Japanese Government Undermines the UN
Shortly before the inception of the ECCC, Japan asserted itself as a committed donor to the process by immediately taking the lead in terms of funds pledged and subsequently made available. In addition to its size the Japanese funding to the Court has since had one other feature which makes it particular attractive to the Cambodian government: the Japanese do not ask questions. The Japanese government has made this policy clear in a number of statements it has issued since the inception of the ECCC which asserted that the policy of bilateral assistance of Japan was not to intervene in the management of projects paid for from its funds. True to this policy the Japanese government has refrained from commenting on the allegations of kickbacks which has been the pivotal issue of ECCC financial management in the last almost 3 years.
However, recent events demonstrate that the Japanese government has gone far beyond its “no-questions asked” policy and interfered with the rest of the international community pressure campaign to spur the Cambodian government to investigate the allegations of kickbacks. Such pressure campaign had been conducted through the UN offices for a period of time and reached a point where the parties managed to converge on a number of policy elements. Reasonably cooperative up to a certain point the Cambodian government suddenly stopped in its tracks and refused to compromise on the remainder of policy elements. Shortly after such negotiations had failed the Japanese government came to the rescue of the “Cambodian side” of the ECCC with a $4.1 million package, thus making access to the funds frozen by the UN as a result of the Cambodian government’s inaction on the allegations of kickbacks unnecessary (at least for the period of time these funds last). Whether the Cambodian government knew in the course of its negotiations with the UN that the Japanese government would fund the “Cambodian side” of the Court regardless of the outcome of the UN-RGC negotiations remains a good question. However, the timing of the Japanese government’s contribution coupled with a fair understanding of development funding policies and procedures may be of assistance in teasing out an answer to this question.