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Groups in Geneva to Lobby for UN Envoy


[Editor's note: Kek Galabru, founder of the rights group Licadho, recently traveled to Geneva, where the ninth annual meeting of the UN's Human Rights Council is considering whether to continue the mandate of a UN rights envoy to Cambodia. She spoke to VOA Khmer by phone from Geneva.]

Q. What is the aim of your trip?

A. I have come to Geneva with Adhoc president Thun Saray and four other Khmers, who live in the foreign countries and have helped facilitate our participation in the Human Rights Council annual meeting in Geneva. The Human Rights Council is opening a meeting from Sept. 8 until Sept. 23. In the meeting they will also bring the Cambodia issue to discussion, regarding the mandate of the UN representative on human rights in Cambodia. We civil society want to see the term of the UN representative to be continued in Cambodia. We don't want to see them cut this term out of Cambodia.

Q. Alongside the discussion about the term of the UN representative on human rights, what are the specific things that the meeting is focusing on?

A. In that meeting they are not only focusing on the Cambodian issue, but they are also talking about children and women's issues, as well as some other issues. But in that meeting, they have raised our Cambodian issue. We really want the term of the UN representative on human rights in Cambodia to be continued, as we know that the Cambodian government doesn't want this mandate to be continued. So our civil society strives hard to talk about it with the Human Rights Council members in order to lobby and negotiate with our Cambodian government so that the Cambodian government can allow the mandate to continue. Whether the UN representative on human rights can continue its mandate depends on the Cambodian government's permission.

Q. The Cambodian government plans to close the Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights in Cambodia. Is the Human Rights Council in Geneva reacting to this plan?

A. The permanent Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights in Cambodia won't be discussed in this Geneva meeting. It could be discussed between our government and the United Nations, and should not be discussed at the Human Rights Council. The Human Rights Council is talking about the mandate of the UN Special Representative on Human Rights. We have received unofficial information that perhaps our government won't oppose this suggestion. But the UN secretary-general, he doesn’t want the UN Special Representative appointed by him anymore. So he wants to see the UN Special Rapporteur instead of a UN special representative. For the mandate, we really want to see that the position of the UN Rapporteur remains the same as the position of the UN Special Representative’s position, in coming into Cambodia to monitor the human rights situation and then reporting to the Cambodian government on how to change those institutions in order to respect human rights.

Q. If the Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights in Cambodia closes, what will be the affect to the civil society and the political situation?

A. We hope that the Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights in Cambodia won't close its door. If the government does not allow this office to continue its work, it will affect a lot to the Cambodia people because we still have a lot of human rights issue that so far haven't been solved completely. So we need more cooperation with the UN, we need more technical support and human resources support. So I think we still need more support from them.

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