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Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia

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Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia

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Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia


Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn was appointed as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia in March 2021. Professor Vitit is a Thai law Professor with longstanding experience working pro bono for the UN on human rights. He has helped the UN in a variety of positions, including as former UN Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Democratic People Republic of Korea, former UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, former Chairperson of the UN appointed Commission of Inquiry on the Ivory Coast, and former member of the UN appointed Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic.

Professor Vitit is a Professor Emeritus at the Faculty of Law, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. He is a graduate of Oxford University (M.A.,B.C.L. (Oxon.)) and Universite Libre de Bruxelles (Licence Speciale en Droit Europeen (Brux.)). He is also a Barrister at Law (the Middle Temple, London). For several years, Professor Vitit Co-Chaired the Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism. He has published widely on International Law, Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law, and Law and Development. He is the recipient of a number of awards, including the 2004 UNESCO Human Rights Education Prize. He was bestowed a Knighthood (KBE) in 2018.

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 42/37, decided "to extend by two years the mandate of the Special Rapporteur 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 forty-fifth and forty-eight sessions 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.

In the discharge of his mandate, the Special Rapporteur will examine the implications of COVID-19 from a human rights perspective; democratic space and civil and political rights; economic, social and cultural rights; checks and balances including through the establishment of an independent national human rights institution and space to vulnerabilities, underlining the rights of key groups; land, environmental and resources allocation/conservation; civil society; accountability and redress; effective implementation of human rights in qualitative terms; and engagement with both governmental and non-governmental sectors, together with the international community, to support well the integration of human rights in the national and local settings.

Contact information

Information relevant for the mandate holder can be sent to the following email address: [email protected]

Former Special Rapporteurs/Special Representatives of the Secretary General

  • Ms. Rhona SMITH
    (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), 2015-2021
  • Mr. Surya Prasad SUBEDI
    (Nepal), 2009-2015
  • Mr. Yash GHAI
    (Kenya) 2005-2008
  • Mr. Peter LEUPRECHT
    (Austria) 2000-2005
  • Mr. Thomas HAMMARBERG
    (Sweden) 1996-2000
  • Mr. Michael KIRBY
    (Australia) 1993-1996