A new report from the International Crisis Group states that there has been very little progress on resolving the Southern Thailand conflict, almost a year since Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva took power promising to address this region’s problems. He claimed that a solution would be based on development and justice, but International Crisis Group suggests that instead a continuing heavy-handed military approach may in fact be exacerbating the conflict.
The South Thailand insurgency is little-studied internationally- when Thailand makes the international news, it is more likely to be for the political conflict between Vejjajiva’s government and supporters of deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The profile of the South Thailand conflict remains low despite the fact that more people have died in this conflict in the last 6 years than in the whole period of the Troubles in Northern Ireland (almost 4,000). If and when international attention does arrive, the International Crisis Group reminds us that civil society participation will be key to resolving the conflict:
“The government should ensure that projects are implemented transparently and with grassroots participation… [the government should] increase popular participation in the planning of development projects to make sure that they serve real needs as well as improve transparency and efficiency in the disbursement of development budgets.”
The groups featured on Insight on Conflict's Thailand section indicate that the civil society exists to help with any peace process. We can only hope that they start to receive greater attention and support for their efforts.