassy’s partner organisations for regional development cooperation – such as the OHCHR, UN Women, UNDP and the IOM – to update participants on their work during the pandemic and offer valuable input from their perspectives.

Written by: Per Skånberg

In the photo (from top left): Voranai Vanijaka, Angkhana Neelaphaijit, Gothom Areeya, Cynthia Veliko, Sunai Phasuk, Chris Baker, Renaud Meyer, Vitit Muntarphorn & Staffan Herrström.