The Cambodian government has backtracked on threats to force the UN Human Rights agency out of the country, agreeing to renew its existing agreement for a further two years.
Prime Minister Hun Sen allowed the arrangement, which had been in place since 1993, to expire last December amid allegations that the OHCHR was attempting to meddle in the affairs of the country. He later threatened to close the agency’s Phnom Penh office if a new contract was not negotiated by December 30th this year.
In November, Foreign Minister Prak Sokhun accused the OHCHR country representative of breaching the principles of the UN Charter by “interfering” with the internal affairs of Cambodia. Wan-Hea Lee had expressed concern that opposition leader Sam Rainsy had been exiled from the country.
A government spokesperson also claimed that the UN was operating illegally in Cambodia, since a renewed memorandum of understanding (MoU) was not yet in place.
The renewed MoU was finally signed on Monday, safeguarding the OHCHR’s presence in Cambodia for the next two years. It is unclear whether this incorporated specific language, requested by the Cambodian government, to explicitly prohibit the OHCHR from interfering with domestic affairs.