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This study has undertaken an examination of various factors underlying the linkage between human rights and technology, including the dimensions of rural and agricultural development, industrialization, urbanization, environment, and socialization. Some of the lessons learnt include the following:

1. Rural deprivation is more often than not linked to the basic needs of ordinary people. In a sense, the lack of basic necessities and services can be seen as a breach of basic human rights, in particular the right to development. This is not an area where advocacy in ordinary courts of law will lead to relevant remedies. What is important is to gain access to the development planning process, in particular state development agencies, and the budgetary and other resources that can lead to the fulfillment these needs. It is pressure on these elements that can bring about more change in rural areas.

On this front, technology can help not only to identify the basic needs of rural people but also to respond to those needs through development projects catering to what is appropriate at the local level. Needless to say, these elements depend heavily upon the political and social will of those who control the power and resources of the state.

2. Access to technology in rural development is interlinked with other determinants, in particular the decentralization of decision-making and popular participation. Unless these determinants are recognized and brought into operation, the development process is likely to remain top-down, with elements of superimposition derogating from spontaneous processes and from inspiration given by the right to development. This consideration has relevance for the organization and, indeed, the nature of the nation-state itself and for the concentration of power and resources in urban areas and in the hands of the elite.

3. Human rights and technology depend upon access to facilities, such as investment promotion and credit availability, which may enhance the choices of ordinary people in the industrialization process. This is pertinent to rural areas, where small-scale industries may help to supplement income and enable local people to diversify their products, complemented by the diffusion of technology to such areas, for example, through subcontracting.92 The present structure does not lend itself sufficiently to the choices that can lead to rural industrialization and the desired benefits.

4. While agricultural development has been overshadowed by the surge in manufacturing for export purposes, one should not underestimate the continued importance of agriculture in terms of the basic livelihood of the majority of the Thai population, and also in terms of nutrition. Technology can help to bolster this position by enabling farmers to be more productive, more cost-effective, and more knowledgeable in the management and marketing of their crops. It can help them limit their dependency on middlemen and to gain the maximum return for their efforts.

5. While there have been positive technological advances to help agriculture, e. g. through more extensive irrigation and better cultivars, the need for appropriate use of fertilizers and insecticides still remains unsatisfied. There is the worrying scenario that farmers have become too dependent upon chemicals without exploring the natural elements that may be available on their home ground. Natural fertilizers and insecticides developed from materials available in the local community should be encouraged, and technology should be harnessed to complement this quest.

6. The scale of industrialization in Thailand is such that it is not necessarily responsive to local needs. The large-scale, capital-intensive, and export-led industries are not necessarily of benefit to the majority of the population. There is no guarantee that the benefits from this kind of industrialization will be distributed equitably among the population. Ironically, the investment incentives are more readily available for these industries than for those of a more modest nature, which are closer in their impact to the broad mass of the population.

7. The urbanization factor is still tilted towards the concentration of people in urban sprawls, which have a magnetic pull for rural people. There is a need for effective urban planning, with details for specific sectors, ranging from zoning of industrial areas to community development and infrastructural services. Technology can assist in all these sectors, bearing in mind the ecological challenges of urban pollution and congestion. The concerns of slums, in particular the right to shelter and the appropriate technology for this purpose, should not be forgotten in the process.

8. Environmental degradation is in large part due to the misuse of technology coupled with human failings. More research and development should be undertaken to promote local technology suitable for the protection of ecologically sensitive areas and for the renewal of those resources which are already depleted. Consideration of scale is also relevant; the big-is-beautiful concept of development is increasingly impugned, as exemplified by the rising discontent with large dams. Alternatives should be found in smaller-scale operations which balance state, community, personal, and environmental interests.

9. The impact of technology on humans and the environment should be assessed by means of broader determinants than those currently envisaged by the environmental impact assessment techniques available. In particular, the qualitative nature of the impact, particularly on social dislocation and human displacement, should not be underestimated. The types of industries and projects to be covered by such tests need to be more comprehensive.

10. While not neglecting the need for more engineers and technicians to assist the rapid industrialization of the country, the promotion of education to bring about a more technically proficient population as a whole should be underlined.93 This should take into account the special concerns of women and children, and the environmental consequences of technological innovations. The channels for upgrading the level of knowledge include both formal educational institutions and non-formal channels such as the mass media.

11. Access to human rights information should be enhanced though more imaginative use of educational technology. This implies the development of innovative educational materials to respond to the needs of different target groups, including the illiterate. Diversifying information flow implies the need to be geared more towards a communications approach than towards a legalistic approach to human rights education.

