Since 1980 the NGO community in Cambodia has dedicated itself to serving the Cambodian
people. Its primary concern has been and remains to work with the Cambodian people.
The objective is the provision of humanitarian aid, rehabilitation and development
in a way which advances the well-being of people in need. NGOs are seeking to work
as partners and facilitators to enable Cambodians to determine the future direction
of their development.
Rehabilitation and development depends entirely on Cambodia attaining a peaceful
and stable political environment. There must be full support and appropriate development
aid from foreign governments and financial institutions. This, however, is no more
than a dream if one primary requirement is not fulfilled, namely, to respect the
Cambodians' right to self-determination.
Since earlier this year many NGOs have been petitioning foreign nations to swiftly
give an appropriate and immediate form of recognition to the newly elected government,
following the completion of the U.N.-sponsored election. This appeal was based on
the assumption that the elections would be as free and fair as is possible, given
The elections and their outcome are history now and they have indeed been pronounced
free and fair. However, some UNTAC officials together with some of the foreign governments
who have been supporting the United Nations' efforts to establish peace, are now
inhibiting the formulation of a Cambodian government if it does not meet their expectations.
The apparent determination of some UNTAC officials and some foreign powers to manipulate
the post-election process to serve their own purposes concerns many in the NGO community.
As a result of this interference Cambodia's hope of finally embarking on a path of
rehabilitation and development and of finally haying its sovereignty restored is
We sincerely regret that the initiatives of Prince Sihanouk, long recognized as the
one person most capable of facilitating a Cambodian solution, have been purposefully
thwarted by these parties. His efforts to formulate an interim coalition government
were certainly in the spirit of the Paris Peace Accords and should have been supported
by UNTAC. If the current volatile situation is to be stabilized, Prince Sihanouk
must be given freedom by UNTAC and foreign governments to form such a government.
Cambodia needs a Cambodian solution. If Prince Sihanouk can find such a solution
he must be given all the support necessary (financial as well as moral) to achieve
this. This should involve UNTAC acting as a facilitator. Neither UNTAC nor any government
must dictate the outcome of such a process. Without a Cambodian solution, peace and
stability is unattainable and any effort at development or rehabilitation is futile.
The elections have not produced winners or losers, but an opportunity to have a government
of the people's choice. Cambodians have waited too long for such an opportunity,
having suffered long enough under foreign influences. Let not past differences and
the dusty pages of history destroy the hopes and expectations of Cambodians that
have been built up over the past two years.
- Stephen Dowall and Jaffer Nurmohamed, on behalf of concerned, NGO workers