A UN delegation ended negotiations on anticorruption mechanisms at the Khmer Rouge tribunal with an ultimatum for the Cambodian government, a UN representative said Wednesday.
After three days of meetings with Cabinet Minister Sok An, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Peter Taksoe-Jensen said that the world body would have no further discussions about corruption-reporting mechanisms at the court.
“We couldn’t agree finally. We are very close to an agreement, and I have left a proposal on the table of Mr Sok An and asked him to consider that. We will not continue our negotiations from now on,” Mr Taksoe-Jensen said.
He released a statement later in the evening outlining the UN’s position: “The United Nations continues to believe that for the ethics monitoring system to be credible the staff should have the freedom to approach the Ethics Monitor of their own choice and put forward complaints without fear of retaliation. Such freedom of choice is an imperative element of a trustworthy ethics-monitoring system.”
His statement went on to say that the UN’s proposal, “should also be acceptable to the Cambodian Government.”
However, Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said after the meeting that the government, “has not closed the door, and we still continue to negotiate.”
The impasse—over whether Cambodian nationals can report to the UN ethics monitors at the Khmer Rouge tribunal—was, “just a small thing about a couple of technical words.” Those words, he said, “involved strengthening of a mechanism for monitoring.”
Wednesday’s meeting was an unplanned, third day of negotiations between the two sides—the UN delegation was scheduled to fly out of Phnom Penh on Tuesday night.
When asked why a third day of discussion was necessary to resolve a disagreement about a handful of words, Phay Siphan said, “I reserve my right to explain to you later on.”