Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia votes against UN Rohingya resolution

Cambodia votes against UN Rohingya resolution

Rohingya refugees walk with relief materials last week at the Thankhali refugee camp in Bangladesh’s Ukhia district.
Rohingya refugees walk with relief materials last week at the Thankhali refugee camp in Bangladesh’s Ukhia district. Munir Uz Zaman/AFP

Cambodia votes against UN Rohingya resolution

Cambodia was among just 10 countries to vote against a “contentious” United Nations draft resolution on the persecution of Rohingya in Myanmar on Thursday.

In all, 135 countries voted in favour of the draft resolution, while only Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Philippines, Belarus, Myanmar, China, Russia, Syria and Zimbabwe voted against it.

The draft calls on the Myanmar government to protect the rights of Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic group. More than half a million have poured over the border into Bangladesh since August 25, fleeing what they describe as coordinated assaults on Rohingya villages.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has gone back and forth on the Myanmar refugee crisis.

He has addressed the issue publicly several times, seemingly taking varying sides on the issue. In February, he said Cambodia disagreed with attempts to “internationalise” the conflict, and considered it to be an internal matter of Myanmar, citing the Association of Southeast Nations principle of “noninterference”.

In a speech in October, however, he acknowledged a real problem in Myanmar and described the situation as a “humanitarian crisis of refugees”.

While speaking to garment workers on Thursday, Hun Sen said he had advised Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn to vote against the resolution on behalf of the Kingdom.

“For us, the principle of no interference is a very big thing,” he said. “Therefore, Cambodia decided to vote against the decision of interference in Myanmar’s sovereignty.”

However, he added Cambodia would cooperate in providing humanitarian support without intervening in the internal matter.

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division, said the way Cambodia voted wasn’t surprising.

“We fully expected this ‘no’ vote because as a steadfast believer of the ASEAN non-interference rule and a serial human rights violator, Cambodia expects to get the same sympathetic protection from other Southeast Asian governments if it ever faces a hostile resolution in the UN General Assembly in the future,” he wrote in an email. “And the way things are going now, such a resolution against Cambodia is hardly out of the question.”

An independent legal and human rights expert Billy Chia-Lung Tai said the vote was in line with expectations.

“There is an informal ‘ASEAN alliance’ on human rights issues where the member states avoid criticising each other on their human rights issues,” he wrote in an email.


  • Kak Channthy, Cambodian Space Project frontwoman, killed in crash at 38 [Updated]

    Updated 5:05pm, Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Kak Channthy, frontwoman of popular The Cambodian Space Project, was killed Tuesday morning in a traffic accident in Phnom Penh. She was 38. Channthy, the internationally recognised singer-songwriter also known as “Srey Thy”, was reportedly travelling in a tuk-tuk on the city's

  • Australians protest Asean summit visit by PM Hun Sen

    Hundreds of protesters gathered in Sydney’s Hyde Park on Friday to protest against Cambodian strongman Hun Sen, who claimed to have been gifted millions of dollars by the Australian government ahead of a special Asean summit this weekend. An estimated 300 protesters, the majority of

  • One Australian, one Cambodian killed in explosion at military base

    Updated: 5:20pm, Friday 16 March 2018 An Australian tourist and a Cambodian soldier were killed in an explosion on Thursday afternoon at an army base in Cambodia’s Kampong Speu province. The Australian, whom the government initially identified as a technical demining expert in his 40s, and

  • Peeling back layers of prehistory in Battambang

    When the man passed away, he had not yet reached 50. He belonged to a tribe that had settled near the Sangker River in Battambang province, likely cultivating the fields and raising animals. On the side, they hunted for boars, and even turtles, one of which