The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand has taken leave of its senses. It has written to the Secretary General of the United Nations expressing “the most serious concern and dismay … over the blatant violation of human rights” involved in the World Heritage listing of the Preah Vihear temple. Here is a brief extract from the opening and closing paragraphs of the long letter. When I first saw the letter I thought it must be a fake – a Not-The-Nation-style spoof on the madness of contemporary Thai politics. But it seems to be coming direct from the horse’s mouth. The full text is available in English and Thai.
I am writing to you to express and register the most serious concern and dismay of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, an independent organ established under both Thai Constitutions of 1997 and 2007, over the blatant violation of human rights committed by organs of the United Nations in total disregard of the letters and spirit of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, namely, the inscription by the World Heritage Committee (established within the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization pursuant to the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage of 16 November 1972) of the Temple of Pra Viharn or Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List, as unilaterally proposed by Cambodia.
Such decision … has clearly contravened the noble purpose of the UN Charter in promoting the development of friendly relations among nations, the very concept echoed in the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights itself, especially Article 28, namely, “Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized”.
All the above questions and doubt underscore a need for UN-related agencies to have transparency, consistency, integrity, and good governance as well as respect of the highest order for human rights. The acts committed by the World Heritage Committee and UNESCO have shown their insensitivity and total disregard to human rights especially of the peoples of Thailand and Cambodia. I wish to request you to set up an inquiry committee consisting of impartial persons of highest moral authority to find the answers to the above questions and to set a strong example that human rights be respected not only by member countries of the UN, but also by the UN itself and its related agencies. This should be a meaningful way to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
There are many important human rights issues to be addressed in Thailand. This is not one of them.
By lending its credibility to the blatant opportunism and ultra-nationalism of the born-again Preah Vihear campaigners, the Human Rights Commission of Thailand has diminished its credibility when it comes to deal with real human rights issues.