The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Cambodia was due last night to present his 2011 report to the Human Rights Council in New York, where Foreign Minister Hor Namhong is attending the UN General Assembly’s annual debate. The report, first published on August 2, looks at various human rights issues in the Kingdom including the role of parliament, freedom of expression and land and housing rights. Hor Namhong was also due to deliver answering remarks on the report to the Human Rights Council. Special Rapporteur Surya Subedi has been monitoring the situation of human rights in Cambodia since 2009 and has delivered three annual reports with recommendations for the government.
The 2011 report acknowledges the progress that Cambodia has made in respect of human rights and transitioning to a full democracy, but notes there is still much work to be done, a sentiment echoed in Hor Namhong’s statement to the General Assembly. On Monday, Hor Namhong said the “continued economic and financial instability in the developed world has exacerbated uncertainty in funding for development projects in poor countries”. He said Cambodia was working hard to achieve the UN Millenium Development Goals, but faced many financial obstacles. However, his statement did not address the most recent funding freeze for development projects in Cambodia from the World Bank, a move that was motivated by the government’s failure to resolve the land dispute at Boeung Kak in Phnom Penh.
Since the World Bank funding freeze, the government has moved to resolve the land dispute by granting families at the lake 12.44 hectares of land, however unrest still remains and violence erupted between protestors and authorities two weeks ago. Hor Namhong’s trip to New York is an important one for the Cambodian government, which is currently rallying support for a 2013-2014 seat as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Hor Namhong’s statement to the General Assembly included a call to remove sanctions from Cuba, a country that has vouched support for Cambodia’s Security Council bid. Subedi and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were not available for comment to the Post yesterday.