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UN Secretary-General Appeals for Expansion of Public Space in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH: The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, has stated that his main appeal to Cambodia regarding the country’s human rights situation is to further expand public and civic space. 

Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, 12 November, at the Sokha Hotel in Phnom Penh during the ASEAN Summit, the UN-Secretary General noted that the human rights situation in ASEAN is different from country to country.

“I would like to first of all underline that human rights are economic, social, cultural, political and civic; you need to see human rights in its broader perspective,” he said. 

He added that his main appeal to a country like Cambodia would be to have civic and public spaces be more open, to ensure the protection of human rights defenders and climate activists, and to extend cooperation with civil society.

The Secretary-General, however, stressed that ASEAN’s biggest preoccupation in relation to human rights is currently with Myanmar, “where the systematic violations of human rights are absolutely unacceptable and causing enormous suffering to the Myanmar people.”

He said that the UN intends to enhance its cooperation with ASEAN in relation to human rights, and is hopeful that this cooperation will lead to meaningful improvements. 

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