1 May 2003


Press Release

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

Third Committee

61st Meeting (AM)


Agreement on Establishing Extraordinary Chambers Is Annexed

A draft resolution on the Khmer Rouge trials was introduced this morning, as the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met to continue its consideration of human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.  Annexed to the text is a 32-article draft agreement between the United Nations and the Royal Government of Cambodia regarding prosecution under Cambodian law of crimes committed during the period of Democratic Kampuchea.

Introduced by the representative of Japan, the text (document A/C.3/57/L.90) would have the General Assembly approve the draft agreement and urge the Secretary-General and the Cambodian Government to take all measures to allow it to enter into force and be implemented fully.  The Assembly would decide that the expenses of the Extraordinary Chambers to be established and operated in the national courts of Cambodia should be borne by voluntary contributions from the international community, and would appeal for international assistance, including financial and personnel support.

Senior leaders and those most responsible for crimes and serious violations of Cambodian and international law, committed between 17 April 1975 and 6 January 1979, would be prosecuted.

A statement by the Secretary-General on the programme budget implications of the draft (document A/C.3/57/L.91) concerns the financing of the Extraordinary Chambers, estimated to exceed $19 million.  According to the statement, should the Assembly decide that United Nations assistance to the Extraordinary Chambers would be financed from voluntary contributions, then the process of setting up the Chambers could be initiated only when sufficient contributions were in place to fund, for a sustained period of time, the necessary personnel, the operations of the Chambers and related Headquarters backstopping.  The $19 million required to establish and operate the Chambers, the Prosecutors’ Office, co-investigating judges, the Pre-Trial Chamber and the Office of Administration, did not include the remuneration of defence counsel and various other costs, including travel of witnesses from within Cambodia and abroad.

The statement also draws attention to the related report of the Secretary-General (document A/57/769), which recommended that, should the Assembly approve the draft agreement, it should also decide to deem the international judges,

co-prosecutor and co-investigating judge to be United Nations officials for the purposes of their terms and conditions of service.

Introducing the report on Khmer Rouge trials, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel Hans Corell said that it summarized the Secretary-General’s understanding of the negotiations.  A number of changes had been made between the present version of the draft agreement and a former one, first to clarify certain legal matters and, secondly, to make it possible to get the Chambers up and running as quickly as possible.  While the document was not entirely satisfactory, a number of significant improvements had brought the structure of the Extraordinary Chambers into conformance with international law.

Speaking after the draft was introduced, the representative of Cambodia said that a credible trial along international standards of the crimes concerned would represent an opportunity not only to address the crimes committed in the past but also to strengthen the role of the national and international judiciary system in preventing such crimes in the future.  The survivors would be happy to know their suffering had been acknowledged and considered seriously by the world.

He said the agreement would be implemented as law after the National Assembly ratified it, giving the draft the status of an international treaty.  Establishing the Extraordinary Chambers within the national court of Cambodia would not only be credible, but would represent a historic milestone in international humanitarian law.  It would also encourage a better understanding of internationally accepted standards.

The representatives of France and the United States also spoke. 

The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m, tomorrow, 2 May, to continue considering the matter and to take action on the draft resolution.

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.