The Khmer Rouge tribunal will not proceed until donations for the trial’s entire three-year operation are secured and at least one year of funding is in the bank, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a report circulated in Phnom Penh this week.
But donors are reluctant to contribute to the estimated $57 million cost until a final budget is presented, representatives of potential donor nations said Thursday.
With the government cooling its heels until a leaderless UN team reorganizes itself for a visit to finalize the budget, the tribunal’s development appears to have hit a plateau. “We are waiting for the UN,” said Sean Visoth, head of the government’s tribunal task force. “We have done our part of the job.”
The government has not reissued an invitation to the UN team since canceling a meeting planned for September, Sean Visoth said.
With no replacement named for former delegation leader Karsten Herrel, who left his post last month, the government is letting the UN take the initiative to reschedule the oft-postponed visit, Sean Visoth said.
Representatives of the UN task force in New York did not respond to e-mail queries by Thursday evening. Sean Visoth, however, agreed with Annan’s statement that the tribunal is effectively stalled until donors step up.
“I think everyone [knew] from the beginning that the Cambodian government alone cannot afford this tribunal,” he said.
The only money in the tribunal’s coffers is about $2.1 million from the government of Australia, Annan wrote in a report to the General Assembly dated Oct 12.
France and Japan, he wrote, “have informed me of their firm intention” to contribute $1 million and $3 million respectively.
Further contributions will be impossible without a formal budget, Japanese Ambassador Fumiaki Takahashi said Thursday.
“The UN and also the Cambodian government have not come up with a final budget,” he said. Until that happens, he added, “we cannot commit.”
French Embassy representatives could not be reached for comment Thursday.
In addition to the lack of a formal budget, the upcoming Consultative Group meeting, at which donors discuss their pledges to Cambodia in the coming year, has distracted many international donors from the tribunal, said Helen Jarvis, an adviser to the tribunal task force.
“There’s a long way to go…. I think everybody has their eyes on the CG meeting,” she said.