With the threat of a strike on the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s Cambodian side looming ever larger, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday called for donors to come up with additional financing for a court “in crisis” or risk losing it entirely.
“Cambodian staff have not been paid since June,” he said in a speech, according to a transcript of the remarks. “The very survival of the Court is now in question.”
Open Society Justice Initiative tribunal monitor Heather Ryan said it was “noteworthy” that Ban had addressed the court’s struggle, but added that the tribunal still required “creative and practical solutions”.
“One possibility would be for the UN to contribute to the court from general funds rather than relying on voluntary funding from individual countries,” she said in an email.
Though the “solution has the disadvantage of letting the Government of Cambodia and the historic donors of the court off the hook”, she added, such a measure may be the only option left.
A two-week strike in March over unpaid wages was ended by a similar “bridging fund” from the UN, a measure that court spokesman Neth Pheaktra said might be “necessary” to avert the strike, which is scheduled for September 1.
Meanwhile, UN special expert to the tribunal David Scheffer, who recently completed a tour of four ASEAN capitals, said in an email that member states had received him "warmly”, but that the prospect of funding was still tentative.
“My best judgement is that these ASEAN governments are considering financial support for the ECCC but the timing of that support remains uncertain,” he said.