Useful Information


UN Human Rights Report 2019 UN Human Rights Report 2019
OHCHR Management Plan 2018-2021 OHCHR Management Plan 2018-2021
Brochure: Human Rights in action Human Rights in Action (PDF)
Working with the United Nations Human Rights Programme: A Handbook for Civil Society A Handbook for Civil Society (PDF)

OHCHR in Cambodia (2008-2009)

Human rights context

Although Cambodia has experienced strong economic growth in the last decade, serious problems related to government accountability and the independence of the judiciary remain. Cambodia is still plagued by misuse and abuse of laws, failure to respect or enforce laws, and impunity with no accountability or redress. There is little effective restraint on the exercise of executive power.

The space for civil society to protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms is shrinking, with continuing attacks and harassment directed against human rights defenders and community activists. Restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly, along with difficulties in accessing information held by public authorities, such as term records,make it difficult for Cambodians to voice their concerns and to participate knowledgeably and meaningfully in policy and decision making that directly affect their lives and livelihoods.

The pursuit of economic growth has led to the violation of the human rights of the poor and marginalized populations in rural and urban areas. There is significant concern that the current pattern of economic development in Cambodia could result in increased dispossession and victimization of vulnerable sectors of the population.

During 2008-2009, Cambodia will hold national elections through which the ruling party will attempt to gain full control over Parliament. At the time of writing, opposition parties appear fractured and factionalized. There are concerns that the violence and unrest that marred previous elections may reoccur.

In the last biennium, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for human rights in Cambodia conducted three missions, in March 2006 and May and December 2007. The Cambodia Office also hosted a visit by the High Commissioner in May 2006. Cambodia's initial report under the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women was considered in January 2006 and its next report is expected in November 2009. Cambodia will be considered under the Universal Periodic Review in 2009. 


During the 2006-2007 biennium, OHCHR worked with the Government of Cambodia to develop draft legislation consistent with its international human rights treaty obligations, and to secure ratification of outstanding treaties and follow-up to recommendations of relevant treaty bodies.

The Office also worked closely with UNICEF in the area of juvenile justice, particularly with the aim of reducing custodial sentences for persons under the age of 18, in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. A landmark ruling by the Constitutional Council in July 2007 reaffirmed that courts should take into account the age of the perpetrator in order to impose lesser sentences. This decision restored consistency to the application of the law and reinforced the constitutional protection of the rights of children in Cambodia. The Constitutional Council’s ruling was a response to a civil society petition that, in turn,was a product of capacitybuilding work led by the Cambodia Office.

The Office responded to numerous requests for assistance in relation to disputes about land and natural resource concessions. It worked with the Technical Working Group on Land, one of 19 sectoral governmentdonor coordination bodies, with civil society actors, and with the United Nations on human rights issues related to land and livelihoods.

OHCHR also intervened on individual cases involving restrictions on freedom of expression or association, illegal arrests and other serious breaches of criminal process guarantees, and forced evictions. It raised its concerns with national and provincial authorities, proposing appropriate responses, and encouraging the authorities to conduct credible investigations into reported allegations and to ensure effective remedy. The Office arranged for the translation into Khmer of core documents on human rights, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and human rights treaties, and disseminated them across the country. It has also made available a compilation of key domestic laws in print, CD-ROM format and via the Internet.



A sustainable solution to Cambodia’s complex and deeply rooted human rights problems will not be found through financial or technical assistance alone, but will require effective mechanisms of accountability and political commitment to genuine reform.

OHCHR will seek to improve dialogue and cooperation with the Government at the policy making and implementation levels, advocate for Government accountability to its citizens and respect for national laws and for its obligations under international human rights treaties. This work will include advice and assistance to the Government on the implementation of human rights treaties to which it is a party, particularly the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT).

The Office will continue to focus on developing and implementing laws and policies that comply with international human rights obligations and standards, particularly in relation to the administration of justice, the protection and promotion of fundamental freedoms, safeguarding the rights of indigenous communities, and equitable and transparent management of land and other natural resources.

OHCHR will also provide advice to the Government on the establishment of a national human rights institution that complies with the Paris Principles.

The Office will continue to work with the Government on the organization and administration of justice and access to effective remedy, including on individual cases and specific situations that require preventive or remedial action by the relevant authorities. As part of its rule-of-law programme, the Office will follow the work of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, established in June 2007 to try crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge period, with the aim of gathering good practices and models that may help support the independence and integrity of the Cambodian judiciary and contribute to efforts to combat impunity for human rights abuses, past and present.

OHCHR will continue to raise national and international awareness and understanding of the human rights situation in Cambodia through monitoring, analysis and reporting on trends, issues and cases.

As the only member of the UN Country Team with a protection and public reporting mandate, OHCHR will continue to promote joint efforts by the Country Team and donor agencies, including through technical working groups, to address common issues of concern, such as access to justice, transparency and accountability, and human rights-based approaches to development, including in the management of land and natural resources.

Through strengthened partnerships, capacity-building activities and direct protection interventions on behalf of civil society actors and human rights defenders, OHCHR will promote a supportive environment for citizens’ participation in public and political life, including action to uphold human rights.

With its partners in the UN Country Team and the wider donor community, the Office will promote greater integration of human rights into the work of the UN and other international actors in Cambodia, and greater respect for human rights and the rule of law in the development, implementation and enforcement of national laws and policies. The UNDAF for 2006-2010, to which the Office contributes substantively, is a strong, rightsbased document that identifies four focus areas: good governance and the promotion and protection of human rights; agriculture and rural poverty; capacity building and human resource development for the social sector; and support for the National Strategic Development Plan (2006-2010). While the Office’s programme contributes to all of these objectives, its emphasis is on protection, assistance and advisory work in the first two areas.

The Office will continue its efforts to promote and support increased government and civil society engagement and cooperation with UN treaty bodies, special procedures and the Human Rights Council. This will include providing advice and assistance to the Government to ensure progress on its reporting obligations under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), the ICESCR, and the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), and on its engagement with the Human Rights Council. The Office will also encourage civil society to participate in treaty reporting and Universal Periodic Review processes by submitting shadow reports or information to relevant Committees. The Office will continue to promote engagement with special procedures mandate-holders by the Government and civil society.

Contact Information


Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division (FOTCD)
Contact is in Geneva, Switzerland.

Asia Pacific Section
Tel. +41 22 928 9650


OHCHR Representative
Tel: (855) 23 987 671 or 672
Fax: (855) 23 212 579
Address: No.4, Street 271,
P.O.Box 108, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

External Links

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