Rules-based int'l co-op a key in times of peril: PM

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Prime Minister Hun Sen. SPM

Prime Minister Hun Sen said there are pressing reasons to strengthen multilateralism and rules-based international cooperation as interference by foreign powers and use of military force only bring on even worse tragedies rather than offering any solutions.

Hun Sen made the remarks during the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) held virtually on September 25.

He said the world still has to tackle a myriad of pressing challenges such as geo-political competition and rivalry between major powers, technological and trade wars, territorial armed conflicts, terrorism, transnational crimes and climate change.

“History has told us time and again that [foreign] interference and – even worse – military options used to impose different systems of governance are not solutions. Far from it, they have only led to many more deaths, human suffering and misery, and socio-economic strife.

“Cambodia is a real life example and has experienced the worst tragedy and we are now sadly witnessing a repetition of the same policies. If the recent events in Afghanistan, and many more before that, are lessons to be learned from, then we must learn that there is great merit to respecting the wishes of each nation and their people’s rights to self-determination,” he said.

He said that all countries, whether large or small, differ in their histories, cultures, traditions, ways of life and manner of political organisation and that they should not be hindered by the imposition of unilateral sanctions, embargoes or other coercive economic measures that violate international law and the very principles enshrined in the UN Charter.

Hun Sen said the strengthening of multilateralism and rules-based international cooperation and international peace and security are of utmost importance for a sustainable future.

He said Cambodia’s position is that the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security rests with the UN.

Citing an example, he said that since 2006 Cambodia has contributed more than 7,500 armed forces personnel to serve in various UN peacekeeping missions across the globe, and a number of Cambodian troops have even made the ultimate sacrifice of losing their lives during their missions to protect the innocent, he said.

Moreover, Cambodia supports the UN Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative and the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda which will help integrate a meaningful gender perspective into various peacekeeping operations.

He emphasised that the changing realities of the 21st century demand a newly revamped and responsive UN. The organisation requires a more democratic, inclusive, and representative approach to the problems of the day.

“Cambodia fully supports the UN Secretary-General’s proactive efforts to make the organisation nimbler and more responsive to the needs of its member states. The relationship between the Security Council, the General Assembly, and the UN Secretariat must also be reinvigorated,” he said.

Hun Sen reaffirmed Cambodia’s support for Security Council reforms with the view that the foremost priority should be given to increasing the representation on the council of developing countries which comprise the vast majority of member states.

Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, said Hun Sen’s statements reflected recent events where some powerful countries were punishing smaller nations to advance their political agendas.

“In the past, we’ve been on the receiving end of injustices related to sanctions and under pressure from some powerful countries that always want to see Cambodia in a negative light because they have conflicts or are in geopolitical competition with other powerful nations,” he said, referring to the US and its allies like the EU and their often tense relations with China.