The Sustainable Development Goals in Cambodia
The Sustainable Development Goals are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the earth’s environment and climate, and ensure that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity. These are the goals the UN is working on in Cambodia:
13 September 2022
WFP AND GOVERNMENT OF CAMBODIA TO LAUNCH BEHAVIOUR CHANGE CAMPAIGN TO IMPROVE NUTRITION AMONG SCHOOLCHILDREN
The nutrition-in-schools campaign was developed jointly by WFP and MoEYS at a workshop attended by UN agencies, civil society organizations, the Ministry of Health and the Provincial Offices of Education from Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Thom and Siem Reap. “Many factors contribute to poor nutrition, and behaviour is one of them. An effective campaign that educates children on the importance of a nutritious and balanced diet can be central to their long-term development and health,” said Claire Conan, WFP Representative and Country Director. “Building on our long-standing engagement in school meal programmes, we are now working with the School Health Department and partners to develop the campaign to encourage increased consumption of fruit, vegetables, and proteins.” In Cambodia, school children suffer from high levels of micronutrient deficiencies, rising overweight and obesity rates and a lingering burden of undernutrition. The rapid proliferation of highly processed foods in recent years has had significant impact on the quality of diet. At the same time, diet diversity remains relatively low. Rice, meat, and fish consumption are high, while fruit, vegetables and consumption of other animal-source protein, like milk or eggs, fall below international guidelines. “This is concerning because despite some progress in reducing the burden of wasting, stunting and underweight in Cambodia, undernutrition remains a persistent problem at the household level,” said H.E. Dr. Chhay Kimsotheavy, Director of MoEYS’ School Health Department. WFP, in collaboration with the Royal Government of Cambodia, has been providing nutritious school meals to primary and pre-primary school children since 1999, helping to improve nutrition outcomes as well as student attendance, concentration and learning. However, as school meals represent only a portion of children’s diets and do not tackle food consumption at home or unhealthy snacking behaviours, there is still an opportunity to use schools as a platform to influence children’s diets more broadly. This campaign will help advance the goals of the 2019 National Policy on School Health, the National Action Plan on School Health, and the Standard Guidelines for School Health Promotion, all of which include strategic priorities aimed at promoting improved dietary and health behaviours for school children and their caregivers. # # # The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.
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25 May 2022
The United Nations is not involved in assisting, organizing or observing the 2022 commune elections
The provision of UN electoral assistance can be on the basis of (i) a decision of the Security Council or General Assembly establishing a mandate for the UN to provide electoral assistance; and/or (ii) a formal written request for electoral assistance from an appropriate national authority. It is then followed by an electoral needs assessment by the Electoral Assistance Division of the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA). Approval of the Focal Point for Electoral Assistance Matters (Under-Secretary General of DPPA) is then needed before the UN System provides or makes project commitments on electoral assistance. Requests for electoral assistance must be made by the member state to the United Nations. Requests cannot be made by political parties, civil society or other organizations. Given the requirements above, there is currently no provision of UN electoral assistance in Cambodia. OHCHR monitors the human rights situation in Cambodia, and this will continue during the electoral period. The United Nations will also continue to follow closely the developments in the country.