12. More research and development of local technology is desirable to tackle the issues already noted. The following shortcoming should be rectified:

Little research and development (R&D) is done by private firms in Thailand. A 1982 survey on manpower and research and development activities of 105 companies found that their R&D budgets were only 0.1 per cent of sales. Only 2 per cent of research expenditures were contracted out to public research institutions of universities, showing very little interaction with publicly funded research establishments or universities. Personnel involved in R&D were only 0.21 per cent of the total workforce - equivalent to only 1.3 full-time employees per company. In addition, only 0.2 per cent of the science and technology personnel had doctoral degrees, only 3 per cent had master's degrees, 24 per cent had a bachelor's degree, and the remaining 73 per cent had less than a bachelor's degree.94

While budgeting and more qualified personnel are required, there is another factor particularly affecting outlying areas: the desirability of decentralizing research activities to provincial and regional areas so as to link research programmes more closely with local problems, thereby ensuring direct cooperation and comprehension of local settings.

13. While it is difficult to assess the impact of technology transfer from abroad through leek of an appropriate database, one may advocate the idea of a move away from the type of turnkey transfers which do not genuinely enhance human resources development and knowledge at the local level. The dependency syndrome created by excessive reliance on foreign investment is not conducive to broadening the base of local industries, in particular in rural areas where the majority of people live.

14. While traditionally human rights were advocated against agents of the state in the exercise of their power against individuals and groups, the role and responsibility of the private business sector has come to the fore because of its impact on human rights and technology. One is at a juncture when accountability is not only expected from the state but also from the private sector. This is closely related to the exploitation of natural resources and the development process.

15. The rise of environmentalist groups as allies in human rights advocacy attests to the broadening of human rights to cover environmental concerns. This correlates with the assertion that the ecosystem affects not only this generation but also posterity, thereby having intergenerational implications. It also pinpoints the pattern of human rights advocacy, which has moved beyond organizations dealing with political rights to others dealing with socio-economic and environmental concerns.

16. Protection of human rights through appropriate utilization of technology calls into play the role of popular participation and the ability of individuals to form groups to fight for their rights.95 This is pertinent to the claims of rural people and disadvantaged sectors of the community, who have little access to the power structure and to control of technology. Unless the voice of the community is increased, people's access to the corridors of power and their impact on the responsiveness and accountability of those who hold the reins of power is likely to be limited. This implies the need to promote both formal groups, such as cooperatives, and non-formal groups, such as unregistered farmers' associations, as manifestations of popular participation

17. The fear that technology will result in a process of dehumanization, with overdependence upon computerization and machinery, should be countered by making technology serve human needs in the broadest sense of the term. This implies the utilization of technology, coupled with a sense of equity, for improving the lives of the ordinary pople.96

18. Training of manpower to respond to the development process should not merely be oriented to the production of material goods but also to the preservation of the cultural heritage and spiritual aspirations. If technology is to go hand in hand with these aspects, all concerned, including policy makers and technologically proficient personnel, will need to avoid too much emphasis upon the material aspects of development and to guide the utilization of technology towards the promotion of its non-material dimensions as well.

Ultimately, this implies that technology and human rights should not be seen merely as ends in themselves, but as a means of ensuring survival through the enhancement of the interdependence between nature and humanity.

Appendix 1

The following is a list of projects on science and technology, identified in the current planning of the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Energy (1990):

1. Study of improvements concerning the structure of the ministry.
2. Preparation of long-term plan on science and technology
3. Establishment of national committee on science and technology.
4. Drafting of law to develop science and technology.
5. Development of the ministry's potential in planning, administration, and operation.
6. Activities concerning analysis and evaluation of technology.
7. Development of the Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research.
8. Development of service personnel in science and technology.
9. Development of engineering.
10. Development of electronics and computers.
11. Development of technology and materials.
12. Remote sensing.
13. Setting up of factories for mineral transformation.
14. Research on rockets.
15. Development of nuclear substance.
16. Research on science and nuclear technology.
17. Development of the National Research Council.
18. Technology transfer for the automobile industry.
19. Nuclear technology transfer.
20. Establishment of committee on technology transfer.
21. Cooperative activities with other countries on science and technology.
22. Promotion of technology transfer through the private sector.
23. Planning for cooperation with other countries on technology transfer.
24. Development of laboratories.
25. Development of information centre on science and technology.
26. Development of indices on science and technology.
27. Setting up of revolving fund for research on science and technology.
28. Support for scientific and technological associations.
29. Establishment of joint private and public sector committee on science and technology.
30. Activities to raise funds for research.
31. Development of robots.
32. Pooling of resources for science and technology.
33. Dissemination of knowledge on science and technology.

