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International Conference “Weaving the Threads of Migration, Sustainable Development and The Pandemic”

17 December, 2020 @ 9:00 am - 4:30 pm


  • Asian Research Center for Migration


  • Chulalongkorn University Social Research Institute
  • College of Population Studies, Chulalongkorn University
  • Global Alliance Against Traffic of Women
  • ILO (International Labor Organization) Thailand
  • SEA Junction

The Asian Research Center for Migration (ARCM) at the Institute of Asian Studies (IAS), Chulalongkorn University is organising its annual international conference to commemorate
International Migrants Day on the 17th December 2020. This year’s theme examines the impacts of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic on migration, mobility and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Thailand, ASEAN and beyond.

Although Covid-19 is a global health crisis, state securitization, closure of borders and restrictions on travel have affected all types of migrants, migration and mobility. Disruptions made to national economies have affected migrants’ incomes and livelihoods. Pre-existing inequalities in terms of access to health care, education and other basic needs have become magnified as well as new forms of disparities created. Growing evidence also shows that the impacts of the pandemic are deeply gendered, including increased risks of violence against women and children.

What is now clear is that the pandemic presents a transnational challenge that will re-shape economies into the foreseeable future with repercussions for migrants, migration and mobility. Major strides made in recent years in terms of migrants’ rights, welfare and protection (for both voluntary and forced migrants) under the 2018 Global Compact for Migration and the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) frameworks may come to a halt with states looking more inward and prioritizing national interests to prevent further outbreaks of Covid-19 and worsening economic recession.

As we navigate through these uncertain times, this conference will bring together academics, government, civil society, national and international organisations, activists and the private sector to present, discuss and exchange knowledge and perspectives on the unfolding situation concerning migration, mobility and sustainable development in Thailand, origin countries in ASEAN and beyond this region.

On this special occasion, ARCM at the Institute of Asian Studies in collaboration with the College of Population Studies, Chula Research Cluster on Labour and Research Cluster on ASEAN, together with all co-hosts agree to launch the Network on Labour, Migration and Sustainable Development in ASEAN by signing a Letter of Intent to confirm our commitment in the cooperation on academic and research activities to achieve the SDGs.

Program and Schedule:

Time Programme

17th Decemeber 2020
International Migrants’ Day
ARCM Annual International Conference

 9.00 am BKK Time

Welcome and Opening Remarks:

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nualnoi Treerat, Director, Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University

Professor Dr. Chakkaphan Sutthirat, Vice President for Research, Chulalongkorn University

9.15am – 9.30am Launch of the International Network on Labour, Migration and Sustainable Development in ASEAN. Sign the Letter of Intent and Group Photo.

Weaving the Threads of Migration, Sustainable Development and Pandemic

Keynote Speaker: [TBC]

10.00-10.50.am Panel 1: Covid-19, (Im)mobility and Responsive Policies for Labour Migration

  1. IOM’s Policy on Labour Migration in ASEAN
    Presenter: Nissara Spence, National Project Officer, IOM Thailand
  2. Constraints and Roles of Employers during the Covid-19
    Presenter: Nilubon Phongphayorm, Network of SME employers [NOTE: English Summary]
  3. Labour Management Policy’s Implementation and Challenges
    Presenter: Adisorn KeadMongkol, labour migration expert and advisor to MOL Committee on Labour Migration Management
  4. Inclusive and Responsive Labour Migration Policy: Challenges and Opportunities
    Presenter: Dr. Ruttiya Bhula-or, College of Population Studies, Chulalongkorn University
  5. Ensuring migrant workers access to justice: an assessment of Thailand’s Migrant Workers Assistance Centers
    Presenter: Andreas Schmidt, International Labor Organization (ILO) Thailand

Convenor: Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Supang Chantavanich, ARCM; Dr. Aungkhana Kmonpetch, ARCM

10.50am -11.00am Reflections and Q & A
11.00am-11.45am Panel 2: The Status of Children During and Post-Pandemic

  1. Health and Prevention for Children
    Presenter: Dr. Cynthia Muang, Mae Tao Clinic
  2. New Normal of education modules
    Presenter: Rangsun Wiboonuppatum, UNICEF
  3. Children at Risks (Street Children)
    Presenter: Sebastien Le Mouëllic, Friends International (TBC)
  4. Situation of Children along the border
    Presenter: Siraporn Kaewsombat, Help without Frontier

