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UN Names New Rights Office Director to Cambodia

The UN has appointed a new director for its Cambodian Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Christoph Peschoux will replace Margo Picken in the position, working under the UN's special envoy, Yash Ghai. Yash Ghai is a controversial figure in Cambodia whom Prime Minister Hun Sen refuses to meet, following critical reports on Cambodia's human rights efforts and its one-man rule.

Peschoux worked for the UN human rights office in Cambodia in the 1990s and his appointment to the director position was seen as an attempt to reform the office, which critics say has not been active in recent years.

Sam Sophal, a Cambodian worker in the UN office, confirmed the new appointment, saying Peschoux's official start date was Sept. 1.

Other staff welcomed Peschoux's arrival, saying it would act as a progressive step toward greater human rights protection in Cambodia. Peschoux also has experience that will help him as a Khmer Rouge tribunal gets under way, one staff member said.