Rule of Law Programme

The Rule of Law Programme works to strengthen the protection of human rights under the rule of law in Cambodia. It consists of three inter-linked components:

Treaty ratification and legal framework
- this component seeks to strengthen the legal framework under which human rights are protected in Cambodia. We promote ratification and effective implementation of the international human rights treaties. To date, Cambodia is party to six of the human rights treaties:
  • International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
  • International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD)
  • Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
  • Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT)
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

Cambodia has also signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRDP) and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (CMW). Signing a treaty signifies a commitment by the Government to ratify the treaty in the near future.

Cambodia has also ratified a number of optional protocols to these treaties which impose additional obligations on the Government: the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT); the Optional Protocol to CEDAW; and the two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child dealing with child soldiers and with child exploitation (CRC-OPAC and CRC-OPSC).

Each of these treaties are guaranteed under article 31 of the Cambodian Constitution. In 2007, after a petition from child rights NGOs supported by OHCHR, the Constitutional Council issued a ruling clarifying that the human rights treaties are part of domestic Cambodian law and should be applied by judges in the courts. For more information, click here.
OHCHR staff prepare law books for distribution to the government, NGOs, and other partners
See Also:
For more information on Cambodia's treaty obligations, click here.

Institution Building - this component seeks to strengthen the existing state institutions mandated to protect and promote human rights in Cambodia and to advise on the creation of new institutions. Existing institutions include:
  • An independent judiciary
  • Supreme Council of Magistracy
  • Constitutional Council
OHCHR works as a member of the Technical Working Group on Legal and Judicial Reform with the Royal Government and other donors to strengthen these institutions in accordance with international standards within the framework of Cambodia's legal and judicial reform strategy.A number of new institutions are planned for Cambodia:
  • In 2006, the Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen committed the Government to becoming the fifth member of ASEAN to establish an independent human rights institution in accordance with the United Nations Paris Principles on national human rights institutions. A law is currently being drafted by a working group of NGOs. For more information on NHRIs, click here.
  • In 2007, Cambodia ratified OPCAT, an international treaty aimed at preventing torture and ill-treatment. Under the terms of OPCAT, Cambodia is required to create an independent body (NPM) to visit places of detention throughout Cambodia in order to prevent torture and other abuse. This national body must work with the international Sub-Committee on Prevention of Torture. The Ministry of Interior is working to implement OPCAT and has created an inter-ministerial committee to work towards establishing the NPM.
OHCHR Cambodia is advising both of these processes.

Compliance with international norms and procedures - this final component seeks to ensure that officials working within the institutions charged with the protection of human rights carry out their responsibilities in accordance with the legal framework of international standards.

Current areas of focus include:
  • Monitoring implementation of the Penal Procedure Code in the courts;
  • Monitoring of torture and other ill treatment;
  • Monitoring of excessive detention.
The Rule of Law Programme works closely with the Prison Reform Support Programme to identify root causes and matters of concern which are then taken to the relevant authorities in order to seek solutions within a spirit of constructive dialogue.

The Rule of Law Programme is also working to use good practices developed by the ECCC to promote improvements in the administration of justice. For more information about OHCHR Cambodia's ECCC legacy program, click here

The overarching long-term objective is to ensure that everyone in Cambodia has access to an effective remedy when their human rights have been violated.