DEMOCRACY MATTERS: HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY IN THAILAND FROM 2001 TO 2017

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Authors
Roase, Mickey
Subjects
Thailand
democracy
authoritarian
human rights
Political Terror Scale
Polity IV Project
Advisors
Malley, Michael S.
Date of Issue
2019-03
Date
Publisher
Monterey, CA; Naval Postgraduate School
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Abstract
Conventional wisdom suggests that human rights abuses increase under authoritarianism or autocratic governments and decline under democratic governments. However, despite frequent regime changes in Thailand since 2001, human rights abuses in the country have remained generally persistent. To explain this puzzling circumstance, this thesis examines data from the Political Terror Scale (PTS), the Polity IV Project, the U.S. State Department, and nongovernmental human rights organizations. The thesis finds that all governments in Thailand between 2001 and 2017—even those that are usually described as democratic—displayed significant authoritarian characteristics, and that the persistence of authoritarianism also explains the persistence of human rights abuses throughout this period. More specifically, the thesis shows that only Thaksin Shinawatra’s government (2001–2006) can be classified as democratic, and Thaksin explicitly pledged to rule Thailand with an iron fist. All other governments were either clearly authoritarian or semi-authoritarian; none should be categorized as clearly democratic. Therefore, the persistently high level of human rights abuse should be viewed as a result of persistently authoritarian aspects of government in Thailand.
Type
Thesis
Description
Series/Report No
Department
National Security Affairs (NSA)
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NPS Report Number
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Distribution Statement
Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.
Rights
This publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.
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