UN Human Rights Office congratulates prominent Thai academic on becoming UN's first SOGI Independent Expert

BANGKOK (30 September 2016) - The South-East Asia Regional Office of UN Human Rights congratulates Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn, from Thailand, on his appointment as the first ever UN Independent Expert on the “protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI)".

More than 600 non-governmental organizations from over 150 countries advocated for the adoption of the resolution and for the establishment of the SOGI position by the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council.

“Professor Muntarbhorn is one of most recognised international human rights experts, and has already contributed greatly to the UN’s work across a variety of very important mandates,” said Laurent Meillan, acting regional representative of the UN Human Rights Office, South-East Asia.

“We are delighted that an expert from the Asia-Pacific region has been selected to take up this groundbreaking position to help protect the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community. We are looking forward to cooperating with him and supporting his mandate."

Sadly, in all regions of the world, there are reports of pervasive, violent abuse, hatred, harassment and discrimination affecting LGBT and intersex persons. There is an increasing need to raise awareness about SOGI, and to support governments to develop rights-sensitive legislation that promotes and protects the rights of LGBTI.

Prof. Muntarbhorn is highly respected among human rights activists and academics in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. He has served as the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography; Chair of the International Commission of Inquiry on the Ivory Coast in 2011 and; as a Commissioner on the Independent International Commission of inquiry on Syria.

Prof. Muntarbhorn has performed a substantial amount of work with non-governmental organizations in the field of human rights, as well as with the Red Cross and Red Crescent. Prof. Muntarbhorn is the author of many publications on human rights issues, including women, children and human rights and human development. He was awarded the UNESCO Human Rights Education Prize in 2004.

Independent Experts serve in their personal capacities. They undertake to uphold independence, efficiency, competence and integrity through probity, impartiality, honesty and good faith. They are not United Nations staff members and do not receive financial remuneration. The independent status of the mandate-holders is crucial for them to be able to fulfil their functions in all impartiality.


For media inquiries, please contact Jeremy Laurence (+66 84 700 4671 / laurencej@un.org)

For your news websites and social media: Key messages about our news releases are available on UN Human Rights social media channels, listed below. Please tag us using the proper handles

  • Twitter: OHCHRAsia
  • Facebook: UNHumanRightsAsia
  • Google+: unitednationshumanrights
  • Youtube: unohchr

  • The Regional Office for South-East Asia in Bangkok represents the High Commissioner for Human Rights within South East Asia. The High Commissioner for Human Rights is the principal human rights official of the United Nations and heads the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which spearheads the United Nations' human rights efforts.