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Southeast Asian Legal Research Guide: Treaties

The effect of Treaties on domestic law

To take effect in national law, multilateral and bilateral international conventions must be adopted as law (Royal Kram)  by the Legislature (Article 90 of the Constitution), then signed and ratified by the King (Article 26 of the Constitution). After this ratification, international conventions become Laws and may be used as the basis for judicial decisions. Decision Nº 092/003/2007 CC.D of July 10 2007 of the Constitutional Council affirmed that Laws include domestic laws and international laws recognised by Cambodia, and that judges must consider international laws in their decision making process.

Article 8, Para 2  of the Constitution states that 'The king shall be the guarantor of ... respect for international treaties'. 

Article 31 of the Constitution provides that international human rights, in particular, as enshrined in the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human rights and all the treaties and conventions related to human rights, women’s rights and children’s rights shall be recognised and respected as part of domestic law.

For an excellent scholarly analysis and critique of the incorporation of treaty and customary international law in the Cambodian legal system, see Meas Bora, 'The1993 Cambodian Constitution and International Law: A Normative Perspective' in Hor Peng, Kong Phallack & Jörg Menzel, Cambodian Constitutional Law  (Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, 2016) 69- 85 (open access). This chapter includes discussion of whether Cambodia has a monist or dualist approach to international law, the status of international law in the Cambodian hierarchy of laws, and the treaty ratification process. The author observes that Cambodia lacks legal frameworks and practice involving international law, and does not implement international treaties effectively, and concludes by offering suggestions for clarifying the status of treaties within the legal system as well as the process by which international law is incorporated into domestic law.  

Treaties Adherence

The Rule of Law in Armed Conflict (RULAC) Project website includes information on the international human rights and humanitarian treaties and regional treaties to which Cambodia is a party. The website notes that 'Cambodia has a very high level of accession to international conventions on humanitarian law, human rights, refugees and international criminal law'.

Finding Cambodian Treaties

Once ratified, treaties must be published in the Official Gazette - this is not available online or in English.

Cambodia has no official treaty series - nor an online platform containing all treaties to which it is a party. The best way to find all bilateral and multilateral treaties to which Cambodia is a party is to use the United Nations Treaty Series Online. Select Participant Search from the top menu, and then Cambodia from the drop down list of countries. To cite treaties, use the UNTS citation provided in this database.

 

Some ratified treaties are available on Cambodian national open access laws databases (see the Laws box on the Constitution & Laws page in this Guide). These are usually identified by the word 'Adopting' or 'Approving' in the title of the Law - eg: 'Law Approving the Kingdom of Cambodia to be a Member of ASEAN Convention on Counter Terrorism'. For example, in the Laws, Policies and Agreements database on Open Development Cambodia, type 'Adopting' or 'Approving' in the Text Search box, select Laws in the Content Types box and Laws in the Document Type box. Most of the full text laws are in Khmer only, but the titles are in English.