Cambodia’s symbolic shunning of Human Rights Day

This year will be the last in which Human Rights Day will be marked in Cambodia after the government's decision to remove it from its list of public holidays. Chak Sopheap, Executive Director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, reflects on this symbolic gesture and what it means for rights in the Kingdom.

On 10 December the United Nations celebrates Human Rights Day, commemorating the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 – the first international document declaring that human rights are inalienable, applying to everyone by virtue of their humanity regardless of their race, colour, religion, sex, language, political opinion, national origin, property, birth or status. 

Every year on 10 December, Cambodia marks this occasion by granting a public holiday to its citizens. However, this year will be the last such time. Human Rights Day is on the list of those public holidays to be dropped next year – a fact that is somewhat reflective of the current attitude of the government to the human rights situation in Cambodia. As we celebrate this day, it is therefore a good time to be critical and to remind ourselves of the importance of the values that Universal Declaration on Human Rights embodies and their important place in Cambodian society and history. 

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