The Cambodian Permanent Mission to the UN Office at Geneva highlighted the Kingdom’s progress in human rights in the 33 statements it delivered during the 49th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) which concluded on April 1.

In an April 4 press statement, the mission said that during the five weeks of interactions from February 28, the mission had highlighted the normative and practical achievements and progress of Cambodia in all categories of human rights – civil, political, social, economic and cultural, including the right to development.

The delegation told the HRC that during the Covid-19 pandemic, Cambodia had responded by making human rights the core of its response, especially the right to life, health and survival.

During the pandemic, the government began providing financial support thought its “Cash Transfer Programme”, which had currently reached its eighth round. The government had paid over $600 million to nearly 2.8 million individuals in 700,000 impoverished households. Along with cash support, free vaccinations had reached more than 90 per cent of the total population, well ahead of the target set by the World Health Organisation.

With regard to the right to food, the delegation said: “Cambodia remains committed to promoting sustainable food systems and achieving food security and nutrition for all, as manifested through the four main priority areas of the National 2030 Food Systems Vision”.

It said Cambodia had launched the Agricultural Sector Master Plan 2030 to enable farmers to attain inclusive and sustainable agricultural systems, especially in seed development, among other frameworks which helped farmers.

On the rights of the children, the permanent mission said, since 2006 Cambodia had put several mechanisms and policy instruments into place to protect children against violence and to contribute to eliminating violence against children globally by 2030.

“On peace and security, Cambodia is proud to be being ranked 13th among the 122 nations and 2nd in ASEAN in terms of deploying women on UN peacekeeping missions,” the permanent mission said.

The permanent mission had also highlighted many other aspects of human rights, such as cultural rights and the right to religion.

“Lauded for its interfaith tolerance and religious harmony – due to the government’s positive and inclusive approach to all religions and races – Cambodia remains resolute in maintaining national unity and harmony among all ethnicities as the groundwork for the realisation of its development,” it said.

The delegation also had their say on the Special Rapporteurs mechanism. It said Cambodia called for the establishment of an oversight mechanism to guarantee the effective implementation of their Code of Conduct.

“Independence cannot shy away from accountability,” the press statement said.”

Speaking on peacekeeping under the UN umbrella, Ro Vannak, co-founder of the Cambodian Institute for Democracy, said Cambodia showed its strong commitment to peace in joining these missions.

He said many Cambodian women had joined them and brought prestige to the Kingdom.

“They help raise Cambodia’s profile on the international stage – a small nation which has suffered through its own wars has become a place that sends peacekeeping and humanitarian forces to other countries. We should be proud of their heroism,” he said.