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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Treaty guarantees need muscle

Treaty guarantees need muscle

By Xavier d'Abzac, Advisor to First Prime Minister HRH Prince

Norodom Ranariddh

T he Paris Peace Agreements signed on Oct 23, l991 by 19

countries, in front of the UN Secretary-General, included international

guarantees concerning respect for the sovereignty, independence, territorial

integrity and inviolability, neutrality and national unity of

Cambodia.

The peace process that benefitted Cambodia has also been

beneficial to peace in not only Southeast Asia but, more broadly, in the

Asia-Pacific region where many world interests are at stake.

However, one

needs to ask, whether the Peace Treaty including six essential conditions for

the survival of Cambodia and the Cambodian people is now a dead

letter?

For their part, Cambodians have demonstrated that they have

clearly fulfilled the duties stipulated in articles 1 and 3 of the 3rd part of

the agreement.

The departure of the blue berets from Cambodian territory

does not mean the end of the peace process. The given guarantees still need to

be concretized. Guarantees without the means to implement them are meaningless.

The signatory countries have affirmed their good will to respect, to

make respected, the integrity and inviolability of Cambodia. Alas, currently the

territorial and ocean borders are being violated day and night. It is clear who

has given the guarantees, but up until now, it is unclear how these guarantees

will be enforced and by whom. To date, the Paris Treaty signatories have shown

no willingness to make good their pledges.

When Cambodia addresses

requests for assistance only just to provide surveillance of its territorial

waters, it is the duty of the "guarantors" to give a positive response to these

requests. If the fear is that Cambodia will receive arms which will be used for

another purpose, then the guarantors themselves must do something so that

borders will be respected and territorial waters won't be violated.

Cambodian fishermen and sailors have already been assassinated in their own

waters by foreign fishermen engaged in smuggleing.

The theft of

Cambodia's natural resources continues: cut logs, rubber, precious stones, fresh

and salt-water products as well as many others. Is the international community

waiting for the destruction of an unprotected offshore oil platform before the

international guarantees will be applied? And even if oil platforms are

protected it is likely that Cambodian waters will continue to be happy hunting

grounds for foreign smugglers.

Illegal immigration is a question that is

linked directly to the inviolability of the national territory. Why is it, then,

that the government of a neighboring country has put forth pre-conditions before

discussions aimed at resolving border disputes can proceed?

Guarantees of

sovereignty. Projects, such as the one presented by the Asian Development Bank,

calling for the integration of Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and

Southern China, raise many serious questions.

First, the idea of an

"integrated region" is a cause for concern. To integrate means to delete. It is

to erase the differences, to levelize. And these differences effect the

characteristics of the national identity of the people. To integrate means to

aim at a level of organization to better patronize it, if not dominate it

entirely. Does a state such as Cambodia, having experienced 23 years of war and

suffering have the means to resist?

The issue is a question of will. And, fortunately, Cambodia has it. The

European Community was not made by supra-nationality, because some members,

especially France, did not want it. The national identity of each country should

be preserved. Why not do the same thing in Southeast Asia? The ADB experts have

defined and drafted a five year plan. Nothing has been left out: economy,

demography, transfer of technology (favoring only one of six countries!),

agriculture, industrialization and culture. However, since the plan effects the

sovereignty of the countries in question, their signatures are required.

Cambodia did not provide hers.

National Unity. Just a simple bamboo

barricade was enough to stop the international community in Pailin. And this was

not just an abstract incident. Cambodia is alone to deal with the painful

process of re-assembling its national unity, around Her King, and to bring back

to the inner circle those children who are getting away.

The guarantors

of the Peace Accords could not achieve the goals of cantonment, disarmament, and

demobilization of the four Cambodian signatories of the Paris agreements and,

thus, national unity has been held at bay. If, in addition to this, a powerful

neighboring country, also a signatory to the Paris agreements, continues to push

the division and secession of territory, then it should not be a surprise when

Cambodia initiates actions to resolve these difficulties.

It is important

to note that an achievement of the peace process was the recognition that

national development deserves the highest consideration.

However, of the

$585 million set aside for Cambodian reconstruction, most of these funds seem to

have been spent for studies, experts, colloquia, conferences and reports.

Basic needs, such as clean water, have not even begun to be satisfied.

And one is left with the conclusion that Cambodia's rural population is being

punished by the international donor system.

Even if Cambodia must use its

miniscule resources for the development and reunification of the Kingdom, it

will utilize all the means at its disposal to fulfill its duty to the

international community - diplomatically, with the UN Security Council, via

appeals to the Co-Presidents of the ICPC, through bilateral and multilateral

channels and any other means.

The success, so far, of the United Nations

peace plan is based, in

part, on the will of the Cambodian people to

cooperate with the

international community and their determination of

overcome the difficulties arising from the last 23 years of strife.

This

determination will not wither. Continued help for Cambodia will not only

reinforce peace domestically, but will also benefit the entire Asia-Pacific

region.

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