Prime Minister Hun Sen and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn were in New York last week. They had just participated in the UN General Assembly sessions.
At the sidelines of the UNGA, they had numerous meetings, in particular with UN Secretary- General Antonio Guterres, and also with many representatives of different countries.
In his speech to representatives of the international community, Prime Minister Hun Sen recalled the tremendous turnout that characterised the recent national election. He also took the opportunity to address the few who questioned the legitimacy of the poll.
“By their votes, Cambodians reaffirmed their desire for peace, stability and long-lasting sustainable development,” Mr Hun Sen told the UNGA.
“Indeed, the free choice of the Cambodian people and the legitimate result of this election is not a subject for question or debate. Some external circles, who have fed on ambition to interfere in the domestic affairs of Cambodia, still fail to see the quality and integrity of our election process by issuing statements against or attacking the election outcome,” added the prime minister.
“Such actions are a serious assault on the will of the Cambodian people.”
Mr Hun Sen also denounced the attitude of certain great powers who exploited for purely political purposes international law, the question of human rights and that of democracy, and hence denied the sovereignty of the people.
“We are heartedly regretful to highlight the fact that human rights nowadays have become ‘a mission to impose civilization’ for some powerful nations or, perhaps, as their operating standards as the pretext for interference under the name of political right protection,” Mr Hun Sen told the United Nations.
“As a result, the imposition of unilateral sanctions has become a popular weapon of powerful nations in managing their international politics, which is completely driven by their geopolitical agendas,” he added.
“This is nothing but a use of the brutal force of a particular state to impose its will on other sovereign states. In a world, where the eras of imperialism and colonialism became the history, we have to acknowledge that not all nations in this General Assembly shall follow the governing model of any country.”
The prime minister warned that big countries should not attempt to install their administrative system on other small countries, “because those small countries also possess sovereignty and legitimate aspiration to maintain their own identities”.
“In the modern-days of interdependence, such an old style coercive mind-set should be put to rest. Together, both big and small countries, must respect one another and uphold the rules of the international law and the Charter of the United Nations,” he pointed out.
How can the Cambodian prime minister not be right? We are witnessing daily the hypocrisy of those who claim to defend universal “principles and values”, but only when it comes to countries to which they do not buy oil or do not sell weapons. This hypocrisy was confirmed to me last July during a talk with an official of the European Union who, with regard to possible sanctions against Cambodia, declared: “With Cambodia, we can all allow ourselves, this does not cost us anything.”
This arrogance and contempt is not shocking. Cambodia has seen enough of this behaviour from diplomats aiming to provoke and create a regime change, in full abrogation of constitutional rules.
What Cambodians must remember today is the many expressions of sympathy and support given by many heads of states and governments, at the UN General Assembly, to Mr Hun Sen and Mr Sokhonn.
It was indeed a diplomatic victory for Cambodia at the United Nations.
Raoul M Jennar is a political scientist.