Apart from these projects, there are many others falling under different sectors such as environment, rural development, and urbanization.


1. For general reading see C.G. Weeramantry, ea., Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Development (UNU, Tokyo, 1990); G. Brand, "Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Developments," Human Rights Journal, vol. 4 (1971): 351364; R. Diwan, "Transfer of Hard Technologies and Debasement of Human Rights," Human Rights Quarterly, vol. 3, no. 4 (1981): 19-44; M.D. Kirby, "Human Rights - The Challenge of the New Technology," Australian Law Journal, vol. 60 (1986): 170-181; M.D. Kirby, "Human Rights and Technology: A New Dilemma," University of British Columbia Law Review, vol. 22, no. 11 (1988): 123-145.

2. Bangkok Post Mid-year Economic Review (Bangkok, Post, Bangkok, 1990), p.11.

3. For general reading concerning the Thai situation, see Jaran Kosananand, Law, Liberty and Rights in Thai Society (Coordinating Group for Religion and Society, Bangkok, 1985) (in Thai); Saneh Chamarik, The Development of Human Rights in Thailand (Union for Civil Liberties, Bangkok, 1988) (in Thai); The Rights of the Thai Population (Coordinating Committee for Human Rights, Bangkok, 1989) (in Thai); Vitit

Muntarbhorn, Rights and Duties in Contemporary Thailand (Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, forthcoming).

4. This research was completed before the coup d'état in Thailand in February 1991.

5. Vitit Muntarbhorn, "Press for Freedom," Far Eastern Economic Review, 30 August 1990, p. 20

6. Vitit Muntarbhorn, "Human Rights and the Development Policies of Asian Nations," paper presented at the Conference on Human Rights and Foreign Policy, Columbia University, New York, June 1988.

7. UN GA Res. 41/128, 4 December 1986.

8. UN Doc. E/3447/Rev.l, pare. 90.

9. UN Doc. E/CN.4/1334, pare. 27

10. R.S. Merrill, "The Study of Technology," in D.L. Sills, ed. International Encyclopedia of Social Sciences, vol. 15 (Macmillan, New York, 1968), p. 576, as cited by H.V. Perlmuller and T. Sagafi-Ngad, International Technology Transfer- Guidelines, Codes and a Muffed Quadrilogue (Pergamon Press, 1981), p. 5.

11. F.R. Root, "The Role of International Business in the Diffusion of Technological Innovation," Economic and Business Bulletin, vol. 20, no. 4 (1968): 17-24, as cited by international Technology Transfer (note 10 above), p. 5.

12. Perlmuller and Sagafi-Nejad (note 10 above), p. 6.

13. Technology for Development (UN ESCAP, Tokyo, 1984), p. 3.

14. Mingsarn Santikarn, Technology Transfer (Singapore University Press, Singapore, 1981), p. 6.

15. Santikarn (note 14 above), p. 6.

16. Santikarn (note 14 above), p. 7.

17. Santikarn (note 14 above), p. 7.

18. Negotiation on an International Code of Conduct on the Transfer of Technology (UNCTAD, 1980), p. 12.

19. UNCTAD (note 18 above), p. 12.

20. UNCTAD (note 18 above), p. 12.

21. Narong Rattana, "Technology Transfer to Rural Areas," Technology: Quarterly Dissemination Documents, vol. 5, no. 1 (1984): 1-20, 13 (in Thai).

22. Boontan Doktaisong, Appropriate Technology for Thai Rural Development (Odeon Store Press, Bangkok, 1987), p. 219 (in Thai).

23. Science and Technology Policies: Evolution and Operation (Ministry of Science, Technology and Energy, Bangkok, 1988), pp. 18-19.

24. A statement by the then Prime Minister of Thailand, Prem Tinsulanonda, exemplified the open arms attitude towards the role of foreign investment in 1984, as reported in the Bangkok Post, 8 July 1984, p. 1: "Thailand has had no negative experience with multinational corporations, although I am aware that opinions differ on their role in other countries. They can make substantial contributions in transferring technology and management know-how to local entrepreneurs."

25. The 1978 Constitution has the following provision on technology, research and development: "Section 61: The state should encourage researches in arts and sciences and should promote the application of science and technology in the development of the country."

26. Industrial Property (Laws and Treaties), May 1980, Text 1-000, pp. 001-012. For comments, see Thailand Business Legal Handhook (International Legal Counsellors/Board of Investment, Bangkok, 1984).