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17 June 2022
Information Note #17: Civil Society Participation
The United Nations Secretary-General’s Call to Action for Human Rights includes public participation and civic space as one of seven thematic areas for action, stating that “society is stronger and more resilient when women and men can play a meaningful role in political, economic and social life, contributing to policy-making that affects their lives, including by accessing information, engaging in dialogue, expressing dissent and joining together to express their views.” Civic space is key for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It is the marginalized people who are at the greatest risk of being left behind. By ensuring the meaningful participation of civil society, countries can reduce inequality, ensure inclusion, and improve sustainability. In Cambodia, civil society actors cover a wide range of issues, including service delivery in the development and humanitarian fields, promoting good governance, conservation, peace-building, and human rights. They are found in every province of the country, in every sector, and staffed by individuals and volunteers from a wide range of backgrounds. Cambodia’s Constitution, promulgated in 1993, places an emphasis on the role of the individual in public life, enshrining in Article 35, the right “to participate actively in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the nation”. However, the constitutional promise that “suggestions from the people shall be given full consideration” by the authorities are still to be fully implemented. Since 2017, civic space and exercise of fundamental freedoms has been restricted as outlined in successive reports by the United Nations. United Nations Support Since the 1990s, the United Nations has worked hand-in-hand with civil society in Cambodia to promote and protect human rights. It has provided training and capacity building to civil society actors on international human rights standards, worked with civil society partners in investigating allegations of human rights violations and abuses, promoted their participation in public affairs, and supported their advocacy at national and international level. Today, the United Nations in Cambodia continues to empower civil society as human rights defender and accelerator for development, advocating for the expansion and protection of its operating space. The United Nation’s partnership with civil society has allowed it to play a critical role as defender of rights since its inception. The right to freedom of expression: Working closely with the Royal Government of Cambodia, journalists and civil society the United Nations is providing technical assistance, capacity-building and legal support, as well as strengthening networks to promote greater freedom of expression, access to information and media freedom as fundamental human rights and critical pillars of democracy. As part of the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists, a legal support desk has been set up with lawyers with expertise on freedom of expression, providing support and advice on Cambodia’s legislation to over 30 media professionals. Furthermore, following the Plan of Action, more than 300 representatives from the media, the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Information and Ministry of Justice have engaged in a series of dialogues convened by the United Nations to build better understanding of the role of the media in providing information to the public during the pandemic, and foster collaboration between the authorities and journalists to create an enabling environment for freedom of expression and access to information. The right to freedom of association: The United Nations continues to work closely with civil society organizations, including human rights groups, trade unions and others, to build their knowledge and capacities, understand the threats they are facing and to monitor developments with regard to their operating environment. The United Nations has worked closely with civil society to advocate against the shrinking of civic space, including by identifying problematic provisions of legislation that regulates NGOs, associations, and trade unions, and the work that they carry out. In February this year, the UN in Cambodia launched a project aimed at bolstering civic space. The right to freedom of peaceful assembly: The United Nations monitors the exercise of this right, including by monitoring demonstrations and engaging with authorities to ensure that this right is upheld. For many years, the UN has been present at demonstrations in Phnom Penh and elsewhere in the country, assisting authorities in ensuring that they facilitate rather than restrict or hamper the right to protest. This has included liaising with authorities in moments of high tension. The right to participation in public affairs: The United Nations develops the capacity of civil society organizations and creates the space for their participation in policy-making and localizing the SDGs for more informed, effective, sustainable and inclusive decisions, for example, children and youth, women, and indigenous peoples. Each advance in protecting civic space has a positive ripple effect for communities and individuals, and their rights. It is also critical for development, peace, and security more broadly. In the area of youth, the United Nations Youth Advisory Panel (UNYAP) in Cambodia was established in 2007 as an interactive platform for dialogue with young people led by young people, to understand their development priorities and perspectives and ensure the voices of Cambodian young people are heard within the UN system. In 2021, UNYAP with support from UN and partners, was able to successfully mobilize young people through the organization of major events such as International Youth Day, Youth Talk Programmes, Campaign on Promoting Decent Employability for Youth and a media mentoring programme to build capacity on civic engagement. In its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2019, the Royal Government voluntarily committed to “ensure a free civic space, allowing human rights defenders and journalists to freely express themselves both offline and online, without fear of harassment or reprisal, and refrain from prosecuting persons for exercising their fundamental rights”. In September 2021, the UN Secretary-General called on Cambodia to “strengthen civic and democratic space, [and] end harassment of political actors and human rights defenders”. The United Nations has worked with the relevant ministries and institutions, including the Cambodia Human Rights Committee, to implement the UPR recommendations and increase dialogue with the civil society. For instance, a consultation of the UPR Mid-term Report was co-organized on 23 March 2022. As Cambodia recently held the Commune Council elections and moves towards national elections in 2023, citizens and civil society organizations, including women’s organizations, need to be able to fully contribute and participate in policy making that affect their lives. The Secretary-General’s Call to Action for Human Rights reiterates that the active engagement of civil society actors is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Cambodia. Despite not having a mandate to get involved in assisting, organizing, or observing the 2022 commune elections, the United Nations closely monitored the human rights situation in during the electoral period. The United Nations stands ready to support the Royal Government of Cambodia in taking steps to improve civic space through legislative reform to strengthen compliance with Cambodia’s international human rights obligations, including the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations and the Law on Trade Unions. