I read the US Supreme Court Ruling on marriage equality, legalizing same-sex marriage. I am glad to see many of my American friends happy after such a long struggle for marriage equality. The fight against legal discrimination based on sexual preference is over. Same-sex couples’ love and commitment to one another is now equally recognized by law. They will be treated by law with no difference between same- and opposite-sex couples. Societal attitudes will change accordingly giving it time. Inequality and lack of respect of same-sex couples including their children deprive them of many social and economic benefits that are provided by the States linked to marital status. In the United States, marriage, being considered as the foundation of the family and society, State places marriage institution at the core of so many facets of the legal and social order. Different State provides different benefits to opposite-sex marriage couples covering many aspects, from taxation, inheritance and property rights, spousal privilege, hospital access, medical decision-making authority, adoption rights, rights and benefits of survivors, birth and death certificate, workers’ compensation benefits, health insurance, to child custody support and visitation rules. The Court stated in this verdict that although limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples may long have seemed natural and just, but its inconsistency with the central meaning of fundamental right to marry is now manifest. The law which exclude same-sex couples from the marriage right imposted stigma and injury of the kind prohibited by the basic charter in the US Constitution. As of yesterday, same-sex couples in the Unites States have rejoice in winning the legal battle in exercising the fundamental right, accorded to all American citizens to marry legally who ever they want (just like any other opposite-sex couples). This important Supreme Court Ruling will change economic and social life of the United States in a fundamental way. It is nice to see it happens in my life time.
I am trying to be positive about the gatherings of seven leaders of the World’s riches countries last week in Germany.There are some small steps of progress to be happy about on action on the Climate Change front coming out of the G-7 Summit. The host, Angela Merkel, German Chancellor made a strong commitment at the end of the meeting on eliminating greenhouse-gas emission – getting rid of most carbon dioxide from the burning of oil, gas and coal. Other G-7 leaders also agreed on urgency to act together to solve global warming. They agreed on plans of reduction by 2050 of 40 to 70 percent in the global greenhouse-gas emission levels. There is also common determination to transform the energy sector by replacing the carbon-based fossil fuels by win,solar, and other alternative sources of energy. Germany has already led the World in win and solar energy and reduce reliance on nuclear energy for industrial use. The G-7 countries calls for all countries to take action to cause emitting climate changing greenhouse-gases over the next 85 years. Scientists have acknowledged these good steps taken by G-7, but they are critical that the action is too little too late to have real impact on climate change. The United States tries to catch up with Germany on dealing with Climate Change. This week, the Obama Administration announce plans to reign in greenhouse-gas emission from trucks, airplanes and power plants. Decarbonize the global economy is a huge goal that requires cooperation by all countries and people in agreeing to accelerate action to achieve it. Slow action on this will bring an environmental disaster that is soon to come.
Living creatures under the sea and ocean water are beautiful and diverse as you can see them in the few of my paintings under the theme of “Sea Life” series. I enjoy looking at them and painting them for use in promoting its’ conservation to safeguard the environment. No need really to emphasize that the health of marine lives depends on clean sea water and the healthy ocean environment. Therefore, I am concern to learn from the UN reports that marine lives are in danger not only from ocean pollution but also from being destroyed by human fishing activities and bioprospecting in the deep sea. It is worrisome to learn about the vulnerability of marine lives beyond national jurisdiction particularly in the seamounts, hydro-thermal vents and cold-water coral reefs. The United Nations General Assembly have been discussing biological diversity issues for some time now, and I also know that since 1993, when the Convention on Biological Diversity entered into force, some member states have taken some action, according to international law, in trying to stop the destructive fishing practices that have damaging impacts on marine biodiversity and ecosystem. The sustainable use of genetic resources is another issue of concern to International Community. It is good to know that governments are negotiating the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of these marine resources. This week, the Ninth UN Working Group on Marine Biodiversity Beyond Areas of National Jurisdiction meets at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The expected outcome is to produce recommendations for a decision to be taken at the 69th Session of the General Assembly on the development of a new international instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. I think It is our duty to support this United Nations effort to protect and conserve bio-diversity of marine lives which I think is one of the most important activity in safeguarding the world’s environment.
