Little Has Changed in Cambodia
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Little Has Changed in Cambodia


APLN member Gareth Evans co-write a commentary with Gordon Conochie for The Conversation. They argue that Australia should use its leverage not just to promote the economic development of Cambodia but also to support Cambodians who are striving for democracy and freedom of expression.

Australia should continue to support the economic and social development of Cambodia, but also those Cambodians who are striving for democracy and freedom of expression. Targeted sanctions against those accused of human rights violations can and should be applied.

Australia recently consulted with 14 Cambodian ministries on its new Development Partnership Plan for Cambodia – but no alternative civil society voices. We have leverage, and should use it – not just to promote economic development, but the decent governance so many Cambodians want and deserve.

The CPP has called liberal democracy unattainably “pure and perfect”. However, Cambodia’s own constitution – accepted as part of the peace process following the civil war, in which Australia played a prominent part – says this is exactly what the country should be.

The millions of Cambodians who vote when they can, rally for human rights and risk jail to protest abuses show that belief in true democracy is not a minority aberration. Australia should be standing with them.

The original article can be accessed here.

Image: Members of the Cambodian community protest against Hun Sen’s visit to Sydney in 2018. Rick Rycroft/AP

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