After many years of awaiting the trials of senior Khmer Rouge leaders, Cambodian survivors are now watching as their hopes of justice slip away.
Repeated funding crises and political impasses between the United Nations and Cambodian government have led to trials that took too long to begin and have taken too long to complete.
The latest crisis involves another strike by unpaid Cambodian staffers. UN officials point to Cambodia’s obligation to finance most of its side of the court.
Cambodian officials reply that they require donor support to meet those obligations. In the meantime, the tribunal’s work stalls again, frustrating the legitimate expectations that millions of victims invested in the process.
While both the United Nations and Cambodian government have been keen to emphasise one another’s obligations, they would do well to recall that they committed jointly to pursue the interest of justice for victims of the Khmer Rouge era. Both sides must contribute to overcome the current impasse and see Case 002 to fruition.
If the tribunal fails due to funding shortfalls, most Cambodian observers will hold both the United Nations and Cambodian government responsible.
If the tribunal comes to a strong conclusion, most Cambodians will give both sides credit. Signs of renewed commitment by both sides will help restore public confidence in an ailing process, which will generate momentum for further contributions by both the national authorities and foreign donors. Both UN and Cambodian leaders owe it to the Cambodian people not to miss that opportunity.
Documentation Center of Cambodia