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
  • Institution building
  • Compliance with international norms and procedures

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 eight 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)
  • Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRDP)
  • Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CED).
Cambodia has also signed the 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 (OP-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 Cambodian Constitutional Council issued a ruling clarifying that the human rights treaties ratified by Cambodia are part of domestic Cambodian law and should be applied by judges in the courts. For more information, click here.

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:
  • The judiciary
  • The Supreme Council of Magistracy
  • The 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 has been drafted by a working group of NGOs and the draft was shared with the Cambodia Human Rights Committee of the Council of Ministers. For more information on NHRIs, click here.
  • In 2007, Cambodia ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT), an international treaty aimed at preventing torture and ill-treatment. Under the terms of OPCAT, Cambodia is required to create an independent body, the National Preventive Mechanism (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 Government is working to implement OPCAT and in 2009 has created an inter-ministerial committee chaired by the Minister of Interior, to work towards establishing the NPM. The current "NPM committee" does not comply yet with the requirements for national preventive mechanisms under OPCAT.
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 and supporting an improved implementation of the Penal Procedure Code in the courts;
  • Monitoring and supporting the prevention of torture and other ill treatment;
  • Monitoring and supporting the prevention 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.

Also see (in English):
United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers
OHCHR Geneva - Rule of Law