Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Japan, UN support civil discourse

Japan, UN support civil discourse

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Japanese ambassador Masahiro Mikami (left) and UNDP resident representative Nick Beresford (right) during a meeting in Phnom Penh on Thursday. UNDP

Japan, UN support civil discourse

The Japanese government and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), in conjunction with Cambodia’s Ministry of Interior and the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC) – a coalition representing local NGOs – have inaugurated a new cooperative development project.

According to a joint press release on December 3, the project – “Building Capacities for Civic Engagement, Peacebuilding and Inclusive Dialogue: Towards Inclusive and Participatory Governance”– was initiated in March and will run for four years. It aims to foster an enabling environment for inclusive dialogue and partnership between the Cambodian government and civil society organisations (CSOs).

The project is co-funded by Japan and the UNDP with a budget of $2.16 million.

“The project’s implementation is supported by the interior ministry and CSO representatives who are committed to enhancing civic engagement and dialogue in Cambodia by making it more inclusive and open to diverse voices,” the press release said.

“To build back better requires a new social contract that takes advantage of the diverse views and ideas of women, men, youth, minority groups and especially those who are left behind,” it said.

The project will facilitate “milestone dialogues” in forums in Phnom Penh and the provinces of Kampong Cham, Siem Reap, Ratanakkiri and Kampot in 2021 so as to establish concrete action, implementation and monitoring plans based on the identified needs, it said.

Interior ministry secretary of state Bun Honn said: “Partnership is one of the requirements to contribute to the development of Cambodia for sustainable growth. The Cambodian government always works in partnership with various stakeholders to achieve strategic plans and development goals.”

Japanese ambassador Masahiro Mikami reaffirmed that his government would continue to support democratic development in Cambodia.

“This clearly demonstrates Japan’s determination to deepen cooperation with various partners in this field. We always hope that all Cambodian people are united for the development of the nation through democratic processes and believe that it is essential for further advancing Cambodia’s efforts,” he said.

UNDP resident representative Nick Beresford said: “As the country builds back better from Covid-19, inclusive civic engagement that takes advantage of Cambodia’s diverse civil society is more critical than ever ... UNDP supports the commitment of government and CSOs to having inclusive and meaningful dialogues, paying particular attention to populations whose voices are not currently heard.”

CHRAC senior adviser Sotha Ros said on December 6 that without a proper mechanism to ensure that their views were registered and considered by the government, the voices of CSOs have been too weak to wield much influence. But this project will come to fill that gap, he said.

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said it seemed that similar good governance projects in the past were not very successful. He was sceptical whether this particular project would fare any better.

“The same aims and more would be better attained if donors were to fund institution-building projects to establish an apolitical, efficient and honest civil service, functional institutions of parliamentary democracy and for the rule of law, including an apolitical and independent judiciary,” he said.


  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,

  • Capital-Poipet express rail project making headway

    The preliminary results of a feasibility study to upgrade the Phnom Penh-Poipet railway into Cambodia’s first express railway indicate that the project would cost more than $4 billion and would take around four years to complete. The study was carried out by China Road and

  • Thai boxers to join SEA Games’ Kun Khmer event

    The Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) – together with the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) and Khmer Boxing Federation – have achieved a “great success” by including Kun Khmer in the upcoming biennial multi-sports event on its home soil for the first time, said a senior

  • Bullets to bracelets: Siem Reap man makes waste from war wearable

    Jewellery is often made from valuable gemstones like emeralds or diamonds and precious metals like gold or silver, or valueless things like animal horns. But a man in Siem Reap has approached the manufacture of delicate pieces from a different angle. His unique form of

  • 61% of 2022 imports came from just 3 markets

    The three largest exporters to Cambodia – mainland China, Vietnam and Thailand – accounted for 60.94 per cent of the Kingdom’s total merchandise imports last year, at $18.245 billion, which was up 11.99 per cent over 2021, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise. Cambodia’s total imports