On Monday 13 May, Baker McKenzie Thailand had the great pleasure of hosting representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Thailand and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of Thailand in the Bangkok office for a seminar on statelessness. This was in support of UNHCR's global #IBELONG campaign which aims to eradicate statelessness by 2024.
The event, attended by over 70 Baker McKenzie team members, was a huge success with all team members coming away from the event with ideas on how we as an organisation and as individuals can improve the lives of stateless people. Pia Carmela Paguio (Deputy Representative, UNHCR Thailand) gave an overview of how UNHCR is supporting the Royal Thai Government in its efforts to end statelessness and Khun Tuenjai Deetes (National Human Rights Commissioner) spoke about her work on improving the conditions of stateless indigenous people in Thailand during the past 40 years.
Stateless people can often face a lifetime of uncertainty and the Firm is dedicated to championing their cause and the brilliant work UNHCR is doing to try and end this violation of their dignity and human rights. There are some 478,000 registered stateless persons in Thailand, although some unofficial estimates are higher. Of the official figures, 50 per cent are women and 50 per cent are men; just under a third are under the age of 18. Most stateless people come from the mountain tribes: the Akha, Lanu, Lisu, Yao, Shan, Hmong, and Karen ethnic communities. They struggle to obtain the basic necessities of life, such as education, employment, welfare and healthcare, they can also be restricted in their rights to movement.
We capped off the evening with a working dinner where we discussed ways that the Firm and UNHCR can work together to promote their projects in Thailand and further afield. It was a great discussion and we will continue to develop our relationship with UNHCR to deliver projects that all Baker McKenzie team members can be involved in and promote outside of the workplace.
For further inquiries about the Bangkok office's CSR and pro bono projects, please contact Joseph Willan.
From left to right: Waranon Vanichprapa (CSR Chair), Say Sujintaya (Business Development Chair), Pia Carmela Paguio (Deputy Representative, UNHCR Thailand), Khun Tuenjai Deetes (Human Rights Commissioner) and Wynn Pakdeejit (Managing Partner)