27. See note 26 above.

28. See note 26 above.

29. Collection of Laws Pertaining to Investment Promotion (Board of Investment, Bangkok, 1983).

30. Manual for Requesting Reduction of Tariffs on Machinery, Materials and Equipment to Save Energy and Protect the Environment (Ministry of Science, Technology and Energy, Bangkok, 1988), pp. 9-40 (in Thai).

31. Manual for Loan Applications for the Revolving Fund for Research and Development of Technology (Ministry of Science, Technology and Energy, Bangkok, 1986) (in Thai).

32. Fifth National Economic and Social Development Plan (National Economic and Social Development Plan, Bangkok, 1981), p. 278.

33. GA Res. 35/56, 5 December 1980, annex, pare. 95.

34. Training Manual for Basic Minimum Needs Indicators in Rural Areas (Community Development Department, Bangkok, 1989) (in Thai).

35. See note 34 above, annex, pp. 19-20.

36. See further, The Quality of Life Project 1985-87 (National Economic and Social Development Board, Bangkok, 1987), Manual for Utilisation of Basic Minimum Needs Indicators (Gor Chor Chor Song Kor) (Community Development Department, Bangkok, 1989). Cf. Compendium of Social Development Indicators in the ESCAP Region (UN ESCAP, n.d.).

37. See note 34 above, p. 30.

38. Basic Minimum Needs and Services for Children (National Youth Bureau, Bangkok, 1990) (in Thai). The indicators include nutritional needs, physical needs, mental needs, educational needs, cultural needs, occupational needs, and needs concerning political rights and duties.

39. Pilop Potipruck, "The Death of Thai Farmers and Agriculture," Matichon Newspaper, 26 February 1987, pp. 6-7 (in Thai).

40. "Directions for Agricultural Development," Economic and Social Journal, vol. 25, no. 2 (1988): 18-24 (in Thai).

41. The Sixth National Economic and Social Development Plan (National Economic and Social Development Board, Bangkok, 1987), pp. 149- 167.

42. Tamrong Prempridi et al., Research Projects on Appropriate Technology for Rural Development (Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, n.d.).

43. Somnuk Siplung, "The National Plan Abandons Agriculture," Thai Rath Newspaper, 5 January 1988, p. 8 (in Thai).

44. Compendium of Plant Species (Ministry of Agriculture, Bangkok, 1987) (in Thai).

45. Mingsarn Kaosa-Ard et al., eds., Agricultural Information and Technological Change in Northern Thailand (Thailand Development Research Institute, Bangkok, 1989), p. 31.

46. Kaosa-Ard et al. (note 45 above), p. 36.

47. The Use of Technology by Farmers in Rice Cultivation (Ministry of Agriculture, Bangkok, 1987), p. 44 (in Thai).

48. See note 47 above, p. 45.

49. Kaosa-Ard et al. (note 45 above).

50. Kaosa-Ard et al. (note 45 above).

51. See note 47 above, p. 116.

52. See note 47 above, p. 116.

53. Prempridi et al. (note 42 above).

54. Prempridi et al. (note 42 above).

55. Prempridi et al. (note 42 above).

56. Prempridi et al. (note 42 above), p. 35

57. For further reading on land problems, particularly the link with national forestry, and the changing pattern of landholdings, see "The Management of Agricultural Resources," Economic and Social Journal, vol. 25, no. 5 (1988): 2-29 (in Thai); Thailand Natural Resources Profile (Thailand Development Research Institute, Bangkok, 1987), chap. 2.

58. Costs and Conditions of Technology Transfer through Transnational Corporations (UN ESCAP/UNCTC, 1984).

59. Technology Strategy and Policy for Industrial Competitiveness: A Case Study of Thailand (World Bank, Washington, D.C., 1990), p. 33.

60. D. Menasveta and K.I. Matics, "Technical Assistance Rendered by the Federal Republic of Germany to Thailand (1961-75) in Marine Fisheries Research and Development," Report of the Working Party on the Promotion of Fishery Resources Research in Developing Countries (FAO, Rome, 1980), pp. 193-211.

61. See note 32 above, p. 60.

62. See note 32 above, part IV, chap. 2.

63. See note 32 above, p. 63.

64. See note 32 above, p. 215.

65. Kosit Panpiemras, ea., Rural Industrialisation in Thailand (National Economic and Social Development Board, Bangkok, 1988), p. 73.

