UNESCO's reaction to Amnesty International's report on Angkor
UNESCO is deeply concerned about the allegations in the report of Amnesty International regarding the population relocation programme in Angkor carried out by the Cambodian authorities. UNESCO reiterates that at no point did it request, support, or participate in this programme.
It is important to note that the Angkor site is not only a heritage site, it is also a living site: the presence of the population was integral to the decision to include the site on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1992.
Since the Cambodian authorities announced their population relocation programme in 2022, UNESCO has repeatedly and publicly recalled the importance of full respect for human rights.
The Organization has also urged them to ensure that any relocation is voluntary and to involve local communities in policies, management, and protection processes of the World Heritage Property as set out in line with the Operational Guidelines for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention ratified by 195 countries. It is important to note that UNESCO has always categorically rejected the use of forced evictions.
Amnesty International’s report provides new light on the situation on the ground.
UNESCO invited Amnesty International to its Paris headquarters on Tuesday to discuss the report's findings. UNESCO encourages all the stakeholders involved to implement the recommendations addressed to them within their fields of competence.
UNESCO calls on the Cambodian authorities to make an explicit commitment not to carry out forced evictions in Angkor and to ensure that all necessary corrective measures are put in place urgently to ensure full respect of all Human Rights for those communities concerned with the support of the International Coordinating Committee for Angkor (ICC-Angkor).
UNESCO also decided to bring forward the date for submission by Cambodia of a new national report on the state of conservation of the Angkor site. This report is now expected by 1 February 2024, for examination by the States Parties to the Convention at the next session of the World Heritage Committee, in the summer of 2024, and not in 2025 as initially planned.
This national report should include a response to the Amnesty International allegations.