Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 385–404 | Cite as

The Green Bench: Can an environmental court protect natural resources in Thailand?

  • Narong KiettikunwongEmail author


Environmental destruction due to development is widespread throughout Thailand, and is increasing, both in scope and severity. In addition, tensions between developers (sometimes including the government) and the public have risen, and will only become more strained as both sides become more aggressive in their tactics and demands. Members of the public and the public sector have filed nearly five thousand civil and criminal claims to force government agencies to take action against or revoke permits from corporations or development projects causing environmental destruction. However, the prolonged period required for judicial remedies to be administered appears to significantly worsen the overall environmental impact of development projects, which continue to create environmental problems while cases are lodged, heard, appealed, and ultimately decided upon. Today, using existing civil or criminal court systems and attempting to treat environmental cases differently within their procedures requires tremendous effort and also specific environmental knowledge in order to ensure a fair judicial process. Thus, many have proposed reforming judicial procedures for environmental cases by establishing a specialist environmental court or tribunal. In addition, a specialist court would be expected to issue sound judgments, producing a record in case law and contributing to good jurisprudence. This article provides an overview of the establishment of environmental courts as specialized agencies in several different countries in order to shed light on how such a transformation might feasibly be undertaken. Additionally, the article analyses the possibilities for establishing an environmental court or tribunal as a specialized agency in Thailand.


Justice Litigation Environment Pollution Environmental governance 



This paper would not have been possible without the support of College of Local Administration and Research Group on Local Affairs Administration, Khon Kaen University. I am also in gratitude and indebted to my colleagues, mentors and friends for their unending support. I also want to acknowledge my fellow researchers in what is a great deal to the thoughts, viewpoints and knowledge shared by them.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Author declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by author.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Local Administration, Research Group on Local Affairs AdministrationKhon Kaen UniversityKhon KaenThailand

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