UN: KR Tribunal to Cost About $50 Million

The head of a UN delegation, here on a second mission to prepare for a trial of aging Khmer Rouge leaders, said Thursday that the tribunal’s expenses will be “on the higher side” of $50 million.

Karsten Herrel, who was accompanied by a UN budget officer and a facilities adviser, declined to give precise budget figures, saying some “cost elements are not totally known.”

But he said he expected UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to present a tribunal report, complete with budget figures, to the UN General Assembly within two weeks.

“We are trying to fill in the blanks…so that a coherent, realistic and credible funding proposal can be put forward both by the Cambodian government and by the United Nations side,” Herrel said.

He said that an agreement had been reached between the government and the UN on what Cambodia will pay for.

Annan’s tribunal report, which was originally expected in early February, will include an appeal for funding from foreign nations, UN officials said.

Helen Jarvis, adviser to Minister of Cabinet Sok An, said Thursday that some donor funding will go into a UN-administered trust fund and some will come as bilateral assistance to the government.

A source close to the past week’s negotiations between the UN delegation and the government task force said Thursday that a greater amount of discussion than anticipated was devoted to the UN-administered trust fund.

The source said that government representatives had wanted financial assistance to go directly to the government but that plan had met some donor resistance.

Unanticipated costs incurred in Sierra Leone’s tribunal, another judiciary jointly established by the UN and a wracked nation, greatly exceeded its initial budget and has caused a degree of donor skepticism for such exercises, the source said.

Also at Thursday’s news conference, Sean Visoth, executive secretary of the government task force to establish a tribunal, announced that the trial will be held in Chaktomuk theater and that all administrative offices will be housed at the National Cultural Center.

Much discussion, which involved the Royal School for Judges and Prosecutors and the UN Development Program, also has been devoted to training programs in national and international law, Sean Visoth said.

Administrative, financial and public relations training will also be required, he added.

Herrel declined to say how much personnel will be required to run the tribunal, but he did say that two-thirds of the staff will be Cambodian nationals.

Sean Visoth said he remains hopeful that the tribunal will get under way in 2004, but the agreement between the UN and the government is still waiting to be ratified by a new National Assembly.

The draft agreement was signed a year ago by UN Under­secretary-General Hans Corell and Sok An but was not ratified by parliament before last year’s session ended.

The eight-month political stand-off has prevented parliament from reconvening, but a Monday meeting between Prime Minister Hun Sen and Prince Norodom Ranariddh produced a tentative agreement to form a coalition government.

Herrel said that the UN side was “extremely encouraged by the very positive developments taking place right now on the internal Cambodian political scene.”

Both Herrel and Sean Visoth voiced optimism that ratification by the National Assembly is imminent and their work will be implemented shortly thereafter.

“The package will be ready by the time that the agreement will be ratified,” Herrel said.

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