The UN General Assembly is expected to approve the text of a deal between the government
and the UN to establish a tribunal for crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge period.
The Assembly was set to debate the agreement on April 24 in New York, after the Post
went to press.
Representatives of the UN and the Cambodian government initialed the text of the
agreement in Phnom Penh on March 17. UN under-secretary-general Hans Corell emphasized
after the signing that only the General Assembly could decide if the text was "agreeable".
Some human rights groups, particularly Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch,
have criticized the proposed trial model. Amnesty cited insufficient guarantees of
international fair standards and impartiality of the court.
But diplomats here have repeatedly argued the tribunal is the only realistic chance
of bringing senior KR leaders to justice. They were confident the text would be passed
and hoped the process would move to the next stage.
The General Assembly indicated its desire to see progress on the tribunal on December
18 when it passed a resolution to restart the stalled negotiations. One hundred and
fifty countries voted in favor, 30 abstained, and there were no votes against.
In his April 7 report to the Assembly, UN secretary-general Kofi Annan neither welcomed
the agreement nor urged the body to accept the text.
He did describe the text as a "considerable improvement" but wrote that
there remained doubt about the credibility of the Extraordinary Chambers. His report
also detailed the financial, logistical and personnel requirements of the Extraordinary
While it presented a range of options for financing the UN's assistance, the report
concluded that "assessed contributions" were the only mechanism that would
be viable and sustainable and would ensure the court's early establishment and prompt
start of operations.
The "assessed contributions" would be made up of trial specific donations
from UN member states.
Hans Corell was tight-lipped about the expected costs of the tribunal during his
visit to Phnom Penh, but diplomats and observers estimated it would cost between
$15 million and $50 million.