United Nations Response



Courtesy of WikiCommons

The United Nation Response:

Cambodia was one of the countries who ratified the Genocide Convention in 1951, but genocide charges were never brought against the Khmer Rouge regime. Neither the US nor its EU called attention to the atrocities as they were occurring. Israel became the first country to raise the issue of a potential genocide in Cambodia. In March, 1978, Britain's UN representative responded to popular pressure from the main churches of England by raising the subject before the UN commission on Human Rights (UNCHR), and called for the appointment of a special human rights rapporteur to investigate. Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Syria teamed up to block even this rhetorical route, delaying consideration of Cambodian's human right. Three years after the genocide, no official UN body condemned the slaughter.

In 1977 and 1978, the atrocity of Khmer Rouge were revealed on the UN. The KR responded by claiming that "British citizens enjoyed only the right to be slaves, thieves, prostitutes, or unemployed." On April 1978, the KR's Foreign Affairs Minister Ieng Sary wrote a letter to the UN denouncing the " propaganda machine of the imperialists, the expansionists,  annextionist" who charged them with mass killing. He said, "There is no reason for the KR to reduce the population or to maintain it at its current level," he wrote, "since today's population of 8 million is well below the potential of the country, which needs more than 20 million." 

Many scholars linked the genocide in Cambodia to the Holocaust in order to make the US and UN take action. In an April 1978 New York Time editorial entitled " Silence is Guilt," William Safire also referred to the Holocaust and asked why the world was doing nothing?