2 May 2003


Press Release

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

Third Committee

62nd Meeting (PM)


Extraordinary Chambers Would Be Established

and Operated Within Cambodian National Courts

A draft resolution on the Khmer Rouge trials was approved by consensus this afternoon 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 Kampuchia.

The draft (document A/C.3/57/L.90) would have the Assembly approve the draft agreement, and would urge the Secretary-General and the Cambodian Government to take all measures to allow the agreement to enter into force and be fully implemented.  Extraordinary Chambers would be established and operated within the national courts of Cambodia, and the Assembly would decide that the expenses required for their operation should be borne by voluntary contributions from the international community.  The Assembly would also appeal for international assistance, including financial and personnel support for prosecuting those most responsible for crimes and serious violations of Cambodian and international law between 17 April 1975 and 6 January 1979.

A statement by the Secretary-General on programme budget implications (document A/C.3/57/L.91) estimates that financing of the Extraordinary Chambers is expected to exceed $19 million.  That would cover the establishment and operation of the Chambers, the Prosecutors’ Office and that of the co-investigating judges, the Pre-Trial Chamber and the Office of Administration.  It did not include certain other costs such as remuneration of defence counsel and travel of witnesses.  Further, if United Nations assistance to the Chambers were to be financed from voluntary contributions, the process of setting up the Chambers would begin when sufficient resources were in place to fund the necessary personnel and operations for a sustained period of time.

Upon introduction of the resolution yesterday, Japan’s representative had pointed out that no programme budget implications were involved since the resolution made it clear that the expenses of the Chambers would be borne by voluntary contributions.  He added that the representatives of France and the United States had associated themselves with his statement.

Finally, the statement draws attention to the Secretary-General’s report on Khmer Rouge trials (document A/57/769).  It had recommended that international judges, the co-prosecutor and the co-investigating judge be deemed United Nations officials for the purposes of their terms and conditions of service.

Speaking in explanation of position before the decision, the representative of the United States said he remained committed to the process of the trials and supported the resolution in substance while dissociating himself due to timing.  He would have liked to see the resolution introduced after the Cambodian elections in July.

The representative of the United Kingdom said his country had long supported the Khmer Rouge trials process, and he noted the Secretary-General’s concerns regarding issues such as financing and the status of internationally-appointed judges and prosecutors.  It was imperative that the Chambers carry out their duties in conformance with the highest international standards. 

Speaking in explanation of position after the decision, Japan’s representative drew attention to the adoption by consensus of the resolution.  He said the international community had a great stake in establishing the Chambers and urged that contributions be made.

Some representatives expressed concern about the provisions relating to the operation of the Extraordinary Chambers.  The Netherlands representative said his delegation would have preferred further negotiations between the United Nations and the Cambodian Government to ensure that international standards of justice were upheld.  The functioning of the Extraordinary Chambers would have to be monitored closely by the international community, he said.

Liechtenstein’s representative said it was regrettable the Chambers would not be composed of a majority of international judges.

Sweden spoke on behalf of the Nordic countries to call for contributions to the fund for operation of the Chambers and stressed the importance of continued reporting to the Assembly on implementation of the agreement.

Switzerland’s representative called for criteria to ensure transparent collaboration between the United Nations and Cambodia on the work of the Chambers.

The representatives of Ireland, Germany, Mexico, Cambodia and France also spoke.

The Committee will meet again at a time to be announced in the Journal.

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For information media. Not an official record.