News and Updates

UN Resident Coordinator: Demining helps to improve people’s lives, but the work is difficult


Despite 25 years of clearing landmines and explosive remnants of war in Cambodia, nearly 2,000 square kilometers of land in rural areas remain affected. In fact, landmines prevent the use of farmland, deprive people of places to live and make travel on some roads dangerous. "Don't walk where the cows haven't," is practical advice by local community people often used in places with mines.


Cambodia has made progress for the past 25 years in releasing contaminated land and reducing casualties. As of December 2017, 1,700 square kilometers of land have been released and 1.25 million mines and 2.7 million ERW were destroyed. However, there is still a lot of work to be done.

The new UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Ms. Pauline Tamesis, who took office in March this year, visited Mine Action Operations firsthand to witness for herself and support the work on the ground.

During her three-day visit in Siem Reap and Banteay Meanchey provinces, Ms. Tamesis met with the representatives of Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC), the HALO trust, provincial authorities, non-profit sector, and specialists from Norwegian People’s Aid dog training and APOPO Training centers.

The first day of her journey, she visited the CMAC Peace Museum, learning about the history and different ways of demining in Cambodia, showing the on-going support of United Nations for mine action.

On the second day, Ms. Tamesis met with the HALO Trust, humanitarian clearance organization working in Cambodia since 1992. They travelled to a minefield in Banteay Meanchey province, part of the K5 mine belt, strip of land with a very high concentration of mines, where Ms. Tamesis saw the running mine clearance operation. Halo Trust estimates that after this minefield is released, six families will be able to move into the area.

“Mine action is difficult and dangerous job. I would like to express my gratitude to all who work in demining, they are the real heroes,” Ms. Tamesis said after seeing the deminers’ work.

After seeing the minefield, Ms. Tamesis also got to visit a cleared site at Damnah Kakoah village, which used to be a very dense mined area with both landmines and other explosive remnants of war. Over 150 households and, in cooperation with UNDP, a school were built after the area was released. Ms. Tamesis talked to the people living in the village and confirmed the dedication of the UN to support demining. 

Mine Action has real impact on people’s lives, it helps to save them from poverty and to open more opportunities for economic growth,” she said.

On the last day, Ms. Tamesis also visited dogs and rats training centers to see what possibilities lie in the use of animal detection systems. The Norwegian People’s Aid Training Centre in Siem Reap focuses on breeding and training Belgian shepherds and exploring the best ways to use them in the region. The APOPO Visitor Center in Siem Reap concentrates on training of African giant pouched rats that have a strong sense of smell and have been brought over to Cambodia to see if they could be effectively used for demining. At the end of her visit, Ms. Tamesis also met with members of Cambodia Self Help Demining, non-profit organization working towards mine free Cambodia.

Demining remains indeed essential for improving community people’s safety, providing them with access to economic opportunities, therefore saving them from poverty. This is the reason why Cambodia added goal 18th on mine action to its sustainable development goals. The Royal Government of Cambodia recently launched a new national mine action strategy that will help the sector to mobilize more resources to support on-the-ground actions to achieve ‘Mine Free Cambodia by 2025’.




Op-ed of the United Nations in Cambodia: Human Rights Day, 10 December 2017

Participation -credit - UN Photo Aneta


Human Rights Day, 10 December 2017, marks the launch of a year’s celebration to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  

We have much to celebrate. International treaties and national laws have been adopted to guarantee the rights of all, including women, children, persons with disabilities, indigenous communities and other vulnerable populations. These laws have led to real improvements in many people’s lives.  Yet, with conflict and inequality persisting across the world, we should also pause and reflect about the road ahead.

In his message on the occasion of the Human Rights Day this year, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres said: “Human rights are the foundation of peaceful societies and sustainable development. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes the equality and dignity of every person. It makes governments responsible for ensuring people can enjoy their inalienable rights and freedoms.”

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was always a bold endeavour.  It was created in response to the devastation of the Second World War and economic crises that shook the world in the last century.  It set a blueprint for action to realise the vision of the UN Charter for peace, stability and development.

Its goals were lofty, but also practical and applicable universally.  It declared all people to be born free and equal in dignity and rights.  It reaffirmed equality between men and women.  It recognized access to health care and housing, universal and compulsory education, and dignified work as equally important as freedom of thought and expression, freedom of belief and religion, freedom of peaceful assembly and association. It recognized the will of the people as the basis of the authority of government.  It clearly stated that no one should suffer torture or slavery and that everyone is equal before the law.

Too often, the world has strayed from this vision.  And the resulting wars and crises, and the exclusion of people and their voice, tell a somber tale. Yet the Declaration has never ceased to inspire the resilience of people and the strive for improved institutions. In 2015, world leaders reaffirmed this vision by launching the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Agenda renews the commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ principles and those of the UN Charter.  The agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) focus on creating peace and prosperity in a way that is centred on people and protects the planet through partnerships, old and new.  The global goals reflect the Universal Declaration perhaps most clearly through the call of ‘leaving no one behind’.