Convenor: Dr Premjai Vungsiriphisal, Senior Researcher, ARCM

11.45. – 12.00 pm Reflections and Q & A

Lunch Break

1.00pm-1.45pm Panel 3:  Migrant’s Experiences and Situation Update from Origin Countries

  1. “New” or “Better” Normal for Migrants in ASEAN?
    Presenter: Dr. Rosalia Sciortino, Founder & Executive Director, SEA-Junction 
  2. Situation update of Seasonal Agricultural Migrants from Cambodia
    Presenter: Police Lt. Col. Dr. Thammayura Surattisupapat, Deputy Superintendent, Chantaburi Immigration Office
  3. Covid-19’s Response and Situation Update from Myanmar
    Presenter: Dr Zarni Lynn Kyaw, Policy Manager, Community Partners International
  4. The impacts of Covid-19 on Thai-Malay migrant workers in the Deep South of Thailand
    Presenter: Dr.Alisa Hasamoh, Lecturer in Social Development Department, Prince of Songkla University
  5. IOM’s Flash Update on Covid-19 for Migrant workers
    Presenter: Ms. Pattarada Rittang, Senior Project Assistant, Labour Mobility and Human Development Unit, International Organization for Migration, Thailand

Convenor: Dr Pyone Myat Thu, Researcher, ARCM

1.45-2.00pm Reflections and Q & A
2.00-2.50pm Panel 4: Lessons from the Pandemic: The Future of Work and Sustainable Development

  1. Future of Work and Sustainable Development
    Presenter: Thetis Mangahas, former Deputy Regional Director, ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
  2. Labour Demands after Covid-19
    Presenter: Dr. Kiriya Kulkolkarn, Faculty of Economy, Thammasat University (TBC)
  3. Skill Development for Future Work and Migrant Workers
    Presenter: Dr. Yongyuth Chalamwong, Thailand Development Research Institute (TBC)
  4. Wages, Welfare and Protection for Migrant Workers
    Presenter: Representative from Office of Social Welfare and Labour Protection, Ministry of Labour (TBC) Note: English Summary
  5. Covid-19 and Low Wage Women Workers in Southeast and South Asia; Stories of Struggle and Resistance
    Presenter: Bandana Pattanaik, International Coordinator, Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women

Convenor: Assoc. Prof. Dr.  Naruemon Thabchumpon, Director of ARCM, Chulalongkorn University

2.50-3.00pm Reflections and Q and A
3.00-3.45pm Panel 5: Post Covid-19, Resilience and Safe Cities

  1. Conceptualising anti-slavery resilience and the contribution of place-based analysis and action
    Presenter: Dr. Alison Gardner, Professor and Researcher, the Rights Lab, University of Nottingham, the United Kingdom
  2. Civil society’s resilience to precariousness of women working conditions during the pandemic in Rio de Janeiro
    Presenter: Dr. Silvia Pinheiro and Heloisa Gama, Centre of Modern Slavery at the BPC policy centre, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  3. Presenter: Dr. Carlos Cunhae, Dr. Rehana Capurchande and Dr. Lurdes Rodrigues, the Eduardo Mondlane University, Maputo, Mozambique
  4. Presenter: Miss Nattakarn Noree and Dr Ratchada Jayagupta, ARCM, Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand.

Convenor: Dr Ratchada Jayagupta, senior researcher and specialist lecturer, ARCM, Chulalongkorn University.

3.45-4.00pm Reflections and Q and A

Concluding Remarks

Vulnerabilities, Remedies and the Road to Sustainability

Keynote Speaker: Emeritus Professor of Law. Dr. Vitit Muntarbhorn, KBE

Throughout the day Exhibition and Poster Presentations of particpants’ work in the Social Innovation Hub, Chulalongkorn University

  • Thai CSO Coalition for Sustainable and Ethical Seafood (Oxfam, MWRN, RakThai, HRDF, Stella Maris, LPN, FED)
  • IOM, ILO, UNICEF, SEA Junction
  • Private sector
  • Product Vendors
  • Video on screen loop: Concerning gender-based violence and sexual harassment


Panel Descriptions:

Panel 1: Covid-19, (Im)mobility and Responsive Policies for Labour Migration

Convenor: Emeritus Professor Dr. Supang Chantavanich, expert adviser, ARCM 

Usually community resilience has to do with relocation. But Covid 19 lockdown and national border closing become obstacles to their coping strategies. Migrant workers in foreign destinations are forced either to rush back home or stay with uncertainty in countries of destination. In Southeast Asia, migrant workers from Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar were working in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Their pre-existing inequalities are exacerbated by the pandemic and they are left at the intersection of vulnerabilities. To fight against such injustice, state (both destination and origin), employers and CSO networks can play vital roles in protecting workers during such crisis. This panel examines the impacts of the pandemic on migrant workers and discusses possible responsive policies for labour migration.


