Cambodia is set to assume new significant roles under the UN umbrella after being granted membership to the intergovernmental working group of experts on International Standards of Accounting and Reporting (ISAR) and the Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Regional Support Team for Asia and the Pacific.
The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) granted Cambodia membership to its subsidiary bodies following an election at its plenary session in April, according to a May 12 government press release. The Kingdom has taken on the PCB position for the term 2023-25 since April 5 and will assume the ISAR role for the term 2024-26 on January 1 next year.
In the May 12 press release, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation touted Cambodia’s achievements leading to the endorsement, and extended appreciation to the governments for their support and vote at the ECOSOC’s April session.
“[This] demonstrates the international community’s confidence in Cambodia and their acknowledgement of the Kingdom’s national reconstruction and successful management of HIV/AIDS epidemic as well as its contribution to the UN and common efforts for the better world,” it said.
Cambodia has regularly launched campaigns to raise public awareness in a bid to curb the spread of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STI), and is considered one of the most successful nations in reducing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, said senior health officials.
According to UNAIDS, the Kingdom turned a prevalence rate of 1.1 per cent in 2003 to 0.6 per cent in 2021, and was one of only seven nations in the world to achieve the 90-90-90 target, back in 2017.
On the other hand, the Ministry of Health said in late 2022 that when compared to the 95-95-95 targets by 2025, the Kingdom had achieved 84-99-97. This meant that 84 per cent of HIV positive people were aware of their status, 99 per cent of of all people with diagnosed HIV infections were receiving sustained antiretroviral therapy, and 97 per cent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy have viral suppression.
The National AIDS Authority (NAA) has said that the government is determined to hit the 95-95-95 targets and ensure that new infections are fewer than 300 per annum by 2025.
On accounting and reporting standards, foreign minister Prak Sokhonn said earlier this month that Cambodia will continue to enforce the Law on Accounting and Auditing, which was promulgated in 2016, to prevent the country from falling back into the “grey list” of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) – an intergovernmental body set up to develop policies to combat international money laundering and financing of terrorism.
The Paris-based FATF removed Cambodia from the grey list of high-risk countries for money-laundering on February 24.
Sokhonn, who is also deputy prime minister, said the delisting was the result of the strong commitment of the government and all relevant stakeholders, including foreign NGOs, as reporting entities.
Royal Academy of Cambodia secretary-general Yang Peou said the granting of membership to the two UN bodies reflects the Kingdom’s rapid development from a country that was once reliant on the UN for assistance to one which now contributes to its operations.
He said Cambodia today enjoys peace and is very active on international stage, most notably through its contributions to UN peacekeeping missions.
“Cambodia’s success at managing communicable diseases may have played a role in its inclusion to the two bodies,” he said.