Following its inaugural workshop on civil and military relations held in the capital
December 2001, the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace (CICP) has announced
it will hold ten similar meetings this year.
Dr Kao Kim Hourn, executive director of CICP, said closer contact between the military
and civil society was essential for reform of the armed forces.
"Successful military reform will require the engagement and cooperation of all
sectors of society: the military itself, the government and civil society,"
he told a press conference. "If there is no relationship with civil society,
the process of reform cannot be successful."
The CICP released a policy briefing at the press conference, which noted that past
demobilization efforts had not sufficiently involved civil society. Kim Hourn said
one reason civil society should be involved was that it provided for the needs of
demobilized soldiers and helped ensure they integrated successfully into society.
This helped minimize potential social problems, he said.
Problems could arise from the military's efforts to tackle demobilization at the
same time as it dealt with reform: civil society, said Kim Hourn, could help to predict
problems from this dual process and build trust between former soldiers and civilians.
"It is to early to say what those problems might be," he said. "It
could be something that happens in the next two or three years. We will research
the potential problems as part of our ongoing efforts."
Boua Chanthou, director of Partnership for Development in Kampuchea (PADEK), a local
NGO, said civil society did not discriminate between serving soldiers, former soldiers
or civilians when providing assistance.
"All the people in my project zone benefit from our efforts in such areas as
providing skills," she said. "Civil society exists to help everyone."
CICP will organize the workshops in cooperation with the National Democratic Institute
of International Affairs with support from USAID. The first workshop starts January