Who is the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia?
The Special Rapporteur is an independent expert appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council to follow and report on the human rights situation in Cambodia. She is not a United Nations staff member, does not receive a salary from the United Nations, and does not work for any government or interest group. Her task is to assess the human rights situation, report publicly about it, and work with the Government, civil society and others to foster international cooperation in this field. The Special Rapporteur undertakes regularly visits or missions to Cambodia and reports annually to the Human Rights Council. OHCHR provides her with logistical and technical assistance. The current Special Rapporteur is Ms. Rhona Smith (UK), who was appointed in March 2015.
The Mandate of the Special Rapporteur
The mandate of the Special Rapporteur derives from the Paris Peace Accords (article 17 of the Agreement on a comprehensive political settlement of the Cambodia conflict and article 3 of the Agreement concerning the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and inviolability, neutrality and national unity of Cambodia).
The Human Rights Council, in resolution 24/29, decided “to extend by one year the mandate of the special procedure on the situation of human rights in Cambodia through the appointment of a special rapporteur to carry out the former functions of the Special Representative to the Secretary-General, and request[ed] the Special Rapporteur to report on the implementation of his/her mandate to the Council at its twelfth session and to engage in a constructive manner with the Government of Cambodia for the further improvement of the situation of human rights in the country.”
The Special Rapporteur’s status as an independent expert makes her distinct from the OHCHR Country Office, which is controlled by the High Commissioner for Human Rights and is formally part of the United Nations Secretariat. Nevertheless, the two institutions share complementary mandates and work closely together. OHCHR provides secretariat services to the Special Rapporteur during her missions to Cambodia, as it does to all missions from the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council.
Special Representative of the Secretary-General
Before 2008, the Cambodia mandate was held by a Special Representative of the Secretary-General for human rights in Cambodia (SRSG). The mandate-holder was appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, although he still reported to the Human Rights Council. Formerly he also reported to the General Assembly and the Commission on Human Rights. The name was changed in 2008 in line with the standardization of special procedures names.