It is good that Foreign Affairs Minister Seehasak Puangketkaew had clarified Thailand’s current situation to the international community through the United Nation’s stage. His stressing that the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) work aimed to reduce social gaps while upholding people-centered benefits will create better understanding of the current Thailand’s new administrative efforts to prevent future conflicts. Mr. Seehasak addressed international community around the United Nations in New York last week at the High Level Political Forum Ministerial Dialogue. I agree with what he said that every country has different background and priority. I think that measures have to be found for more effective people’s participation, which is key to move the country forward to a new political and development environment and a better future. I am glad that he also mentioned that NCPO now focus on public participation in addressing the national agendas. Mr. Seehasak was hundred percent correct in saying that Thailand’s development would be impossible to achieve without the rule of law. That was the problem before military intervention two months ago when a large number of the people of all political spectrums demonstrated on the streets of Bangkok showing no respect for the law and the judicial system of the country. I am glad that he also informed the international community that Thailand now has a clear roadmap to democracy. I want to join the people who say that political reform must come before holding the next election. It is necessary to guarantee that there will not be corruptions in the newly organised electoral process such as vote buying and cheating in ballot counting. I am sure that the international community can see for themselves the problems that happen now in ballot counting in the recent elections in Afghanistan and Indonesia. Needless to say that I am happy to learn of the good reception that Mr. Seehasak received by the audiences after his speech. I urge the International community to leave Thai people to solve their own political problems without any negative outside intervention. There is no one route to ideal democratic process or good governance. Each country has to struggle to achieve that in their own way suitable to their particular political/cultural environment and people’s aspirations.
After street demonstrations by more than 5 million people in Bangkok during the past five months, it is encouraging to see more involvement of people from business communities, lawyers’ associations, and the academic institutions to make political change happens. Meeting, seminars and discussion groups were organised trying to find solutions to the present problem in the country without parliament or legitimate government. After closing down the Parliament,Yingluck has then become a caretaker prime minister. When millions of people asked her to resign, she made a public announcement that since she came into office via an election process, she was prepare to die in a “democracy” battle. Despite warnings from many quarters, her caretaker government insisted in holding a national election on February 2, 2014, which later was nullified by the Constitution Court.The anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) declared that they will not participate in any election until there is a political reform. At the nightly public rallies, the PDRC leaders insisted that Yingluck and other politicians who did not accept the decision of the Constitution Court must resign. Not only that, many of those who faced corruption charges but also that they do not have legitimacy to govern the country. They declared that Yingluck government is illegitimate. Getting rid of an illegitimate and corrupted government is key issue in this struggle to eliminate corruption and bring in change of the way the country is organised and run. This is the first time in Thailand that millions of people have become aware that corruption is ruining the country. They want to end corrupted practices of government officials and their crony capitalists, called “Thaksinomic”. Anti-government demonstrators want the National Anti-Corruption Commission to hurry-up the investigation of cases against key cabinet members and politicians whose verdict are still pending.They were concern about the deterioration of Thailand’s international image which ranked 102 out of 177 countries in the latest Corruption Perceptions Index. The ranking got worst two years after Yingluck took over the office as Prime Minister (from 88 down to 102). Medical societies and student action groups have set up mechanism to effectively monitor future corruption by politicians, owners of political parties together with corrupted corporate leaders and business people. To the students, reform before national election include a revised regulation of elections in a bid to create a “fair election”. The military leaders had announced at their meeting with representatives of the PDRC that they wanted to see the country quickly return to peace through negotiations by different factions as soon as possible. The military will be out in the street, not to make a coup d’tat, but to keep the people safe from violence and arms attack. Contrary to report by many of the Western media, the PDRC are not against election as such, but they want it to be organised under a neutral and legitimate government with a new reformed election law to prevent vote-buying possibilities. They want to see political parties give commitment to people’s interest and not to their own business interest. The conflict in Thailand will end only when political parties and politicians agree to political reforms to ensure free and fair election without corruption. Future quick election, without the reform, is not going to happen any time soon. Because millions of people don’t want them and they will come out to the street again to prevent a return of the cycle of corrupted regimes. As citizens, they have a right, guaranteed by the Constitution, to get rid of corrupted government that does not respect the rule of law and the verdict of the judges of the Constitution Court.
The United Nations Millennium Development Goal will not be achieved for women and girls unless discriminatory provisions are removed, women’s access to justice is guaranteed and discriminatory social norms and stereotypes are transformed. These are the challenges that face the members of UN Commission on the Status of Women who come together this week to attend it’s 58th Sessional meeting in New York. Together they will review progress in access and participation of women and girls in education, training, science and technology and they will make an assessment of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work as well as their access to productive resources. Other important task of the Commission at this session is to evaluate progress and failure in mainstreaming gender perspective into development implementation and evaluation of national policies and programs. They will continue to work till the end of the session on the 21st of March. While the Millennium Development Goals were intended to be a global set of goals, it is important to remember that the implementations of the framework has taken place largely at the national level. Country reports have shown that there are some innovations, but there are also some limitations in many areas. For examples: report on gender and poverty focused mainly on female-headed households but do not say anything about gender inequalities in terms of income and consumption within households. And very few countries reported on the gender dimension of nutrition, water, sanitation and the environment. Even when legal frameworks have been strengthened laws are often poorly implemented which limits women’s access to justice. Reports have also indicated that persistence of deeply entrenched discriminatory social norms, stereotypes and practices that hold back progress on gender equality remain a significant challenge.