Statement by UN Special Expert, Ambassador David Scheffer, on the National Budget Crisis of the ECCC


Ambassador David Scheffer
U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Expert on
United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials

September 4, 2013

The national budget crisis of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) has been generated by a failure on the part of the Royal Government of Cambodia to meet its legal obligation to fund the salaries of most national staff at the Court. Unfortunately, this situation now has led to yet another national staff strike that may disrupt further critical work on Case 002 and the fulfillment of the ECCC’s mandate, which the Cambodian people justifiably expect to see completed.

The United Nations has pressed the Royal Government of Cambodia repeatedly to step up to its legal obligation so as to avoid such crises. Top UN officials and I have had numerous discussions and meetings with Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and with officials of the major foreign donor governments in New York, in Phnom Penh, and in their capitols over the months.  There have been several important written communications from the Secretary-General and his Chef de Cabinet to governments.  There should be no doubt of the enormous amount of attention and work that this crisis has commanded at the United Nations and in key foreign capitols. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon publicly stated in The Hague on 28 August that, “The very survival of the Court is now in question….”
In August I was joined by a high Cambodian Government official to visit four ASEAN nations (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore) to seek funding commitments for the national budget in 2014.  I am hopeful of those prospects and remain focused on stabilizing the ECCC’s budgetary resources in the future. In this context, it must be noted that one cannot argue for more efficiency or speedier trial proceedings at the ECCC and at the same time starve it of the necessary funding. 
At the United Nations, we are fully committed to ending the current funding crisis as soon as possible and providing the stable environment that will enable national staff to continue the critical work of the ECCC and achieve accountability pursuant to its mandate.  The United Nations remains deeply concerned for the welfare of the national staff and their families and about any disruption that might result in the judicial process, which is at a critical stage now.  I appeal to the national staff to remain patient as we urgently continue with our efforts.

Date issued: 
Wednesday, September 4, 2013