Democratic Governance: In-Depth
UNDP’s democratic governance programme is targeted at both ends of the democracy spectrum – at the grassroots and the national levels. At the local level, UNDP supports on-going efforts to promote participatory development planning and decision-making, building capacity for effective implementation of poverty reduction and development programmes, empowering women, and works to create a stronger voice for people in local governance.
UNDP also facilitates partnerships between local authorities and local non-governmental organizations and community groups. At the national level, UNDP provides strategic support to Thai institutions, working in areas such as decentralization, civic education, anti-corruption, rule of law, transparency, access to information, and human rights. UNDP facilitates policy dialogue and knowledge-sharing within Thailand, as well as with other countries faced with similar challenges.
Much of the current work of the UNDP Thailand Governance Unit focuses on issues of decentralization, early recovery efforts, anti-corruption advocacy, legal empowerment, and capacity building.
Recently, UNDP partnered with the provincial government of Mae Hong Son to improve and promote fair and equal treatment and access to resources and services among the different communities residing in the province, with special attention given to women and children. We also advocated UNDP’s approach to community security and social cohesion through an educational film, “Building Social Cohesion: The Case of Mae Hong Son,” released in June of 2012.
UNDP is also in partnership with the Office of the Election Commission (OECT), to promote democratic governance. Together with the OECT, UNDP, along with other stakeholders designed a project aimed at promoting and ensuring inclusive representation and full participation in the electoral process through a national civic education programme, as well as supporting the OECT as a key driver and major resource for democratic practice.
UNDP assists in maintaining continuity, increasing transparency and improving the inclusiveness of Thailand’s electoral system. The OECT serves an important function in assuring the democratic development and progress of the country. By enhancing OECT’s capacity, it can continue to play the role as a key driver of stability in Thai democracy.
The Governance programme also engages in cross-cutting issues like gender and violence against women. In coordination with the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (MSDHS), UNDP participates in a joint campaign to increase awareness and knowledge about domestic violence and the new legal framework will be central in efforts to turn the existing negative trend. In an effort to improve knowledge and understanding of domestic violence and the DV Act in the general population, and among risk groups in particular, the MSDHS with support from UN Agencies will develop awareness raising campaigns in two pilot areas around Bangkok.
UNDP is also taking major steps to expand its work in Thailand’s restive Southern provinces. Ongoing violence has left many children and women without a father. The violence has exacerbated poverty, as an increasing number of women are taking up the role of head of household head without sufficient skills to earn a proper livelihood for their families. Poverty incidences among women are relatively high in Pattani and Narathiwat provinces.
The STEP Project (Southern Thailand Empowerment Project), in partnership with the Royal Thai Government, UNDP aims to enhance community empowerment and public participation in local governance processes in Southern Thailand, by developing the capacity of communities and local governments. UNDP will develop vocational trainings to improve livelihoods, create employment opportunities that empower people by including them in the job market, and training local volunteers and law students to raise legal awareness and access to legal information, bringing local communities and people closer to proper access to justice.
Corruption is also a major challenge in Thailand. Major E daily newspapers and several major news media sources reported that a majority (63.4%) of Thai people still hold the view that corruption in government is acceptable as long as they also benefit from it according to a recent poll in June 2012. The majority of young people under 20 also held the same attitude.
In partnership with the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), UNDP launched its Anti-Corruption Initiative in Thailand, which kicked off in December 2011 with a major advocacy event in central Bangkok, featuring a UNDP documentary, several student films and a mini-pop concert. Recently, UNDP and the College of Local Administration (COLA) at Khon Kaen University held a workshop for 36 student leaders from 15 different universities across Thailand, with the aim of creating a larger anti-corruption network among university peer groups.