Foreign Affairs Minister Cites Need for Aid at UN Assembly

Speaking before the UN General Assembly in New York, Cambo­dian Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Nam­hong said the global economic crisis has “undermined” pro­gress made by developing nations toward UN Millennium De­ve­lop­ment Goals.

Without the resources of more de­veloped nations, he said during the assembly’s general de­bate, poorer countries would bear the brunt of the financial fallout. He suggested restarting the stalled global trade talks to improve trade and economic access as a means to mitigate the crisis. The minister’s speech also touched on food and energy security as well as large-scale threats to global security such as climate change.

“Everyone is concerned with the considerable challenges that our world today is confronted with, such as the current global economic and financial crisis, climate change, food and energy insecurity and the threats of terrorism and [weapons of mass destruction] proliferation,” he said, according to a copy of his speech. “I hope that the deliberations of this august Assembly will come up with new ideas to cope with those global challenges.”

Mr Namhong, however, did not touch upon the issues of land disputes and forced evictions or freedom of expression, which several UN officials have cited in recent months as particular areas of concern in Cambodia.

Kek Pung, president of local rights group Licadho, said it was un­fortunate that Mr Namhong did not link the issues of climate change and food security to land rights. For example, she said, when a farmer loses his land to developers, the loss can threaten his access to food.

“These are also problem but we want to hear about human rights,” she said yesterday, adding that Mr Namhong’s platform before the UN General Assembly would have been a good opportunity to ask for help from other nations. “We cannot just ignore the problem.”

Koy Kuong, undersecretary of state and spokesman for the Cam­bodia Foreign Affairs Ministry, and government spokesman and In­for­mation Minister Khieu Kan­harith could not be reached for comment.

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