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development places human rights at the heart of efforts to promote and drive socioeconomic development with its key principle of leaving no-one behind and empowering people as active agents of sustainable development. The United Nations, as a development partner of Cambodia, will continue to highlight the interdependence of all human rights and to collaborate with the Government to improve civic space and to ensure that Cambodia’s development is shared, inclusive and harnesses the skills and contributions of the society as a whole and the country’s civil society. ### UN Cambodia’s Response to COVID-19 Information Notes are official documents from the United Nations in Cambodia intended for the media and other partners. They are consolidated by the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator on behalf of the UN Country Team.  See, for example, Report of the UN Secretary-General to the Human Rights Council, 16 September 2021.  https://cambodia.un.org/en/183273-united-nations-not-involved-assisting-organizing-or-observing-2022-commune-elections
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13 February 2023
Remarks: High-Level Conference: Good Governance and Public Trust - Strengthening the Efficiency and Transparency of Social Protection in Cambodia | Social Protection Week 2023
*Check against delivery* Your Excellency Dr. Aun Pornmoniroth, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance, Esteemed Government Delegates, Distinguished Colleagues of Development Partners and UN System, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen. I am delighted to join you this morning for the opening of the 2nd Social Protection Week. At the outset, and on behalf of the UN system, I am pleased to convey our sincere appreciation to the Royal Government of Cambodia for promoting the social protection system and the continued efforts towards expanding this protection for all people in Cambodia. I would like to congratulate the General Secretariat of the National Social Protection Council and other partners who have contributed to the organization of this important multi-day event. Since the launch of the National Social Protection Policy Framework in 2016, and particularly since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Royal Government has markedly expanded programmes, including social assistance and social security. This expansion is not only reaching people currently living in poverty, but also those who are at risk of falling back into poverty or facing other shocks. The Royal Government is implementing new social assistance programmes including cash transfer programmes for vulnerable households suffering from inflationary pressures, and for vulnerable households severely affected by floods. Furthermore, as the preparation of the Universal Health Coverage Roadmap is underway, the Royal Government is committed to advancing the universal health coverage through the phased expansion of social health protection through the Health Equity Fund and National Social Security Fund. This is expected to expand coverage to an additional half a million people. Since 2020, the Royal Government has gradually taken ownership of the national school meals programme and now manages nearly half of the schools benefiting from school meals. This programme, which contributes towards human capital development, is one of the only two social assistance schemes under the national social protection framework that targets children, a share of the population under-covered by social protection. The impressive pace and scale of the social protection expansion demonstrates the increasing capacity of the Royal Government as custodians of the duty to protect people’s lives and livelihoods and ensure that the fundamental rights to social protection can be enjoyed by all people in Cambodia. An important mental shift that we must complete in this regard is recognizing that social protection is not a cost for government, but rather, a key investment in a thriving and prosperous society. It is an investment in people that prevents a spiral into poverty and deprivation. It is an investment that protects the larger economy and leads to significant returns. A joint assessment between the United Nations and the Ministry of Economy and Finance concluded that the investment in social protection programmes saved the economy 0.8 percentage points and reduced poverty by 3.4 percentage points. The recent progress in Cambodia has undoubtedly provided protection for millions of people who would have otherwise been at risk. Such progress is underpinned by the adoption and effective implementation of legislation and policies. These aim at providing protection for all those that might be at risk and empowering the instruments of government to respond accordingly. For example, the adoption of the proposed ‘Child Protection Law’ can be the foundation upon which the Royal Government and partners can ensure that every child born in Cambodia is provided appropriate protection and can access all services, such as health and education. Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen Recent achievements have demonstrated what is possible when all stakeholders collaborate effectively. At the same time, our collective efforts to enhance the social protection framework still have some way to go to fulfill emerging opportunities. There remain areas in which the system can be both expanded and improved to ensure that the safety-net it provides can catch all those at risk to a variety of shocks. This forms an essential element in the national effort to ensure that truly no one living in Cambodia is left behind – which is fundamental for achieving the global goals, the SDGs, that we have all committed to. One of the current priorities is to bridge the gap between existing legal protections and their effective implementation. For instance, there exist several social protection schemes aimed at the protection of workers, such as employment injury and healthcare schemes. However, many workers and enterprises seem not to be enrolled yet in these schemes, despite being legally required to do so. And to genuinely close the coverage gap, there must be a concurrent focus on strengthening institutional mechanisms and capacity at both national and sub-national levels to ensure they can handle the delivery of social protection services and meet the increasing demand of expanding coverage. An important positive step in this regard is that various social assistance programmes are now gathered under one roof, the newly established National Social Assistance Fund. Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen The UN system is supporting the Royal Government in the expansion of social protection coverage to those populations that are not yet covered. Our support to the government in this area includes: development of a strategy for progressive formalization of informal employment; design and eventual introduction of the Family Package Scheme; graduation based social protection; and, the formulation and introduction of a shock-responsive social protection framework. There is also a need to improve the accountability and transparency of the social protection system through the development of a monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. This is essential to deepen the public’s trust and enhance the social contract between the state and its people. The recent establishment of the Social Security Regulator to supervise and oversee the operations of all social security schemes in the country is an important step in this regard. The Regulator plays a crucial role to ensure that social security schemes are executed in a transparent, accountable and financially sustainable manner. Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen Before closing, and on behalf of the UN system, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Royal Government and other partners for the positive collaboration and partnership that have resulted in remarkable achievements in protecting the most vulnerable from the unprecedented multifaceted COVID-19, fuel and food crises. As Cambodia has emerged out of these crises, these results highlight a great opportunity to realise our shared goal of a Cambodian society that is more resilient, prosperous, sustainable and where no one is left behind. I am pleased to reaffirm our commitment to continue our support for an integrated, transparent and accountable social protection system including through the new UN Cooperation Framework for the period 2024-2028 that is currently being elaborated with you all. I believe that the fundamental point is this: there must be collective efforts - by the Government, by the community, by partners, the UN to bring social protection not only into law, but also into practice. This Social Protection Week is an excellent opportunity to take stock and chart the way forward. I wish you all very productive deliberations. Thank you very much for your kind attention.
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24 May 2022
UNODC launches public information campaign to sensitize about the harmful consequences of gender-based violence in Phnom Penh
While the Royal Government of Cambodia has made significant efforts to combat gender-based violence (GBV), remaining challenges need to be addressed, such as the lack of knowledge on victim-centred police responses to GBV against women and other available support services. To help address these key barriers in Cambodia, the United Nations Office on Drug and Crimes (UNODC) Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, with support from the German Federal Foreign Office, is launching a 6-month public information campaign today, aiming both at strengthening community-police relations and informing the public of available services to tackle GBV-related crimes. "UNODC is pleased to contribute to the National Action Plan for Prevention Violence Against Women (NAPVAW) 2019-2023 by means of this public information campaign. We aim to sensitize the harmful consequences of GBV in Phnom Penh and make people aware of the available services to victims. GBV does not only affect the victims, but it also damages the social fabric of the communities," emphasized Mr Esteban Felipe De La Torre, UNODC Regional Coordinator for Southeast Asia. He further added that this campaign is part of a wider advocacy and awareness-raising initiative from a UNODC project that focuses on community policing approaches to reduce cases of GBV in high-risk areas in Phnom Penh. By working closely with the Cambodian National Police, the project also strives to build the capacity of frontline male and female police officers, to enhance existing mechanisms to detect, report and refer to incidences of GBV. With the support from the Municipal Department of Women Affairs and District/Khan Office of Social Affairs and Welfare, six communities in three Districts confronted with significant challenges related to GBV were identified, including Khan Dang Ko, Khan Po Senchey, and Khan Sen Sok. Targeting diverse audiences, especially women between the ages of 15 and 49, this public information campaign against GBV will reach out to the public by disseminating online and printed content. Prominent online influencers from various sectors will also amplify the campaign’s message. With the hashtag #SpeakUpAgainstViolence, the campaign entitled “Help is always available for you”, encourages victims and witnesses to overcome the cultural and social stigma associated with GBV and speak up by building positive sentiment toward seeking support when needed. Lieutenant General Chiv Phally, Director of Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Department, Cambodian National Police, and Ms Sar Sineth, Deputy Secretary-General, Ministry of Women’s Affairs of Cambodia, recognized champions against GBV, spoke at the event and emphasized the importance of reaching out to the most vulnerable communities. During her closing remarks at the launch, Dr Angelika Stauder, First Secretary and Deputy Head of Cooperation, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Phnom Penh, commented that: “The police alone cannot solve violence against women and girls. It is a societal problem which requires a societal response. However, the police do have unique powers and responsibilities to protect victims from further harm, pursue perpetrators and prevent crimes. I hope that this public information campaign launch is an important step in directing victims towards the available police service and safety resources.”
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