Indian ambassador Dinesh Patnaik has pledged his country’s support toward Cambodia’s bid for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council, telling the Post yesterday that human rights issues that have plagued the Kingdom this year should not factor into the decision.
“(The UNSC) is a very important function of the UN …political issues of a country do not affect that. If we look at domestic issues, no country in the world could become a member. China is a permanent member – if China can be a member, any country can be.
“We still haven’t made a decision [regarding our vote], but it has been discussed and we have assured Cambodia we would support them to a maximum,” he said.
Cambodia is seeking votes in an election to be held later this year for one of 10 non-permanent spots on the UNSC for 2013-14, but it has drawn criticism from opposition parties and human rights groups, who claim the country’s checkered track record should factor into the decision.
Sam Rainsy Party spokesman and lawmaker Yim Sovann said the Cambodian government had to “respect human rights” before it was allowed a seat.
“[A UNSC seat] is a very high position, and before they get to that place, they must respect human rights. They are currently not suitable.
“The Cambodian human rights situation is worsening and the government must look into their own elections to be free and fair first,” he said.
The newly appointed ambassador, who presented his credentials to the king on July 16, met with Foreign Minister Hor Namhong yesterday morning in a closed-door meeting.
A number of issues were discussed, Patnaik said, but the focus remained bolstering transportation links between the two nations.
Along those lines, the ambassador committed to setting up a direct flight link between India and Phnom Penh, and announced Cambodia and Laos would join India, Myanmar and Thailand in a national highway route – the “Mekong-India Corridor link”, looping around the region.
Construction, he said, would begin in about five years.
“Most of this is hinged on the basis [that] Myanmar is going in the direction it currently is though. The whole purpose is to link Myanmar with trading routes,” he said.
Koy Kuong, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, echoed the ambassador’s focus on trade issues, saying the diplomat had pledged to “do all his best to encourage Indian investors to do business here in rice mills, tourism and mining”.
According to Koy Kuong, the two-way trade volume between Cambodia and India last year was US$86 million, up from about $60 million in 2010.
He also maintained that Cambodia is an ideal candidate for the UNSC seat.
“We have been a member of the UN since 1955. We believe we can share our experience in how to end conflict, how to build peace and also how to manage the country after the conflict.”