UPCOMING EVENT: CU Graduate Student Seminar Series 'The Globalization of Environmental Law' [Bangkok, 30 July 2019]

The Globalization of Environmental Law: A Seminar and Discussion with Professor Tseming Yang

Tuesday 30 July 2019, 10.00 - 11.30 at Mekong Room, Stockholm Environment Institute, 10th Floor, Kasem Utthayanin Building (อาคารเกษม อุทยานิน), Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand (guide to the venue here)

Tseming Yang is a Professor of Law at Santa Clara University School of Law in California. He is the former Deputy General Counsel of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), appointed by President Barack Obama, and from 2007-10, he led the establishment of the US-China Partnership for Environmental Law, a USAID and State Department-funded initiative to build China’s institutional capacity in environmental law and governance. Professor Yang's research and practice focus on advancing understanding of the structure and role of the law with respect to the environment, as well as how to ensure that effective implementation will contribute to the achievement of justice and sustainability. He has an expertise in environmental law in international treaties, and in the law and governance systems of other countries.


  • Dr. Naporn Popattanachai, Assistant Dean for Administration and Director of the Centre for Natural Resources and Environmental Law, Faculty of Law, Thammasat University

  • May Thazin Aung, Research Associate, Stockholm Environment Institute

Moderator: Sara K. Phillips, PhD Candidate, GRID Program, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University and Doctoral Fellow, Stockholm Environment Institute

To register for this event, please send and e-mail to CU Graduate Student Seminar Series at cugradseminar@gmail.com.


NEW PUBLICATION: "BOOK: The Water-Food-Energy Nexus: Power, Politics and Justice"


Carl Middleton of CSDS is a co-author of a new book, “The Water-Food-Energy Nexus: Power Politics and Justice”.

The ‘nexus’ of relations between water, food and energy is often seen as a technical matter, addressing issues of risk, security or economics. In a new book in the Pathways to Sustainability series, Jeremy Allouche, Carl Middleton and Dipak Gyawali argue for a political approach to the Nexus.

Read the details of the book here, and download an open access chapter.


"Beyond the commonplace recognition that the 'nexus' conceptual basis is not new and that integrative imperatives already featured in IWRM, this book further examines the underbelly of the beast and convincingly exposes the political underpinnings of a concept presented as a-political and 'manageable' through integrative tools, expert modeling, bureaucratic reforms and rational efficiency-driven thinking. It reveals the underlying business imperatives and green economy logics, traces the global diffusion of the concept, and emphasizes that issues of distributional justice, knowledge production and democratization of governance need to take center stage if the concept is to be transformative rather than supporting the status quo. An excellent reading for all water students and scholars interested in deciphering the word of water concepts and the interests and values that undergird them." — Francois Molle, Editor of Water Alternatives [Full review here]

"We frequently hear of the nexus - but what does this mean, what does it entail, and where to begin? To such questions, Allouche offers a critical guide. Careful to consider complexities and uncertainties, the theoretical discussion coupled with multi-sited case studies, offers a compelling treatment. Readers wanting to know more of the concept, including political economic and equity implications, will find reading the book to be time well spent." — Leila M Harris, University of British Columbia, Canada

"Skilfully delving into the nuances of the nexus approach, the authors trace and explain the emergence of the ‘new’ concepts of nexus – between water, food, energy, environment and more. Unravelling the tangle of nexus-invoking discourses, motivations and practices yields a valuable, sense-making analysis." — John Dore, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

IN THE NEWS: Review of "The water-food-energy nexus. Power, politics and Justice"

By François Molle [Water Alternatives, 2019]


Although water-food-energy nexus thinking can hardly claim to be new wine, the growth of 'nexus literature' in the past ten years is remarkable. It has gained currency as a buzzword with the potential to convene water experts in global jamborees, to elicit books and special journal issues, and to challenge the long-established Integrated Water Resources Management concept as the new champion of integrative imperatives.

. . .

The book does a great job at showing how a water-energy-food nexus approach emphasises demand-led technological and market solutions, downplays supply-side limits, promotes a technical and supposedly apolitical treatment of trade-offs, and largely ignores the political dimensions that shape control over, and access to, resources. But even in its reductionist form of an optimising tool for cross-sectoral planning or business, the systemic complexity that the nexus seeks to address is baffling, and it is no wonder than in practice empirical work focuses on sub-nexuses using monetary metrics.


Carl Middleton of CSDS is the co-author of this book.

Read full article here
Buy the Book (coming soon)

AWARENESS: World Day of Social Justice [20 February]


Today, we observe the UN World Day of Social Justice!

