44 Harv. Int'l L.J. 551 (2003)
Joint U.N.-Cambodia Efforts to Establish a Khmer Rouge Tribunal; Donovan, Daniel Kemper

handle is hein.journals/hilj44 and id is 557 raw text is: VOLUME 44, NUMBER 2, SUMMER 2003

Recent Developments
JOINT U.N.-CAMBODIA EFFORTS TO ESTABLISH A KHMER ROUGE
TRIBUNAL
I. INTRODUCTION
Beginning in 1997, the United Nations and Cambodia engaged in a se-
ries of discussions about the establishment of a tribunal to try former mem-
bers of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge party. If formed, the Khmer Rouge Tribunal
(K.R. Tribunal) would be the first major response by both Cambodian and
international actors to the massive human rights atrocities committed in Cam-
bodia from 1975 to 1979.1 However, after five long years, those discussions
derailed, mainly due to U.N. concerns that Cambodian plans for the K.R. Tri-
bunal failed to ensure impartiality, independence, and objectivity for the U.N.-
sanctioned human rights tribunal.2 For almost one full year, there were no fur-
ther talks. Then, in January 2003, the United Nations and Cambodia came to-
gether again to hold a six-day round of talks in New York.3
1. From April 17, 1975 to January 7, 1979, the Khmer Rouge controlled present-day Cambodia, then
known as Democratic Kampuchea. The Communist Khmer Rouge styled itself as a revolutionary or-
ganization intent on transforming Cambodia into a classless, socialist regime practically overnight. Just
one week after taking control, the Khmer Rouge forcibly moved over two million Cambodians from
cities and towns into the countryside. The migration alone resulted in thousands of deaths. The Khmer
Rouge then embarked on a massive agricultural plan consisting mainly of rice production. Many of those
who made it to the rural regions had never worked in agriculture before, and were often forced to work
twelve-hour days every day of the year. Food supplies grew scarce, resulting in famines in 1977 and 1978.
On top of this, the Khmer Rouge imprisoned and executed countless numbers of individuals as enemies
of the Democratic Kampuchea. David Chandler, Killing Fields, http://www.cybercambodia.com/dachs/
killings/killing.html. The Khmer Rouge's own records indicate that about 20,000 people were killed at
Tool Sleng, the Khmer Rouge's main detention center. Terence Duffy, Towarda Culture of Human Rights in
Cambodia, in CAMBODIA, 261, 266 (Sorpong Peou ed., 2001). It seems that only six people of all those
brought to Tool Sleng survived the experience. Chandler, supra. The methods of torture and execution at
Tool Sleng were so brutal as almost to defy belief. Prisoners were systematically confined to iron beds
where they were tortured using electric shocks and forced to make confessions that they were agents of
the CIA, the KGB, or the Vietnamese. Other methods of torture involved water treatment, scorpions,
beatings, and whippings. Some died during the torture; those who did not were usually clubbed or
stabbed to death. Duffy, supra, at 267-68. Executions also took place in the countryside outside the Tool
Sleng system, resulting in the scattering of mass graves, called killing fields, throughout the country.
Chandler, supra. The Khmer Rouge also attempted to purge the Cham, Chinese, and Vietnamese ethnic
minorities within Cambodia. George Chigas, The Trial of the Khmer Rouge: The Role of the Tuol Sleng and Santebal
Archives, HARV. ASIA Q., Winter 2000, http://www.fas.harvard.edu/-asiactr/haq/200001/0001a009.htm. In
1979, Vietnamese troops captured Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital, and the Khmer Rouge leaders fled.
Some estimate that nearly one in four Cambodians perished during the Khmer Rouge regime. See gener-
ally DAVID CHANDLER, A HISTORY OF CAMBODIA 209-25 (2d ed. 1996).
2. See EVAN GOTTESMAN, CAMBODIA AFTER THE KHMER ROUGE: INSIDE THE POLITICS OF NATION
BUILDING 354 (2003) (noting that one of the sticking points was whether foreigners or ... Cambodians
would decide who would be indicted).
3. See U.N., Cambodia Begin Exploratory Talks on Establishing Special Khmer Rouge Court, U.N. NEWS

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