The United Nation's Third Committee voted overwhelmingly in favor of a draft resolution
on Nov 20 that, if passed by the UN's General Assembly, will give the Secretary-General
a fresh mandate to re-start talks with the Cambodian government on setting up a trial
for Khmer Rouge leaders.
The vote was 123 in favor of the resolution, 0 against, with 23 abstentions. Both
China and the US voted in favor of the resolution.
It is expected that the draft resolution will be submitted to the General Assembly
before the conclusion of the current 57th session on Dec 20.
Amnesty International (AI), in a news release issued from its New York headquarters,
has criticized the resolution, saying it is fatally flawed.
"If this resolution is passed it would fail to provide the end to impunity that
Cambodian people deserve," said AI. "We believe that the so-called 'mixed
tribunal' agreed upon in 2000 compromising a majority of Cambodian judges over international
judges, without an international prosecutor, fell short of required internationally
recognized standards and did not provide full guarantees of independence, impartiality
and credibility required to ensure that justice be done, and be seen to be done."
AI called upon the UN General Assembly to ensure that any new resolution for the
establishment of the tribunal be based upon new negotiations with the Cambodian authorities.
The organization said that there was nothing in the new draft resolution that would
address the serious flaws of the previous negotiations which resulted in the withdrawal
of UN involvement in 2002.
"The organization believes that the proposed resolution now before the UN General
Assembly's Third Committee regarding the establishment of criminal tribunal for the
prosecution of crimes committed during the KR period of 1975-1979 will not at all
achieve this aim," said AI.
The United Nations Special Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia, Peter Leuprecht,
told a news conference in Phnom Penh on Nov 19 that he hoped the draft resolution
would be passed by the General Assembly.
"I believe that the text that has been tabled in New York is a good text and
I hope it will be passed by the General Assembly," said Leuprecht. "First
of all I have no reason to believe that the government [of Cambodia] will reject
Sok An, Cambodia's chief negotiator with the UN on the tribunal issue, told the Post
by phone on November 20 when asked whether the government will support the resolution
- co-sponsored by the French and Japanese governments - that the government had been
working on a different draft resolution.
He said that the government would confirm its position when his team finished its
"We have many different experts [who are] very active working on a different
draft resolution and we cannot say anything right now," said Sok An.
However, on Nov 21 Sok An told reporters that he welcomed "compromises"
that were made to the resolution, and thanked the French and Japanese governments
for co-sponsoring the draft.
Assuming the draft passes the General Assembly, the Secretary-General will have 90
days to report to the Assembly on the outcome of negotiations with the Cambodian
"If by any chance this attempt at the UN failed, this might well be the end
of UN involvement in the process and this [would be] a lost opportunity to bring
the UN back," said Leuprecht.
The UN pulled out of talks with the Cambodian government on February 8. Many countries
were involved in lobbying the UN to get the stalled talks back on track.