Opinion

UN Did Not ‘Warn’ Government During Rights Review Meeting

By James Heenan

I refer to this weekend’s article “UN Official Tells Govern­ment Not to Be Defensive on Rights Record.” The article reports on a meeting convened jointly between the Cambodian Human Rights Com­mittee and the local U.N. Hu­­­man Rights Of­fice (OHCHR) on Friday, which addressed the preparation for Cambodia’s next human rights review by the U.N. Human Right Council 2014.

As a technical discussion, it fo­cused on how the government might best prepare for the re­view, so that its report is as strong as possible. The meeting was but the latest event in ongoing technical as­sistance on the U.N.’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) that OHCHR and other donors are providing at the Royal Government’s request.

The article inaccurately suggests I “warned” the government not to be defensive in its UPR reporting. The U.N. and OHCHR do not “warn” member states, nor do they “tell” member states what to do in relation to a UPR review. The rules of the UPR are set by the U.N. Human Rights Council, and these formed the basis for Friday’s discussion. The meeting also heard constructive suggestions based on best-practice, including the experience of other member states having been through the UPR.

James Heenan is the representative a.i. at the OHCHR Cambodia Office

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