By Xavier d'Abzac, Advisor to First Prime Minister HRH Prince
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
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.
needs to ask, whether the Peace Treaty including six essential conditions for
the survival of Cambodia and the Cambodian people is now a dead
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 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?
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.
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.
determination will not wither. Continued help for Cambodia will not only
reinforce peace domestically, but will also benefit the entire Asia-Pacific