Hun Sen Wants Special UN Office Closed

The UN office of the special representative to the Secretary General in Phnom Penh should close at the end of its mandate next Jan 31, according to a firm memo written by Prime Minister Hun Sen last week.

The office, headed by Lakhan Mehrotra, has run its course since it was formed in 1994, the memo read. It said the country for the first time in decades is enjoying peace and the government should “reconsider the relations between the UN and Cambodia.”

“The Cambodian permanent representative to the UN can take all responsibility for relations with the UN, without the UN special representative in Cambodia,” it continued.

Hun Sen is visiting the UN headquarters in New York in part to discuss the office’s future, along with that of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. In the memo, he recommended that the human rights office stay open for another two years.

During his trip, Hun Sen also met with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to discuss a tribunal of former Khmer Rouge leaders and today will speak to the UN General Assembly.

Although Lakhan Mehrotra had not yet seen the memo, he said Sunday he would accept whatever decision the government and the UN make.

“We are here in service, and we have rendered that service. I’m sure the secretary general will examine it from every point of view,” said Lakhan Mehrotra, whose own contract expires at the end of this year.

A career diplomat and former academic close to Cambodian relations for at least two decades, Mehrotra previously served as the foreign secretary of India. He took the UN post in 1997.

The office was established by then-UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to monitor security and other developments after Untac helped secure a national election in May 1993.

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