It was observed following the Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 26 November 2007, in which the General Assembly recognized the following key points related to social justice:

  1. Social development and social justice are indispensable for the achievement and maintenance of peace and security within and among nations and that, in turn, social development and social justice cannot be attained in the absence of peace and security or in the absence of respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms;

  2. Broad-based and sustained economic growth in the context of sustainable development is necessary to sustain social development and social justice;

  3. Globalization and interdependence are opening new opportunities through trade, investment and capital flows and advances in technology, including information technology, for the growth of the world economy and the development and improvement of living standards around the world, while at the same time there remain serious challenges, including serious financial crises, insecurity, poverty, exclusion and inequality within and among societies and considerable obstacles to further integration and full participation in the global economy for developing countries as well as some countries with economies in transition;

  4. There is a need to consolidate further the efforts of the international community in poverty eradication and in promoting full employment and decent work, gender equality and access to social well-being and justice for all.

In CSDS, Human Rights, Human Security, and Justice is one of our working themes. Our most recent project in this theme is Flooding disaster, people’s displacement and state response in Hat Yai, where we examine through a human rights lens whether the 'Hat Yai model' offers new insights and strategies. Last year, on 29 November 2018, we also hosted a workshop to discuss about disaster and displacement in Asia Pacific. The discussion is part of a ten-country study on a range of types of disaster and displacement scenarios understood through a human rights perspective. The overall study examines how state actors fulfill their obligations to prevent displacement, conduct evacuation, protect people during displacement, and facilitate durable solutions in the aftermath. The insights from the workshop can be read in our report: Disaster and Displacement - A Human Rights Perspective.

Other recent publications that focus on social justice include:

For more information about the World Day of Social Justice and additional downloadable resources, please visit the official United Nations website.

UPCOMING INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE SESSION: "Thailand’s Overseas Investment in Southeast Asia and Transnational (In)Justice" [16 July 2017]

Session organized at the 13th International Conference on Thai Studies
"Globalized Thailand?" Connectivity, Conflict, and Conundrums of Thai Studies

15:15-16:45, 16th July 2017, Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Center

Session convened by the Center for Social Development Studies, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University

Thailand’s companies have become major investors in neighboring countries, including in agribusiness, hydropower, mining and various forms of industry. Thailand’s companies are backed by government policy, and typically financed by Thai commercial banks as well as, sometimes, Thailand’s Export Import Bank (Thai Exim). Thailand’s regional investment has furthermore been facilitated by various regional economic integration programs, including the Asian Development Bank’s Greater Mekong Subregion Program and more recently the ASEAN Economic Community. As one of the major economies of mainland Southeast Asia, Thailand has sought to positioned itself as central to economic regionalization. Given that Thailand itself is embedded within a wider global network of production, its companies’ investment in neighboring countries’ resource extraction and commodity production can also tied to a wider global political economy.

Whilst it seems that investment, commodities, goods and natural resources flow readily across borders, the same cannot be said of access to justice. In this panel, empirical case studies will be presented of Thailand’s cross-border investments that have in the process resulted in environmental and social harms, and in some cases violated human rights. The panel explores the various processes and arenas that have emerged as communities and civil society have sought redress and access to justice. These arenas have included in the national courts of the project host country, but also through various formal and informal cross-border processes that link to Thailand, including via Thailand’s National Human Rights Commission (TNHRC), and in one example a case ruled upon by Thailand’s administrative court. Meanwhile, a report of the TNHRC on the Dawei Special Economic Zone in Myanmar led to a Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommendation in March 2016 that the government should set up a mechanism for the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights for Thai companies investing overseas. Thus, a wider array of international norms is also brought into play, reflecting the legal pluralism that nowadays governs cross-border investments. This also brings into focus a question of the extra-territorial obligations of Thailand with regard to the investment of Thai companies.

This panel will critically evaluate Thailand’s investment role in the region through the lens of transnational social and environmental justice. Through empirical case studies on agribusiness, hydropower and special economic zones, the political economy of these investments will be explored in order to understand the production of injustice and human rights violations.  The papers will ask: what are the roles, opportunities and challenges for public interest law, national/ regional human rights institutions, other transnational soft law mechanisms, and civil society to protect and promote human rights on Thailand’s investments?

  • Paper 1:  Accountability Beyond the State: Extra territorial obligations in the case of the Koh Kong Sugar Industry Concession, Cambodia by Michelle D’cruz
  • Paper 2: Redressing transboundary environmental injustice at the Dawei Special Economic Zone and Roadlink Project by Naruemon Thabchumpon
  • Paper 3: Arenas of Water Justice on Transboundary Rivers: Human Rights and Hydropower Dams on the Salween and Mekong Rivers by Carl Middleton

Discussant: Walden Bello.

Chair: Daniel King

Abstracts can be downloaded here (see page 7; session 53). Conference details are available here.

UPCOMING PUBLIC SEMINAR: "Public Seminar on Human Rights" by Ronald L. Holzhacker and Stanati Netipatalachoochote [24 May 2017]

9:00-11:30, Alumni Meeting Room, 12th Floor, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University

Co-organized by the Master of Arts in International Development Studies (MAIDS), the MA in Southeast Asian Studies Program (SEAS), the Institute for Asian Studies, the Center for Social Development Studies (CSDS) of the the Faculty of Political Science Chulalongkorn University.