Thai scholar starts as UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Cambodia

A Thai scholar Prof. Vitit Muntarbhorn is set to take up his role as the new UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia on 1 April 2021. Government officials, human rights experts and analysts have expressed optimism that the first UN’s human rights envoy to Cambodia from an ASEAN nation will play an important role to promote human rights in the Kingdom.

The United Nations Human Rights Council officially appointed Vitit as UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia last week, replacing the British Rhona Smith who completed her two, three-year term mandates.

Cambodian Government spokesman Phay Siphan said yesterday the government welcomes a new UN Special Rapporteur to promote human rights in Cambodia, rather than one who points at or blames the government.

“But we do not want to see him play the role as a court or a policeman. We also do not want to see him as a jeerer,”

Siphan added that Cambodia pays close attention to human rights issues, saying Special Rapporteurs are “partners” with the government.

“Cambodia wants to tell the world that we care deeply about respect for human rights. Cambodia has the right not to accept the UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights, [but the government won’t do that], we want them to help to strengthen the human rights,”

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