Panel 2: The Status of Children During and Post-Pandemic

Convenor: Dr. Premjai Vungsiriphal, Deputy Director, ARCM

The Covid 19 pandemic affects all people around the world, including children both locally and migrant children. Children are generally vulnerable because of their age, less ability to self-protect and are dependent on adults in one way or another. Such vulnerabilities can be more severe when they intersect with ethnicity, legal or migrant status.  During the pandemic, some children’s parents or care-giver may have lost their jobs or earn less income, lack health protection, and have limited access to education. This panel will present the situation of children and various impacts that have ensued as a result of the pandemic.


Panel 3: Migrants’ Experiences and Situation Updates from the Origin Countries

Convenor: Dr. Pyone Myat Thu, Researcher, ARCM

In March 2020, tens of thousands of migrant workers rushed to return to their origin countries ahead of Thailand shutting its national borders, due to fear of the spread of Covid-19, reduced or (fear of) loss of income and employment, lack of social protection, in addition to visa and work permit related concerns. During the same period, overseas Thai migrant workers flooded back home from other destination countries. This panel shifts the focus onto migrants’ precarious experiences with the outbreak of Covid-19 and also provides an update of current local situations and responses in the origin countries.

Panel 4: Lessons from the Pandemic: The Future of Work and Sustainable Development

Convenor: Associate Professor Dr. Naruemon Thabchumpon, Director, ARCM

The Asian Development Bank estimates global unemployment could affect between 158 million and 242 million people due to the economic disruptions of Covid-19, with 70% of job losses in Asia and the Pacific. Within this global climate of economic recession, the World Bank projects Thailand’s economy to shrink by 5% in 2020 and take more than two years to return to pre-COVID-19 GDP output levels. Consequently, both Thai and migrant workers’ employment, livelihoods and well-being will continue to be affected into the foreseeable future. This panel will examine current and future issues related to labour and workforce, paying close attention to rights at work, gender, skills development and progress made towards achieving the SDGs. 

Panel 5: Post Covid-19, Resilience and Safe Cities

Convenor: Dr Ratchada Jayagupta

The Global Cities Free of Slavery Project is the global collaboration between Rights Labs – University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, BRIC Policy Center – The Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique, and the Asian Research Center for Migration at the Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. The project aims to promote visibility to actors from public, private and CSO sectors involved in the eradication of slavery, and social groups vulnerable to modern slavery in the cities, aiming to strength resilience considering the diversity of aspects that interfere in the vulnerability to modern slavery in each city. The project oriented its debates to the effects of the pandemic on patterns of modern slavery, considering the impact of the emergency State policies on the labour market. Later, the topic of “GLOBAL CITIES FREE OF SLAVERY PARTNERS FORUM: A Covid-19 IMPACT ANALYSIS” was discussed on the impact of Covid-19 among partner universities.


Asian Research Center for Migration

The Asian Research Center for Migration (ARCM), based in the Institute of Asian Studies at Chulalongkorn University, is internationally recognised for undertaking timely, evidence-based and critical research on cross-border migration trends and processes in Thailand and more broadly, Southeast Asia. It seeks to provide information on migration-related themes to the general public in the form of published research, statistical data and policy recommendations. ARCM also offers its expertise and services to individuals and organisations through lectures, seminars, trainings and consultancies.


SEA Junction

SEA Junction, established under the Thai non-profit organization Foundation for Southeast Asia Studies (ForSEA), aims to foster understanding and appreciation of Southeast Asia in all its socio-cultural dimensions- from arts and lifestyles to economy and development. Conveniently located at Room 408 of the Bangkok Arts and Culture Center or BACC (across MBK, BTS National Stadium), SEA Junction facilitates public access to knowledge resources and exchanges among students, practitioners and Southeast Asia lovers. For more information see www.seajunction.org, join the Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/1693058870976440/ and follow us on twitter and Instagram @seajunction