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Mines on premier’s UN speech agenda

Prime Minister Hun Sen will attend the opening of the UN’s General Assembly in New York today and has vowed to push demining as a development issue, despite it not being on the UN’s agenda.

Speaking at the Sokha Hotel on Tuesday, the premier questioned the issue’s exclusion.

“There is no agenda about landmines. I don’t know . . . how is that? In my speech, I will talk about landmines even if it is not on the agenda,” he said, citing deaths from mines and UXO as well as tourism concerns.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) launched in 2000 are set to expire this year and be replaced by the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Demining was not included in either set of goals officially, however Cambodia declared it a ninth MDG and has included it in their reports to the UN Development Programme (UNDP), most recently in 2013.

According to Lang Sok, a UNDP-Cambodia communications analyst, the inclusion of demining would affect Cambodia’s ability to attract foreign aid as the country develops.

“Alternative sources for financing mine clearance will have to be identified . . . In this context, it would have been helpful had mine clearance been included,” she wrote in an email.

Because SDGs and MDGs are the “result of extensive high level inter-governmental negotiations”, the UNDP declined to comment on the exclusion of demining.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY VONG SOKHENG

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