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Cambodia: Annual Security Outlook

Domestic Security Environment


After the disintegration of the Khmer Rouge forces and the general election in 1998, Cambodia has recovered national unity and political stability. They have enabled the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) to devote its attention on the economic and social development of the country within the framework of liberal democratic institutions and an open market economy.


It has set a "Triangle Strategy", namely the securing of internal peace and stability, Cambodia's integration into the regional and international community and the implementation of institutional reforms in order to build a solid foundation for long-term growth and sustainable development. The reform programs include:

1. Demobilization and reforms of the armed forces,

2. Reforms of the public service

3. Reforms of the judiciary system,

4. reforms of the public finance.


Thus doing, the Cambodian Government has given priority to rural development and the alleviation of poverty. The pacification of the country having been achieved, the Royal Government of Cambodia has successfully completed the registration of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, the strength of which is 140,693 men and has decided to reduce it to 100,000 by late 2002. Consequently, the number of soldiers to be demobilized from the year 2000 to 2002 is 31,500. This year alone, the RGC will discharge 15,000 soldiers. In 2000, 1500 soldiers were demobilized for the pilot phase.


The year 1999 was a historical turning point for Cambodia, as it finally became a full-fledged member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on 30 April. Herewith, for the first time in Southeast Asia's history, all States in the region belongs to one political organization.


In February 2001 Cambodia submitted a list of purchased weapons and equipment to the UN Conventional Weapons Register, thus subscribing to the United Nations Conventional Arms Register (ONCAR).


In addition, the Ministry of National Defense of Cambodia issued the Defense White Paper, which was officially released on 20 of April 2001. It was the first time in its history that Cambodia has established such defense and security guidelines on the role and tasks of its Armed Forces in safeguarding the independence, national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country as a responsible member of the world community of nations.


The RGC has launched a campaign to curb small arms and light weapons. It has taken severe measures to strictly control the use and circulation of small arms and ammunitions, eliminate their illegal procurement and sales by destroying those seized arms.


So far it has collected over 112,562 pieces of weapons (including 15,000 pieces from self-defense forces) and destroyed 50,604 pieces collected from thirteen provinces and cities. On July 09, 2001, Cambodia set fire to more than 5,000 pieces of small arms and light weapons in Kampong Chhnang Province, for the 16th time in its kind. This latest activity was held in response to the UN's appeal for a campaign called "Flame for Peace" to commemorate the UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in Its All Aspects, 9-20 July 2001.


International/Re g ional Security Environment


The increasing interdependence among nations has led them to address security issues through dialogue and increased cooperation. Accordingly, the Kingdom of Cambodia has given priority to the securing of a favorable external environment conducive to the long-term sustainable development of the country .Relations of good neighbourhood and multiform cooperation were established with immediate neighbours as well as other countries in the region. The Royal Government also restored and established diplomatic relations with UN member countries.


Cambodia became member of the ARF in 1995, where it actively works for the maintenance and strengthening of peace, stability and security in the Asia Pacific through confidence building. It also actively contributed to the elaboration and adoption of the Concept Paper on the Principles of Preventive Diplomacy (PD).


With regard to the security situation in Southeast Asia, Cambodia fully supports the territorial integrity and national unity of Indonesia. It also welcomes the efforts made in Myanmar towards dialogue that would cement national unity, which is vital for the country .


In Northeast Asia, Cambodia hails the historic Summit between North and South Korea in Pyongyang last year. It is sincerely hoped that this positive momentum could be maintained and lead to durable peace and national reunification of the two parts with the active support of all major powers. 


As member of ASEAN, Cambodia gives much importance to the cooperation with China, Japan and the Republic of Korea in the framework of ASEAN + 3. the Joint Statement on East Asia Cooperation issued at the ASEAN + 3 Summit in Manila in November 1999 has provided a clear direction for cooperation in the new century. It demonstrates the active role of ASEAN in forging cooperation, peace and stability in South and East Asia.


Cambodia hails the successful outcome of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Meeting in Shanghai last June, considering it a great contribution to the enhancement of regional security, stability and development. We welcome the commitment of the Organization to fight cross border crimes, terrorism and religious fanatism.


In South Asia, Cambodia favours the maintenance of the moratorium on nuclear tests by India and Pakistan. The political dialogue at the highest level between the two countries that took place on 14-16 July 2001 gives hope to the relaxation of tension and conducive to lasting peace in the sub-continent.


Taken into account the danger posed by weapons of mass destruction, Cambodia calls for an early ratification by all ARF members of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Cambodia also supports the Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT). At its part, Cambodia ratified the IAEA Safeguards Agreement on 17 December 1999, thus becomes full member of NPT .


The increasing scope and intensity of transnational crimes has expanded the regional security agenda to non-traditional issues, Of particular concern are drug trafficking and related crimes, the trafficking in women and children and the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons. This requires greater regional coordination and cooperation between national law enforcement agencies. Cambodia supports the UN Conference on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) in All Its Aspects that took place on 9-20 July 2001 in the belief that it would contribute to the removal of one serious threat to the security of nations.


As one of the worst victims of landmines, Cambodia signed the Ottawa Convention on Landmines in December 1996 and strongly hopes that all landmine producers and exporters would join in signing and ratifying the Convention, thus banning the production, distribution, sale, transfer, and use of landmines.

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