Thailand stepping up efforts in preventing multidimensional violence

February 11, 2023
Evan Krause/Unsplash

As the world continues to grapple with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the new and ongoing conflicts, and the looming threat of the triple planetary crisis including climate change, biodiversity degradation and multiple forms of pollutions, create a growing sense of insecurity and polarization that increasingly translates into threats to the social fabric of our societies.

The UNDP Human Development Report 2021/2022 highlights that this rising insecurity is not limited to countries with low Human Development Index (HDI); even countries with high HDI show increased levels of anxiety and stress among their populations. The report further highlights how more than 6 in 7 people at the global level feel insecure, even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

But what is driving this trend towards increased anxiety, stress, and insecurity that can lay the foundation for radicalization and escalate to violence and extremism?

A closer examination of the root causes reveals a complex interplay of socio-political and economic factors, including growing inequalities, perceptions of injustice, corruption, discrimination, and marginalization of minorities. The additional threats, many human-induced, to our eco-systems and questions regarding our ability and even commitment to sustainably manage them, add to these causes.

The role of media in normalizing violence, and spreading fake news thereby challenging trust, as well as psychological factors such as alienation and a search for identity, also play a crucial role that drive radicalization.

At a global level, the member states of the United Nations have acknowledged that extremism has reached a level of threat and sophistication that requires concerted actions that go beyond just military and security measures to counter it.

To truly prevent extremism, addressing its root causes through promoting development, good governance, and human rights is imperative.

Thailand, with the adoption in September 2022 by Cabinet of the “Guidelines on Strengthening Co-existence amidst Social Diversity”, is also acknowledging the importance and urgency of preventing extremism.

UNDP welcomes these Guidelines as a demonstration of Thailand’s support and alignment with the United Nations Secretary-General’s Plan of Action on Preventing Violent Extremism, itself based on a resolution of the General Assembly 70/254 of 12 February 2016.  

The Guidelines promote a multi-sector approach to fostering social cohesion by involving all sectors of society, from government and private sector to the general public and civil society and calls for the engagement of all relevant Ministries and Departments to tackle the individual and structural factors that can lead to hate-based and extremist ideologies.

As we mark on the 12th of February the International Day for the Prevention of Violent Extremism, UNDP calls on all sectors of the society in Thailand to converge efforts to jointly identify the solutions needed to strengthen social cohesion through trust-based dialogues and with the dose of empathy and solidarity that the uncertainties of our times require.

The upcoming elections provide a pivotal moment for Thailand to come together and make a collective choice through a democratic process as to the way ahead.

Thai citizens have the opportunity to give power to decision-makers whom they trust will be able and willing to heal divides, tackle the pressing environmental threats, address complex social and economic challenges, bolster effective inclusive governance that takes forward Thailand’s vision for a Bio Circular Green Economy model, thus creating an enabling environment where a peaceful and cohesive society can accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Renaud Meyer is the UNDP Resident Representative in Thailand

Tanasup Saibutr/UNDP Thailand