Democratic Governance: In-Depth

GovernanceUNDP partners with the National Anti-Corruption Commission to fight corruption in Thailand and prevent a new generation of young people from accepting corruption as a common practice in Thai society

UNDP Thailand’s work in Democratic Governance reaches across a wide spectrum—from policy advice and capacity building at the national level, down to advocacy and local engagement and empowerment at  the provincial and local levels. UNDP promotes active and inclusive participation in development planning and decision-making, while boosting the capacity of line ministries for effective implementation of country programming, including the empowerment of women, and working to create a more inclusive seat at the decision-marking for the people of Thailand—regardless of income or social status. UNDP provides strategic support to institutions, working in broad thematic areas such as decentralization, civic education, anti-corruption, rule of law, transparency, and human rights. UNDP also policy dialogue and knowledge sharing within Thailand, as well as with other countries faced with similar middle-income challenges.


Corruption continues to be a pandemic and systemic problem in Thailand. Recent polls have shown that the majority of Thai people believe that that corruption in government is publicly acceptable, as long as there are public or personal benefits from it.  Young people under aged 20 now hold these same values. In response, UNDP began its Anti-Corruption Initiative in 2011, a series of advocacy initiatives with civil society and Thai universities to warn and inform Thai people about the dangers of corruption in society.  

UNDP has engaged national partners like the National Anti-Corruption Commission in raising awareness, and fostered new relationships with universities like Khon Kaen University’s College of Local Administration (COLA). In 2012, UNDP and university partners held anti-corruption camps across the country with student leaders from more than 90 Thai universities. Bringing in the expertise of a well-known Thai journalist and a seasoned academic, university students were given a ‘crash course’ on the problem of corruption in Thailand, and brainstormed ideas on how to fight it.  The result was the World Economic Forum (WEF) award-winning “Thai Youth Anti-Corruption Network[1]” a group of more than 4,000 students, who in December 2013 rallied en masse in central Bangkok.

Legal Empowerment and Participation

UNDP is also taking major steps to expand its work in Thailand’s Southern provinces. Legal awareness is a significant concern in Thailand’s Southern provinces, as many people are often unaware of all of the available options for pursuing a remedy for grievances.  In the South, where many local people are not fluent in Thai and there is no information available in the local language.

UNDP’s Southern Thailand Empowerment  (STEP) Project, in partnership with the Royal Thai Government, is enhancing community empowerment and public participation in local government in the South, by developing the capacity of communities and local governments.  UNDP is developing 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.  Through our STEP project, 93 young people have been trained to be ‘leaders in transferring conflict to peace’ in the southern provinces of Thailand. 

Providing accurate and balanced information can promote peace by changing public perception. Our STEP project has applied alternative media as a means of promoting peace in conflict affected areas through Southern Border Young Journalism School. Three media roadshows and 10 training workshops were held in Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat provinces. At least 85 young Muslim students attended the training workshops to improve their news writing and reporting skills in both Thai and Malayu. As a result around 30 news articles were published in nine monthly bi-lingual community newsletters and on various websites. 

Disaster Risk Reduction and Early Recovery

In late 2011, floods swept through Thailand, affecting more than 11 million people.  One-fifth of the Southeast Asian nation was inundated with water affecting more than 3 million households in 64 Thai provinces.  During and after the 2011, crisis UNDP and Thailand’s key national response agency, the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) have been working together to lessen the impact of floods and boost the capacity of the Department to be able to respond to future large-scale floods and other natural disasters.

In close partnership during times of crisis, UNDP Thailand and DDPM mutually discovered challenges to Thailand’s disaster management system—including policies did not have the capacity to assist in a range of rescue and recovery operations and weaknesses in conducting post-disaster needs assessments.  Responding as quickly and efficiently as possible will be crucial going forward. Thailand ranks as the seventh most flood prone country in the world. By 2030, economic impacts from climate change are projected to place Thailand fourth in the world after the United States, Russia and Japan.

In response to these national and global challenges, UNDP and DDPM have launched at $1.2 million initiative to reduce the vulnerability of the millions of people affected in 2011 to future flooding. The initiative will boost Thailand’s ability to adapt when disasters occur, by working with the Department and line ministries to be better prepared to address climate change and environmental security issues. It will also provide a framework for needs assessment, as well as for planning, technical support and capacity building for early recovery in close collaboration with other national response agencies.

With support from our STEP project,  local volunteers in Pattani province were trained on cultivation techniques, coastal resources management and food security. To date over 184 people have received training on natural resources management and disaster preparedness and response.

[1] The Thai Youth Anti-Corruption Network was named a “Creative for Good” best practice by the World Economic Forum.