Cambodia’s Rejection by United Nations is a Signal to Improve Human Rights

Conference Officers hold up empty ballot boxes for inspection by assigned supervising delegates, in advance of collecting member states’ ballots for the vote on the news members to the UN Security Council, October 18th, 2012. UN Photo.

In response to Cambodia’s unsuccessful bid for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) says that the country should take the rejection as a signal to improve human rights.

“UN Member States made the right decision not to bestow international legitimacy on Cambodia at a time when its human rights record is at the bottom of the heap in Asia. The Cambodian government should take this as a cue to take effective steps to halt, prevent and redress abuses, especially serious and systematic violations of land and housing rights, and end its zealous persecution of government critics,” remarked Shiwei Ye, FIDH’s regional representative to Southeast Asia.

Thursday’s vote by the United Nations General Assembly in New York was to determine which country would replace India to represent the Group of Asia and the Pacific Small Island Developing States. The 193-member Assembly elected Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg, the Republic of Korea and Rwanda to serve as non-permanent members on the Security Council for two-year terms beginning January 1st 2013.

The five countries obtained the required two-thirds majority of those Member States present and voting in the secret ballot, held at UN Headquarters in New York, to decide on the new composition of the Council, which deals with global peace and security issues.

The newly-elected Security Council members will replace Colombia, Germany, India, Portugal and South Africa, whose terms end on December 31st 2012.

The five permanent Council members, which each wield veto power, are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Non-permanent members Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Morocco, Pakistan and Togo will remain on the Council until the end of 2013.

In  a report released last month, FIDH warns of a mounting human rights crisis in Cambodia. The organizations says that the human rights situation there continues to deteriorate and impunity remains entrenched. In particular, violations of land and housing rights are serious and systematic, while intimidation and criminalization of human rights defenders defending these and other rights is on the rise.

In July 2012, Surya Subedi, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Cambodia warned that “Land disputes and forced evictions continue unabated in Cambodia, and feature the use of force by the authorities and business enterprises.”

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