Despite slipping five places in the Global Peace Index (GPI) in the past 12 months due to high rates of violent crime and military spending, Cambodia has made strides in peace efforts, experts said yesterday.
The 2015 GPI, released yesterday, assesses a nation’s proclivity for peace based on factors of social security, militarisation, and the degree of conflict at home and abroad. Cambodia was ranked as Asia-Pacific’s 5th least peaceful nation – out of 19 – and 111th out 162 worldwide.
According to the index, Cambodia maintains a fragile position in a “medium state of peace” amid a region with some of the world’s most stable and volatile nations, but has nonetheless made progress.
“This is a remarkable story in many ways, because if we go back 20 years ago, [Cambodia] would be one of the least peaceful countries in the world,” said Steve Killelea, an Australian technology expert who founded the GPI in 2007.
Cambodia lost key “ranking” points this year for failing to sufficiently meet their obligations to pay UN peacekeeping dues, and for instability on the Thai-Cambodia border.
“Peace in Cambodia has deteriorated, but only slightly,” explained Killelea. “What you have to understand is that peace around the globe has deteriorated.”
Killelea praised the Kingdom’s decreased rate of mortality from internal conflict, a low level of displaced people (compared to 10 years ago), as well as zero incidents of terrorism and minimal weapons trafficking.
The 2015 index also assessed “Positive Peace”, a measure of effectiveness in creating and maintaining a peaceful society. Cambodia’s score, not published in the public report, has improved more than 5 per cent since 2005.
“The only positive peace factor which didn’t improve was corruption, which increased slightly over the last decade,” Killelea noted.
However Phay Siphan, Council of Ministers spokesman, was adamant that corruption is being addressed and rejected the assessment of border instability.
“Everything is under control, and we are maintaining that stability,” he said, adding that “corruption was a sin” that the Anti-Corruption Unit is working to educate against.
Ou Virak, a political analyst and founder of the Future Forum think tank, countered that corruption is very real and expressed concern over the currently uncertain status of hundreds of thousands of migrant Cambodian workers who have yet to get legal documentation in Thailand.
“Political corruption is one of the main reasons to be afraid of internal instability,” he said. “There is very little optimism among youth.… They are seeking jobs outside of the country, and that is not a good sign.”