Your Excellency Dr Sok An, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia;
It is a pleasure to be here today and to have this opportunity to meet with you. On behalf of the United Nations Secretary-General, His Excellency Mr Ban Ki-moon, I want to express my appreciation to the Royal Government of Cambodia, and
particularly to His Excellency the Deputy Prime Minister, for hosting this meeting.
Also on behalf of the Secretary-General, I want to thank you all for attending today and showing your support for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia
As His Excellency the Deputy Prime Minister has said, the ECCC has achieved an impressive number of successes. The trial and verdict in Case 001 showed the world that this court is capable of delivering justice for the horrible crimes committed during
the Khmer Rouge period.
And, as His Excellency the Deputy Prime Minister has observed, the court has also showed that it can have a meaningful impact on the process of national reconciliation in Cambodia, and in facilitating this country coming to terms with its past.
The ECCC, alone among all of the war crimes tribunals around the world, can show that it has opened up an examination of such a dark period of history, and an open dialogue about it, in the schools of the affected country, and, even more importantly,
in people’s homes.
A whole generation of people who suffered through the Khmer Rouge period kept their experiences during this tragic time a secret from their children and grandchildren. The proceedings at the ECCC, and the attention that has been focussed
upon them, has opened the door for these survivors to talk openly of what they went through.
This has lifted a dark cloud from over their heads, and it has also ensured that the younger generations will learn from this history, and will do everything they can to avoid Cambodia ever returning to an atmosphere of turmoil and violence.
As His Excellency the Deputy Prime Minister has said, this is in Cambodia’s national interest, and in the interests of all of you from neighbouring countries who work towards a peaceful and stable Asia.
The ECCC’s accomplishments in this regard are unique. Another way in which this court is unique is the fact that it is the only war crimes tribunal in Asia.
As an Asian Secretary-General, His Excellency Mr Ban Ki-moon feels very strongly that this court should be a success. He has encouraged more engagement from Asian governments in the ECCC to make this court truly successful, and to show a greater
degree of Asian ownership over efforts to bring long-term stability to the continent.
Japan has been extremely supportive of the ECCC and has, in fact, provided funding for almost 50% of the court’s budget. At this time, however, we all recognise the terrible burden that Japan will face as it recovers from the tragic earthquake and tsunami. This will make it difficult for Japan to maintain its previous levels of support to the ECCC.
We are hopeful that as Japan deals with its pressing domestic needs, other Asian countries will help meet the needs of the court and will, thereby, also satisfy the Secretary-General’s request for broader Asian support of the amazing work being done by this institution.
As I have met with officials in some of your capitals in my role as the Special Expert of the Secretary-General on the ECCC, I have been told that it is unclear that the Royal Government of Cambodia desires such assistance.
This seems to have led to some degree of reluctance by your governments – in light of understandable sensibilities about non-interference in others’ internal affairs – to do more in terms of assisting the court. I have tried, to the extent that I can, to dispel your governments’ concerns in this regard, but I recognise that it is much more persuasive for you to hear from the Royal Government of Cambodia itself.
Accordingly, I am pleased that His Excellency Dr Sok An has used this occasion to convey to your Excellencies the request of the Royal Government of Cambodia for financial support from your countries to the ECCC, as well as his statement to you that such support would be viewed as welcome assistance to an initiative in Cambodia’s national, regional and international interests.
On behalf of the Secretary-General, I sincerely hope that your Excellencies will convey this request back to your capitals, and that you will encourage your governments to respond in a favourable fashion.
As I have said, and as His Excellency the Deputy Prime Minister has said, the ECCC is truly a unique institution that has achieved great successes. It has had an incredibly positive impact here in Cambodia.
As the court undertakes one of the most significant war crimes trials ever in the history of the world, we all have a responsibility to ensure that the court can successfully complete its work. It is in the interest of Cambodia that this happen, it is in the interest of Asia, and it is in the interest of the entire international community.