Cambodia ratified the Convenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1992, but this week was the first time the country had to appear before the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights for review.
Seventeen years later, Ambassador Sun Suon faced that committee in Geneva Monday and Tuesday, but there were no representatives or experts from Phnom Penh that could answer many of the Committee's questions. This made constructive dialogue difficult and many questions left unanswered. Committee members expressed concern that this reflected the lack of importance the State Party places on its obligations to protect, respect and fulfill economic, social and cultural rights.
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights requires states to report on their progress within one year of the covenant coming into force.
Committee members also questioned the lack of statistics and data supplied by the State Party. Instead, the state report focused on policies it has just implemented or plans to implement. One Committee member compared this to a story of a person who falls ill, goes to the doctor and get receives treatment...end of story. The Committee member said that the real ending should include whether the patient recovered or died. The whole point of the story is to see if the treatment worked. The Committee member said that by submitting public policy plans without basic socioeconomic data, one does not know if these policies have served their purpose.
Various Committee members used CESR's fact sheet on Cambodia to question the State Party. Questions included issues related to the right to adequate housing and the rising inequality that accompanies the steady GDP per capita growth.
See CESR's Web page on Cambodia for more information, and check back in a few weeks for the Committee's Concluding Observations on Cambodia, which will be posted on the CESR Web site.