Minister of National Defence Tea Seiha has shared the Kingdom’s willingness to cooperate with the militaries of all friendly nations to upgrade the capacity of its own forces. 

He noted the government’s determination to modernise the capacity of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), in order to protect peace and public order, as well as the Kingdom’s sovereignty, according to a ministry social media post.

Addressing the February 27 return of two contingents of Cambodia peacekeepers from UN missions, he reiterated that Cambodia has no intention to interfere in the internal affairs of any foreign nation, other than under the umbrella of the UN.

An RCAF Multirole Engineering Unit returned from its mission in Lebanon, while an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit touched down on Cambodian soil after a deployment to the Central African Republic (CAR).

“Our forces stand ready to work alongside the militaries of all other countries to strengthen our ability to preserve peace and defend the Kingdom’s sovereignty,” said Seiha.

“The current government of Prime Minister Hun Manet has announced that it will prioritise our continued commitment to providing peacekeepers to the UN. We will join the international community on peacekeeping missions to countries where people are suffering from the effects of conflict,” he added.

He also highlighted the fact that one of the returning contingents was led by a woman, saying the government intends to increase the number of women who are deployed on future peacekeeping missions, and noting the value of their contributions.

The homecoming event was also attended by UN resident coordinator Jo Scheuer, who described the brave service of the returning troops as “upholding UN principles for a more peaceful world”, according to the UN in Cambodia.

General Sem Sovanny, director-general of the National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces (NPMEC), said that in the last 18 years, Cambodia has dispatched 9,563 peacekeepers, including 816 women, on UN missions to 10 countries, including Sudan, South Sudan, Chad, Lebanon, Cyprus, Syria, CAR, Mali, Yemen and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

At present, 640 of the Kingdom’s peacekeepers, including 124 women, are deployed in South Sudan, Lebanon, Mali, CAR and DRC.

Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, noted that Seiha’s declaration was in line with article 53 of the Constitution, which prohibits its military from engaging in any activities abroad apart from UN peacekeeping missions.

He explained that the article also permits military ties for training purposes.

He recalled the support Cambodia received from the UN, saying it is time to contribute to assisting other countries now that the Kingdom is at peace and enjoying rapid development.

Peou acknowledged that the RCAF’s capacity lagged behind several other countries in the region, which indicates the necessity of upgrades, both in terms of equipment, training and supporting infrastructure.