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Mutual respect can bridge differences of opinion


United Nations special rapporteur on human rights Surya Subedi (C) visits Phnom Penh’s Borei Keila community in May. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post

United Nations special rapporteur on human rights Surya Subedi (C) visits Phnom Penh’s Borei Keila community in May. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post

Dear Editor,

First of all, I have a great deal of respect for the Prime Minister of Cambodia, both as a person and as the leader of the country and the Government.

I recognise that the Prime Minister has achieved a great deal for Cambodia.

But there is room for improvement in the governance of Cambodia, and my job is to identify the shortcomings in the system and offer my recommendations to address them.

I do not wish to descend into criticism at a personal level, nor do I wish to have a dialogue with the Prime Minister or anybody in the government through the media.

I have had a good level of co-operation from the government of Cambodia, and my dialogue with the Prime Minister has been productive in the past. I look forward to working with him in the future.

Our approach may differ on some issues, but they can be addressed in a mutually respectful manner and through dialogue.

I am working in my professional capacity in Cambodia, and I expect others to do the same.

I am not representing Nepal in Cambodia. I am a professor of international law, a barrister in England and a human-rights advocate.

I am an independent expert working on behalf of the United Nations with a view to helping the people of Cambodia.

I have also been advising, in my personal capacity, the government of Nepal on legal and constitutional matters.

Nepal has a liberal democracy in which the judiciary is independent and people do not go to jail for criticising the government.

The civil society is vibrant, and the government in Nepal respects, and listens to, the representatives of  civil society.

Nepal has a democratic interim constitution at the moment, and people have been trying to write a new constitution with a view to strengthening democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

Both Cambodia and Nepal have gone through similar experiences in the past, and have a great deal to learn from each other.

I have welcomed, and would welcome, any advice the Prime Minister of Cambodia has for the people and the government of Nepal.

Both of these ancient Asian nations have a rich cultural heritage, and the people of Nepal respect the people of Cambodia for who they are and what they have been able to achieve.

Surya P. Subedi
United Nations Special Rapporteur for Cambodia
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The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post



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