Regulating – or Ruling – Civil Society in Thailand?

To better understand the details of Thailand's draft acts and reflect on what is needed to create an enabling rather than a restrictive, environment for civil society, a panel discussion will be held on 3 April 2021 at 5PM.

The Office of the Council of State (OCS) has proposed a draft Act on the 'Operation of Not-for-Profit Organisations', which recently completed a short public comment period on the  OCS website. Another related draft Act on the 'Promotion and Development of Civil Society Organisations' is also being considered after being proposed by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security. Both these acts have serious implications for civil society groups and non-government organizations (NGOs) and the way they operate in Thailand. A number of national and international NGOs reviewed and submitted comments to provide inputs to the Acts to ensure civil society can continue to play its crucial role in promoting inclusive and just development and promoting the well-being of the most vulnerable sectors in society.

The former Act has received the most attention due to its broad definition of non-profit and its provisions. As currently drafted, the Act envisions the following: a mandatory registration process under the Ministry of Interior (enforced with criminal penalties of 5 years in prison and/or 100,000 baht fine); no appeals for registration revocation; mandatory requirement that all foreign funding of NGOs and civil society be approved by the Minister of Interior; authority for regulators to enter offices and access/take copies of all NGO electronic communications; intrusive mandatory activity and reporting requirements; intrusive mandatory financial reporting requirements; and unspecified requirements to act in accordance with Ministerial directions on activities.

To better understand the details of the draft acts and reflect on what is needed to create an enabling rather than a restrictive, environment for civil society a panel discussion will be held on 3 April 2021 at 5PM to provide an overview on the Draft Acts and the potential impacts on civic space. In doing so it contributes to a series of events and publication initiated in 2019 on the role of civil society in Southeast Asia. The panel speakers are:

  • Sanhawan Srisod, Associate International Legal Advisor, International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
  • Phil Robertson, Deputy Asia Director, Human Rights Watch
  • Emilie Palamy Pradichit, Founder & Director, Manushya Foundation

The blended event will be broadcast on FB live, while on site, there is place for a limited number of participants on a first come, first served basis.  

For information/reservation for our events please email [email protected] or phone/wa: +66970024140

NB: Events are free, but donations are most welcome!


Human Rights Watch (HRW)
HRW is an international non-governmental organization, headquartered in New York City, that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Established in 1978, HRW operates in 90 countries worldwide, including Thailand. For more information see

SEA Junction
SEA Junction, established under the Thai non-profit organization Foundation for Southeast Asia Studies (ForSEA), aims to foster understanding and appreciation of Southeast Asia in all its socio-cultural dimensions, from arts and lifestyles to economy and development. Conveniently located at Room 408 of the Bangkok Arts and Culture Center or BACC (across MBK, BTS National Stadium), SEA Junction facilitates public access to knowledge resources and exchanges among students, practitioners and Southeast Asia lovers. For more information see, join the Facebook group: and follow us on twitter and Instagram @seajunction

From 03 Apr 2021
Until 03 Apr 2021
SEA Junction
4th floor, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
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