Cambodia and the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Cambodia and the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination


Cambodia and the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

This page provides information relating to the forthcoming consideration by the Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination of Cambodia's record on implementing the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

What is the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination?
The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination(ICERD) was finalized in 1965 and entered into force internationally in 1969. It is a binding treaty which gives States detailed guidance on how to ensure that racial discrimination in all its forms is eliminated from the world.

All human rights should be enjoyed by all human beings equally without distinction. This is why all human rights treaties include the principle of equality and non-discrimination in their provisions – to ensure that the rights set out in each treaty can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of their race or ethnic origin, or indeed their sex, religion, political opinions or social or other status.

ICERD complements these human rights treaties by addressing particular issues related to racial discrimination which prevent people of certain races or ethnic groups from enjoying their rights on the same basis as others. It is specifically designed to combat discrimination as a phenomenon rather than create new rights. In this regard, it is similar to the CEDAW which combats discrimination against women.

What does the Convention mean for Cambodia?
Cambodia became a party to the Convention in 1983. The Royal Government is therefore committed to taking all measures set out in the Convention to ensure that nobody experiences discrimination in Cambodia on the basis of their race or ethnic orgin. The Convention is guaranteed in Cambodian law by article 31 of the Constitution.

The Convention defines racial discrimination as “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms...”.

In the Cambodian context, this means that the Government needs to ensure that all minority groups in Cambodia are able to enjoy human rights on the same basis as the Khmer majority. These minority groups include Cambodia’s indigenous peoples, the Khmer Krom minority originally from southern Viet Nam, the Vietnamese and Chinese communities in Cambodia, the Cham Muslim community, the African community in Phnom Penh, and any non-Cambodian national living or working in Cambodia.

What is the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination?
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) is the body of eighteen independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention by its states parties. The Committee was established in 1970 in accordance with article 8 of the Convention.

The Committee meets in Geneva and normally holds two sessions per year.

The Committee also publishes its interpretation of the provisions of the Convention, known as general comments.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) acts as the secretariat for the Committee and also provides technical assistance to States to engage with the reporting process.

For more information about the work of the Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination in English, click here.

What is treaty reporting?
All states parties are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee on how the Convention is being implemented. States must report initially within one year of accepting the Convention and thereafter every two years. The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of "concluding observations".

End of racial discrimination
End of racial discrimination


ICERD Reporting Timeline
The aim of this process is not to criticize the Government, but to provide constructive advice on ways in which the Government can make better progress towards ensuring that all Cambodians can enjoy the rights set out in the Convention.

The Committee does not rely solely on information provided in the Government's report to make its assessment. It is also open to submissions from national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as well as United Nations agencies, such as WHO and ILO.

For a summary of the reporting process, click here.

Cambodia's reporting under the Convention
Reporting to the Committee is an opportunity of the Government to present the steps it has taken to combat racial discrimination in Cambodia and to seek advice from the Committee's experts on areas where more progress is required.

Cambodia has reported twice previously to the Committee, in 1984 and 1998. It should have reported every two years, which means by 2008 it should have reported fourteen times in total. For this reason, the report submitted in 2009 is considered to be a combined seventh to fourteenth periodic report, covering the period from 1998 to 2009.

A delegation from the Government will be invited to attend the session in Geneva in order to discuss the report through what is called a "constructive dialogue". It is in the best interest of the Government to send an expert delegation in order to be able to answer detailed technical questions from the Committee members.

Can NGOs and other civil society representatives participate in the process?
The committee is open to submissions from international and national NGOs. This is usually done through submission of a parallel alternative report. There is also an opportunity for NGO representatives to attend the Committee session and to brief members in person informally.

For more information on NGO participation, click here.


Useful documents


Initial Report of Cambodia (E/C.12/KHM/1)
List of Issues and Questions (E/C.12/KHM/Q/1)
Reporting Guidelines for States Parties
Khmer | English
Reporting Manual (extract)
Information on NGO participation
General Comments (GC)- the Committee's interpretation of specific treaty provisions
Reporting by state parties
Khmer | English
International technical assistance (article 22)
Khmer | English
Nature of states parties' obligations (article 2.1)
Khmer | English
Right to adequate housing (article 11.1)
Khmer | English
Persons with disabilities
Khmer | English
Rights of older persons
Khmer | English
Forced evictions (article 11.1)
Khmer | English
Economic sanctions and ESC rights
Khmer | English
Domestic application of the Covenant
Khmer | English
Role of national human rights institutions
Plans of action for primary education (article 14)
Khmer | English
Right to food (article 11)
Khmer | English
Right to education (article 13)
Khmer | English
Right to health (article 12)
Right to water (articles 11 and 12)
Equal rights of men and women (article 3)
Intellectual property rights (article 15.1.c)
Right to work (article 6)
Right to social security (article 9)