The 2030 Agenda affirms that ‘leaving no one behind’ can only be achieved with the full realisation of rights and capabilities by all peoples without discrimination as guaranteed by international law, and this is also an essential building block for societies to be inclusive, just and peaceful.  Implementing such an ambitious agenda calls on leadership of the government and the full participation of people across society.

From participating in post-2015 surveys to advocating for the Sustainable Development Goals, civil society has already had a significant impact in shaping the 2030 Agenda.  And civil society has important roles to play in landing the agenda at community level, by raising awareness, extending services and sharing perspectives of those left behind to inform policy solutions.  Under SDG 16, partnership with the government is key to secure an enabling environment for civil society where rights and fundamental freedoms are guaranteed.

It has been the experience of the United Nations system in Cambodia time and again that open participation of civil society contributes positively to meeting national development priorities in a way that is inclusive, equitable and sustains peace. Thanks to civil society’s engagement, the cooperation among local and indigenous communities and local authorities to promote sustainable forests and fisheries management have seen some positive results.  And civil society organizations have been instrumental in policy-making and campaigning to respond to and prevent gender-based violence and violence against children. They have been key to achieving access to HIV prevention, treatment and care services for all in need. 

As we gear up to celebrate 70 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, let us nurture the creativity, innovation and ingenuity of civil society, protect and expand the space for civil society to operate and continue to develop partnerships to strengthen our purpose and draw closer to the goals we all want: sustainable development, justice, equality and peace for all.

Claire Van der Vaeren, UN Resident Coordinator on behalf of the United Nations system in Cambodia.




UNited for Youth Employment in Cambodia

UN_KH_UNJP_YEOfficial signing ceremony


UN agencies join forces to promote youth employment in Cambodia

Phnom Penh, 31 August 2017: The Royal Government of Cambodia and five UN agencies (ILO, UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF and UNV), with the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, launched a new joint programme to promote youth employment and reduce inequalities in the country.

Young women and men will be enabled to access better jobs – this is the goal of the “UNited For Youth Employment in Cambodia” Joint Programme, which was launched today as senior representatives from the Royal Government of Cambodia and the United Nations system inked the acceptance of the Joint Programme Document for a two-year cooperation, starting in 2017.  A cooperation agreement with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, who will be a strategic development partner, was also signed.

The launch ceremony for the Joint Programme has been organized by the Office of ILO in Phnom Penh and was attended by high-level personalities and representatives from the Government’s Ministries of Labour and Vocational Training and Education, Youth and Sport; members from the United Nations system and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation; as well as many other relevant stakeholders of Cambodia’s society.

In her welcome remarks at the ceremony, Ms. Claire Van der Vaeren, the United Nations Resident Coordinator for Cambodia, stressed the importance of promoting youth employment in the effort to support inclusive economic development and contribute to realising sustainable growth in Cambodia.

“The joint programme has offered a unique opportunity for all relevant stakeholders of Cambodia’s society including the Government, United Nations, development aid agencies, civil society and the private sector to work together toward achieving the common goal of enabling young women and men to access better employments particularly for disadvantaged and vulnerable groups,” she said.

The programme will promote decent and productive employment opportunities for Cambodian youth, with strong focus on the employability of young job seekers through quality education and skills training, including life skills, entrepreneurship and volunteerism.

His Excellency Ith Samheng, Minister of Labour and Vocational Training, congratulated all involved parties for the meaningful accomplishment of the development of the joint programme and praised the multilateral partnerships for the success of programme implementation.

“I am pleased to see diverse stakeholders coming together to embark on such a meaningful cooperative implementation, promoting quality and better access to employment for Cambodia’s youth population, and helping address challenges of youth employment in Cambodia,” he stated as he addressed participants at the ceremony.

The “UNited For Youth Employment in Cambodia” Joint Programme is a multilateral cooperation between with the Royal Government of Cambodia and five UN agencies:  The ILO as the administrative and convening agency, as well as UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF and UNV. The Joint Programme will benefit from the envisaged long-term partnership with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, as a contributor and a catalyst of policy and service coherence.

“The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation has the privilege to cooperate with all relevant key players in the sector for creating more and better jobs for Cambodian young people,” said Ms. Carin Salerno, Director, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, adding that providing support to Cambodia in its development efforts is one of the key focuses of the Agency.

For more information, contact:

Mr. Tun Sophorn, National Coordinator for Cambodia International Labour Organization (ILO). Tel: 023 220 817, email:

Mr. Tep Asnarith, Information Officer, Office of the UN Resident Coordinator. Tel: 012 957 919, email: .


Notes to the Editor:

• The “UNited For Youth Employment in Cambodia” Joint Programme is a multilateral cooperation between with the Royal Government of Cambodia and five UN agencies:  The ILO as the administrative and convening agency, as well as UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF and UNV, with the support and strategic partnership of the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC).  

• The Joint Programme will facilitate young people’s entrance to the labour force while reducing inequalities – particularly for disadvantaged and vulnerable groups- and ensuring young women and men are better able to meet labour demand. The Joint Programme will be implemented for an initial phase of two years starting in 2017, and pull together contributions amounting to  $4.5 million USD from SDC and the five UN agencies. 

• This unique cooperation comes in at the time where the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call for more focused effort toward youth employment, particularly with goal 8.