The Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC) recently met with the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) in Geneva, Switzerland, regarding the Kingdom’s National Report on the Implementation of the International Covenant on Human Rights on Socio-Economic and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

CHRC vice-president Chin Malin led the Cambodian delegation to defend the report, which is produced every five years and presented to the CESCR as part of the UN’s mechanism to monitor and improve the human rights situation in all member countries.

According to the CHRC, the February 21-22 dialogue focused on sharing or exchanging best practices, experiences, shortcomings, concerns or challenges, and work directions for the future.

“The constructive dialogue provided a platform for Cambodia, a party to the ICESCR, to present its achievements, and explain and address allegations related to socio-economic and cultural rights. This meant it could describe the actual situation in the Kingdom, while also receiving recommendations from human rights experts,” it said.

The report was divided into four sections. The first dealt with environmental protection and natural resources, identification of indigenous communities, land registration of indigenous communities, anti-corruption measures, and measures or policies against discrimination, women’s rights and gender equality.

The second covered labour rights, including the minimum wage, procedures for resolving labour disputes, labour inspections, union rights and the National Social Security Fund (NSSF).

The third detailed the fight against human trafficking, food security, public order and housing, forced evictions and displacement, water supply, and the Kingdom’s mental health legal framework.

The fourth involved cultural and educational rights.

The Cambodian delegation explained each section in detail, and highlighted the government’s positive efforts in each sphere. This included institutional and legal frameworks, and the drafting of legal documents and strategies.

“In addition, the delegation presented the progress the government has made in the promotion and protection of human rights, especially within the contexts of Covid-19 and maintaining peace, which is the foundation of human rights and development,” said the CHRC in its February 22 press release.

“The members of the Committee applauded Cambodia’s efforts in the field of human rights and made several recommendations that would improve the sector in Cambodia even further,” it added.

Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group LICADHO, noted that the dialogues are non-binding, so the recommendations by the CESCR are “only encouraging improvement, rather than demanding it”.