Accountability for Human Rights Violations in Cambodia: Mapping the Indirect Effects of Transitional Justice Mechanisms

In: Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law
View More View Less
  • 1 University of Ghent

When studying accountability for human rights violations in Cambodia, it is crucial to understand the role human rights non-governmental organisations (ngos) can play in holding duty-bearers accountable. This article consists of two parts. The first traces how some prominent Cambodian ngos use the language of human rights and which issues they prioritise. The analysis shows that issues related to civil and political rights dominate their discourse, while there is remarkably little attention to issues relating to economic, social and cultural rights. This prioritisation is not rooted in popular priorities, nor can it be adequately explained by referring to mainstream theories of donor influence or professionalised elites. To better understand where these priorities come from, the second part of the article examines the Cambodian transitional justice process. This analysis shows a significant overlap between the priorities of the selected ngos and those of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (eccc). It is therefore argued that transitional justice mechanisms, like the eccc, may have an agenda-setting power far beyond what is commonly assumed. In this specific case, this influence raises questions about accountability for past and on-going violations of economic, social and cultural rights.