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Foreign Minister Gathers Diplomats for Security Council Bid

A farmer carries bundles of rice seedlings to be planted, on the outskirts of Lahore, Pakistan.

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong met with diplomats from 32 countries on Monday to lobby for Cambodia’s bid to be a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Cambodia is pushing for a seat on the council for 2013 and 2014; voting will be held later this year.

The Security Council consists of five permanent members—China, France, the UK, the US and Russia—and 10 non-permanent members and decides on international matters ranging from deployment of peacekeeping forces to sanctions against member nations.

“Becoming a [Security Council] member is a very important responsibility and would be an honor for Cambodia,” said Ou Virak, head of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights.

However, Cambodia’s poor human rights record, its failure to approve a UN-appointed judge at the Khmer Rouge tribunal and past threats to shut down the UN’s human rights office all stand as black marks against it, he said.

In a meeting with 26 ambassadors and eight consuls, Hor Nahmong cited Cambodia’s chairmanship of Asean this year and its handling of the ongoing border row with Thailand through the UN as virtues, a spokesman for the ministry said.

However, Ou Virak said Cambodia has not shown itself to be a “good member” of the UN, although politically it could win a vote for a seat on the UN council because “many countries pity Cambodia.”

Political analyst Lao Monghay said Cambodia’s diplomats and consuls around the world must work hard to lobby other states for votes later this year.

“We’ve gained an understanding of and experience with international affairs,” he said. “The international community recognizes Cambodia, and we have faith in ourselves.”