The Cabinet, during its meeting on 6 February 2024, approved a draft bill seeking to protect and promote ways of life of ethnic groups in Thailand, following the proposal of the Ministry of Culture, as recommended by the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Center (Public Organization).
The draft bill was proposed in line with Thailand’s social reform plan, in accordance with Section 70 of the 2017 Constitution of Thailand, which states that the government should promote and provide protection for different ethnic groups, so that they have the right to live in society according to their cultures, customs, and traditional ways of life on a voluntary basis, peacefully, and without interference, insofar as it is not contrary to public order, or good morals, or does not endanger national security or health and sanitation.
In the draft bill, a committee on the protection and promotion of ways of life of ethnic groups will be formed to set policies and measures on the issue. It will be chaired by the Prime Minister, or a deputy prime minister assigned by the Prime Minister.
An assembly of ethnic groups will also be formed to serve as the coordinating center to exchange knowledge and create better understanding among ethnic groups and between ethnic groups and society.
Moreover, information about ways of life and history of ethnic groups will be collected and will be used to enable them to have access to their basic rights. People and community members living in the areas declared for the protection and promotion of ways of life of ethnic groups will have the right to use local plots of land and natural resources in accordance with their ways of life.
This will be the first draft law on the protection and promotion of ways of life of ethnic groups, aimed at further advancing principles and guidelines for the protection of ethnic groups and building a clear and effective system for their participation.
Minister of Culture Sermsak Pongpanit said that the draft bill would protect the cultural rights of ethnic groups equally without discrimination, encourage them to take part in national development on a sustainable basis, reduce disparities, and improve their living conditions.