Thai government officials have signaled a desire to improve the country’s standing in the World Justice Project (WJP) Rule of Law Index. The development came at a multi-stakeholder convening focused on using data to set the rule of law reform agenda in Thailand.
As part of WJP’s ongoing work and engagement in the Asia Pacific region, it joined the Thailand Institute of Justice (TIJ) to cohost “ASEAN Innovation for Justice 2023: The Rule of Law, Data, and the Future of the Justice in ASEAN” in Bangkok, August 16-18.
The three-day convening gathered more than 100 attendees from the government, academia, civil society, and the private sector to discuss findings from the WJP Rule of Law Index and how and where to focus rule of law improvement efforts.
WJP’s Regional Director for Asia Pacific, Srirak Plipat, presented findings from the 2022 Index, including Thailand’s strengths and weaknesses in promoting the rule of law. The presentation sparked an initial discussion among meeting attendees about what needs to be done to improve Thailand’s Index score and, ultimately, strengthen the rule of law. Another topic of discussion: Who should be responsible for leading the process?
No decisions have yet been made about the process or who should lead it, however the Thailand Ministry of Justice expressed a desire to raise the country’s Index score by 30% over the next five years.
"WJP and our partners in the region are ready to help facilitate future discussions about this goal and how best to achieve it,” said Plipat,.
Thailand ranks 80 out of 140 countries and jurisdictions in the latest edition of the Index and 10 out of 15 countries in the region. While the country has not experienced large changes in its rule of law score over the last several years, it consistently ranks below the global and regional averages in almost every Index factor.
On the first day of the conference, WJP and TIJ focused on strategy and key operational issues to improve the rule of law in Thailand. Attendees formed three working groups to tackle challenges based on 3 out of 8 factors in the WJP Rule of Law Index: corruption, open government, and criminal justice.
In addition to WJP, meeting attendees also heard from Kittipong Kittayarak, an advisor to TIJ, who noted that Thailand is one of only a few of countries in the world that has “rule of law” specifically written into the constitution. Chair of the board of directors of the Thai Credit Retail Bank and member of the board of governors of the Stock Exchange of Thailand, Kitiphong Urapeepattanapong, also addressed the conference and spoke of the need for legal reform.
Tawee Sodsong, who is expected to be the next justice minister under the recently formed government, also attended the conference.