What is UPR?1
The UPR (Universal Periodic Review) is a peer-review process before the UN Human Rights Council, where each UN Member State is examined every 4 to 5 years 2 3 4. The review is based on three documents: a report by the State, a report by the UN, and a report by other stakeholders 4. The State receives recommendations from other States and has to report on their implementation 3 5. The UPR aims to improve the human rights situation in each country and foster cooperation 5 6.
Indigenous communities and organizations in Cambodia, represented by the Cambodia Indigenous Association (CIYA)8 and the Cambodia Indigenous Peoples Alliance (CIPA), have submitted their recommendations alongside NGO partners, namely the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)9, for the third cycle of the UPR during the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council in 2019.
UPR Review Process:
Land rights and justice, democracy, the rule of law, and indigenous human rights defenders, discrimination, poverty, and basic social services (rights to health, education and livelihood) are highlighted as key areas of focus in the review. These areas have each issued the following recommendations:
Land Rights and Justice
- RGC should respond to the joint communication of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia (OL KHM 6/2017) regarding the “current slow pace at which indigenous land titling is currently taking place.” Highlighting the recommendations in this joint communication,
- RGC should simplify the collective land title application process, including by reducing procedural requirements such as preliminary mapping and the number of ministries involved.
- RGC should revoke the limitation of indigenous peoples’ sacred forests and gravesites (seven hectares respectively) in their collective land title applications.
- RGC should ensure that indigenous peoples have the necessary technical support, including for cadastral surveys of their community, recognition of their legal status and completion of the necessary procedures once they have submitted their applications.
- RGC should work with indigenous peoples in sensitizing the ministries involved to indigenous rights and ensure a non-discriminatory treatment and service provided.
- RGC should ensure that their Environment and Natural Resources Code of Cambodia and associated guidelines and Law on Agricultural Land that are being drafted, including its 2001 Land Law correspond to RGC’s international human rights obligations – in particular with regard to procedural safeguards including consultation and consent – and its recognition of indigenous peoples’ land rights.
Democracy, Rule of Law, and Indigenous Haman Rights Defenders
- RGC should take further measures to proceed with its judicial reform, to address land issues and to combat corruption, as these are important for the promotion and protection of human rights as well as the consolidation of democracy.
- RGC should ensure a clear-cut separation of power and the rule of law and follow through with the commitment toward the continuation of implementation of its reform program in all sectors in a more in-depth manner, particularly – individual rights, collective rights, and multi-party system and pluralism.
- RGC should respect the rights of indigenous peoples to free, prior and informed consent as per UNDRIP, in particular regarding management of their LTR, including any development initiative that will impact their lives and overall wellbeing.
- RGC should ensure that IPHRDs are not criminalized and ensure access to justice for all IPHRDs.
Discrimination, poverty, basic social services (right to health, education and livelihood)
- RGC should legally recognize all indigenous peoples and work with indigenous organizations in other indigenous communities that are currently not in the Government’s list. It should uphold UNDRIP, including all the international human rights instruments it has ratified.
- RGC should demonstrate its tolerance to diversity through declaration of the International Day of Indigenous Peoples commemorated every 9 August as national holiday.
- RGC should implement their 2030 Agenda in cognizance of indigenous peoples situation and rights, including ensuring disaggregated data by ethnicity are put in place when monitoring the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
- RGC should consider reviewing the bilingual education programmes in consultation with indigenous peoples, and in line with CERD and UNESCO recommendation, to ensure a method that will improve the learning environment for indigenous peoples.
- RGC should provide particular assistance to indigenous women and girls and ensure full support to achieve proper education until tertiary level.
- RGC should ensure full and equal access to public health and education services for indigenous peoples through increasing the number of health care and education facilities that sensitive to indigenous peoples culture and rights.