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UN to vote on KR tribunal

UN to vote on KR tribunal

The UN General Assembly is expected to approve the text of a deal between the government

and the UN to establish a tribunal for crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge period.

The Assembly was set to debate the agreement on April 24 in New York, after the Post

went to press.

Representatives of the UN and the Cambodian government initialed the text of the

agreement in Phnom Penh on March 17. UN under-secretary-general Hans Corell emphasized

after the signing that only the General Assembly could decide if the text was "agreeable".

Some human rights groups, particularly Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch,

have criticized the proposed trial model. Amnesty cited insufficient guarantees of

international fair standards and impartiality of the court.

But diplomats here have repeatedly argued the tribunal is the only realistic chance

of bringing senior KR leaders to justice. They were confident the text would be passed

and hoped the process would move to the next stage.

The General Assembly indicated its desire to see progress on the tribunal on December

18 when it passed a resolution to restart the stalled negotiations. One hundred and

fifty countries voted in favor, 30 abstained, and there were no votes against.

In his April 7 report to the Assembly, UN secretary-general Kofi Annan neither welcomed

the agreement nor urged the body to accept the text.

He did describe the text as a "considerable improvement" but wrote that

there remained doubt about the credibility of the Extraordinary Chambers. His report

also detailed the financial, logistical and personnel requirements of the Extraordinary

Chambers.

While it presented a range of options for financing the UN's assistance, the report

concluded that "assessed contributions" were the only mechanism that would

be viable and sustainable and would ensure the court's early establishment and prompt

start of operations.

The "assessed contributions" would be made up of trial specific donations

from UN member states.

Hans Corell was tight-lipped about the expected costs of the tribunal during his

visit to Phnom Penh, but diplomats and observers estimated it would cost between

$15 million and $50 million.

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