F OREIGN Minister Ung Huot says the government "won't mind at all" if the UN
Center for Human Rights (UNCHR) remains open.
"This is not a softening.
We proposed phasing out the office. If the UN secretary-general decides to keep
it, there are no hard feelings," Huot told the Post on April 18.
Marrack Goulding, the UN's undersecretary general for political affairs, was
appointed this week special envoy to resolve the controversy. He is expected to
spend three days in early May meeting government officials, diplomats and human
Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali agreed to send
him after news broke of the co-prime ministers' March 15 request to close the
UNCHR when its March 1996 mandate runs out.
Since then, twelve local
non-governmental organisations and human rights groups have written to the UN
and the government urging the center be kept open. Several embassies have also
been advocating it's survival.
"We look forward to Goulding coming and
hope the government's desire to close the center will be reversed," an US
embassy official said.
No deadline for a final decision on the closure
has been announced.
"We believe the human rights situation is
satisfactory... We are not saying you should pack up and go home, but we feel
maybe it's OK now. But if the United Nations feels it is still not, that's their
prerogative," said Huot.
"Let's be clear on that. The government asked
the UN to look at the possibility of phasing out - not closing - the center. If
they feel it has to continue, we will welcome that decision. We were just
raising the issue."