- The right to conscientious objection is not recognised for professional soldiers, nor for
Conscription is enshrined in article 73 of the Constitution of 2007, which reads: “Every person shall have a duty to serve in armed forces (...)”.
It is further regulated in the Military Service Act B.E. 2497
Every Thai male is required to enlist in the military reserve force at the age of 18 years. At the age of 21 years, they are screened for physical disabilities and recruited on a
demand basis for two years of military service as private soldiers.
All men aged 21 to 30 are liable for a two years' military service,
with reservist duties applying afterwards. Buddhist monks, students
in certain technical studies and naturalised students are exempted.
The exemption of naturalised students is meant to exclude Chinese
from joining the armed forces.
It is possible to volunteer for military service from the age of 18, in which case military service
will be between six and 18 months, depending on ones education level.
Volunteer soldiers with a bachelor's degree are in service for only
six months and those who have diplomas or have completed the second
year of the army's territorial defence training serve only one year.
Call-up takes place once a year. Each is given a
quota of the number of recruits needed by the armed forces. As the
number of liable conscripts is far higher than the number needed by
the armed forces, recruitment is by ballot: those drawing a red
ticket had to perform military service; those drawing a black ticket
did not. In the 80s and 90s the recruitment system increasingly
became subject to public debate. Obviously the system was likely to
lead to favouritism on the hands of influential or rich people. As a
result most of the conscripts in the armed forces had a poor and
Military service can be postponed for males who
are studying in higher education institutions, but for no longer than
Alternatively, young males can engage in an extracurricular course for students of upper secondary and higher
education. The course is offered by the Territorial Defence
Department, Ministry of Defence, requiring five years to complete.
The minimum requirement for this course is the participation for
three years as a reserve officer training corps (ROTC) student.
Titles of provisional second sergeant, first sergeant and second
lieutenant are granted to those who complete three, four and five
years of ROTC respectively.
ROTC graduates are exempted from military service
as private soldiers. They form part of the reserve forces without
having served in the army. Some are later called to join the army
when needed, but only a few are recruited each year. Males and
females aged 15 to 22 years, with Grade 9 education are eligible to
participate in the ROTC programme.
In 2005, 80,000 of total of 190,000 Royal Thai
army personnel were conscripts,
as were 27,000 of a total of 64,000 Royal Thai navy personnel.
There are several paramilitary forces who compose
the defence force of a territory and may be considered as the reserve
forces. Thailand, in fact, plans to increase the strength of its
reserve forces as it regards it as a way to enhance defence
capabilities at a lower cost.
The recruitment methods of these paramilitary
forces are not known.
More than 60% of the Thai Armed
Forces is comprised of professional soldiers. However, not much is
known about recruitment practice and service conditions.
Conscientious objection for conscripts
no known legal provision for conscientious objection.
Conscientious objection for professional soldiers
As Thailand does not recognise the right to conscientious objection for conscripts, it also does not recognise the right to conscientious objection for professional
The rules for terminating a service contract prematurely are not known.
Draft evasion and desertion
Draft evasion has been a widespread problem. In 1999, it was reported that an estimated 30,000 persons, most of them sons of rich and influential people, evade
Corruption is widespread to avoid military service, according to
According to section 25 in
conjunction with section 44 of the Military Service Act, failing to
report oneself upon notice, can be punished with not more than 3
months imprisonment or a fine of 300 Thai Baht (£5.50) or both.
Not attending military service
selection can be punished with imprisonment of not more than 3 years,
under section 27 in conjunction with section 45 of the Military
Details of punishment for avoiding military service are not known.