66. World Bank (note 59 above), p. 24. The World Bank study notes: ''sub-contracting has not developed to the extent necessary to play a role in the industrial deepening process in Thailand. Weaknesses in the quality of supporting industries, especially in the engineering fields, may be expected to continue as important stumbling blocks. Basic support industries are extremely limited in two areas: 1. traditional technologies such as foundry, forging, metal fabrications; and 2. newer technology industries such as powder metallurgy, ceramic coating, precision mechanics, fine chemicals and engineering plastics. In a country such as Thailand where smaller enterprises are so numerous, subcontracting could be an important transmitter of technology. "

67. See note 29 above.

68. The operation of this and other financial institutions concerning small-scale industries is elaborated in Akira Kuroda and Shuji Kasajima, The Development Strategies for the Small and Medium Scale Industries in Thailand (Ministry of Industry, Bangkok, 1987).

69. See note 68 above.

70. Sompong Patpui, The Rights of Slums (Thai Khadi Institute, Bangkok, 1987) (in Thai).

71. See note 41 above, pp. 289-290.

72. See note 41 above, p. 292.

73. See note 41 above, p. 297

74. See note 41 above, pp. 321-322.

75. See note 41 above, pp. 111-112; Thira Phatumvanit and Suthawan Sathirathai, "Thailand: Degradation and Development in a Resource-rich Land," Environment, vol. 30, no. 1 (1988): 11-32.

76. Phatumvanit and Sathirathai (note 75 above), pp. 135-145.

77. The Nam Choan Dam and World Sanctuary (Lovers of Forests Group, Bangkok, 1988) (in Thai).

78. Royal Thai Government Gazette, vol. 88, no. 43, 23 April 1971, reprinted by the De partment of Mineral Resources, Bangkok, pp. 1-38.

79. Royal Thai Government Gazette, vol. 106, no. 9, part 8 (special issue), 14 January 1989 (in Thai).

80. See note 41 above. The Sixth Plan notes (p. 112): "At present 33 million rai of national reserve area has been encroached upon, representing 25.8 per cent of total reserves. There are no title deeds for approximately 50 per cent of agricultural land, which creates uncertainty regarding ownership on the part of the farmers. This ownership problem has also impeded the growth of efficiency in land use because there is no incentive for farmers to improve and maintain the land. As a result, the crop yield tends to decrease. These factors, together with an increase in population, contribute to additional encroachments on forest land for cultivation purposes, which, in turn, leads to further destruction of forest areas and more land ownership problems."

81. See note 41 above, p. 137; also W. Tips et al., Implementation Problems of Agricultural Land Reform in Thailand (Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, 1987).

82. Eucalyptus Plantation in Thailand (Ministry of Agriculture, Bangkok, 1986); Siam Rath Weekly, 2-15 April 1989, pp. 16-43 (in Thai).

83. For leading article and text, see International Law: News and Information from Asia and the Pacifc (Bangkok, UNESCO, June 1990).

84. Chalermsak Wanichsombat, "Administration of Environmental Impact Assessment in Thailand," paper presented at the Expert Group Meeting on Environmental Impact Assessment of Development Projects, Bangkok, August 1988. See further, Environmental Impact Assessment: A Guideline for Planners and Decision Makers (UN ESCAP, Bangkok, 1985).

85. The current situation (1990) is documented in First National Assembly on Child Development: Report (Office of the Prime Minister, Bangkok, 1990).

86. The Situation concerning Science and Technology in Thailand (Ministry of Science, Technology, and Energy, Bangkok, 1987), p. 81 (in Thai).

87. For the situation in Asia, including Thailand, see Vitit Muntarbhorn, "Teaching Programmes and Systems in Human Rights in Asia and the Pacific," paper presented at the UNESCO International Congress on Human Rights Teaching, Information and Documentation, Malta, August-September 1987.

88. Vitit Muntarbhorn, "Practical Teaching of Human Rights," Human Rights Today and Tomorrow: The Role of Human Rights Commissions and Other Organs (LAWASIA Human Rights Committee, Manila, 1988), pp. 280-309.

89. Alternative Human Rights for Thai Youth: A Report (Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, 1986).

90. Summary Report of the Village Mediation Project (Chulalongkorn University/ Department of Public Prosecutions, Bangkok, 1988) (mimeo).

91. Report of the Legal Literacy/Dissemination Project for Thai Agricultural Youth (Law Communicators Group/Child Welfare Association, Bangkok, 1990) (mimeo).

92. World Bank (note 59 above), p. 44.

93. World Bank (note 59 above), p. 45.

94. World Bank (note 59 above), p. 30.

95. See further, Poverty: World Development Report 1990 (World Bank/Oxford University Press, New York, 1990), chap. 4.

96. See further, Weeramantry (note 1 above).

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