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Public Library Publications Annual Security Outlook 2002 Cambodia


I. An Overview

1. For almost a decade, Cambodia has been able to further develop the country and strengthen national resilience. The country has been fully committed to achieve its main goal of improving economic conditions and ameliorating the well being of its people.

2. Over the years, Cambodia has been able to consolidate peace and strengthen political stability. In February this year, Cambodia successfully organized the first communal council elections in the country. The local elections were observed and recognized by both local and international observers. The success of the local elections marked another important milestone for Cambodia's democracy.

3. Cambodia is committed to the strengthening of the rule of law, which is the cornerstone for the preservation of political stability and for long term and sustainable socio-economic development.

4. Peace in the country could not be long lasting without justice. The Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) has declared its willingness to cooperate with the international community, especially the United Nations, in organizing an appropriate tribunal to prosecute the main perpetrators of the genocidal crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge (KR) Regime. To this effect, amendments were made in its legal system and approved by the National Assembly to enable the participation of international lawyers in the trial.

5. On the economic front, the Royal Government could ensure since 1994 a high macro-economic stability as reflected by a dynamic GDP growth of 7.7 % in 2000 and 6.3% in 2001, a very low inflation rate and a stable national currency. Building upon these strong foundations, the Government has given priority to poverty reduction programmes, rural development and the promotion of quick income generating sectors such as tourism and related service sub- sectors as well as the development and diversification of its nascent light industry .

6. It is at the same time pursuing wide-ranging reforms covering the military, the administration, the judiciary and public finance to anchor the rules of law needed for the long term and sustainable development of the country and attract foreign direct investment (FDI), aid and assistance. Those reforms are part of the institutional capacity building, which includes sustained human resources development (HRD).

7. In recent years, the RGC has launched a general campaign in the first step of demobilization of its armed forces, as well as the collection and destruction of illegal weapons to join the world campaign to promote a culture of peace. With this commitment, the government collected tens of thousands of small arms and light weapons and destroyed many of them in public ceremonies to demonstrate their commitment to peace.

8. In international affairs, Cambodia has given its priority to the strengthening of its role in international relations and the deepening of its commitment to cooperate fully with all partners, especially those partners within ASEAN, ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the ASEAN+3 context, in economic, political and security fields.

II. National Development

9. Since peace has been achieved in the country, the RGC has successfully. completed the registra.tion of 140,693 soldiers of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF). By late 2002, the RGC will further reduce its armed forces to 100,000 soldiers, which brings the total number of soldiers to be demobilized between the period 2000 to 2002, to 31,500. This year alone, the RGC will discharge 15,000 soldiers. In 2000, 1500 soldiers were demobilized in the pilot phase. In 2001, the government demobilized 15,000 soldiers.

10. 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 (UNCAR) and making Cambodia's arms acquisition transparent.

11. In addition, Cambodia's Ministry of National Defense issued the Defense White Paper, which was officially released on 20 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.

12. 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, and to eliminate their illegal procurement and sales by destroying those seized arms. So far it has collected over 115,154 pieces of weapons and tens of tons of explosives and ammunitions, and destroyed 83,855 pieces of weapons by crushing and burning. On July 9, 2001, Cambodia set fire to more than 5,000 pieces of small arms and light weapon. Cambodia made concerted efforts to cope with such a matter setting up a number of approaches to reform the management of weapons and explosives focusing primarily on the reduction of the quantity of weapons, registration and construction of safe depots, process of dissemination of information to national and international public and the appeal for contributive support of the reform policy of the RGC, and intensification of security in general. These activities was also 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," which was held on 9-20 July 2001.

13. Moreover, the RGC, in close cooperation with the Government of Canada, successfully co-hosted an ARF Workshop on "Conventional Weapons Transfers" in Phnom Penh on 21-22 February 2001. The workshop made a list of recommendations on Conventional Weapons Transfer and Armed Registration and has been submitted to the Inter-Sessional Support Group on Confidence Building Measures (ISG on CBMs) in Kuala Lumpur to endorse and resubmit it to the ARF SOM in Hanoi in May 2001.

III. Regional/International Security Environment

14. The increasing interdependence among nations and the changing notion of security since the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States have led the RGC to addres.s security issues through increased dialogue and cooperation. Accordingly, Cambodia has given priority to securing a favorable external environment conducive to the long-term sustainable development of the country. Relations of good neighborhood and multiform cooperation were established with immediate neighbors, as well as other countries in the region. The RGC has also restored and established diplomatic relations with UN member countries.

15. With regard to the security situation in Southeast Asia, Cambodia fully supports the territorial integrity and national unity of Indonesia and expresses its hope for stability and economic prosperity in Indonesia for the sake of durable peace and development in the region. It also welcomes the efforts made in Myanmar towards dialogue that would cement national unity, which is vital for the country. It reiterates its support for the building of an independent state of East Timor and welcomes the declaration of Independence of State of East Timor on 20 May 2002, which contributes to peace, stability, and security in the region.

16. Cambodia hails the success of the visit of President Kim Dae Jung's Special Envoy to Pyongyang in March, followed by the agreement to resume dialogue between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Republic of Korea (ROK), and the implementation of the family reunion process, which took place in DPRK in late April 2002. It is sincerely hoped that this positive momentum could be maintained for the enhancement of the inter- Korean reconciliation and cooperation in keeping up with the spirit of the 15 June North-South Joint Declaration. Cambodia also emphasizes the importance of holding the second Inter-Korean Summit in the near future, which would lead to a durable peace and national reunification of the two countries with the active support of all major powers.

17. Taking 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). For its part, Cambodia ratified the IAEA Safeguards Agreement on 17 December 1999, thus becoming a full member of NPT. Cambodia also hails the signing of an Agreement between the United States and Russia in late May 2002 to further reduce their nuclear arsenals.

18. 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.

19. 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.

20. Cambodia places its strategic importance on participating in all regional endeavors aimed at establishing and ensuring a national and international environment of security, peace and stability, which constitutes the instrumental foundation for sustainable development and prosperity of the people.

21. Post September 11th, there have been many discussions on various issues related to terrorism, including the root causes, strategies for combating terrorism, and implications of terrorism at national, regional and global levels. There is no doubt that terrorists will continue their action around the world; and many nations have, and will continue, to engage in counter- terrorism actions. In this context, Cambodia wishes to share views on what areas we should engage in jointly, both regionally and internationally, in order to avoid further tragedies and violence.

22. Cambodia believes that military action is not the only viable option. One should look to other options, such as political, economic, social and cultural dimensions. In other words, we need to understand the root causes of terrorism. This approach is vital in mobilizing world opinions and global efforts against terrorism.

23. To eliminate terrorism we must address its root causes. One of the root causes of terrorism is the increasing poverty in developing countries and the widening gap between the rich and the poor at national, regional and global levels. Aggravated by globalization, therefore, one way of eliminating the sources of terrorism is to fight poverty and to promote development in those societies where citizens remain vulnerable to recruitment into terrorist networks.

24. In this regard, more international attention and financial resources should be spent on poverty reduction programs around the world. An overall increase in the standard of living would significantly contribute to the fight against terrorism. Contributions to the fight against poverty include the realization of the U.N. Millennium Declaration in 2000 and the commitments made by the G8 leaders.

 IV. Cambodia's Fight Against Terrorism

25. Cambodia has played its role in the fight against terrorism. In fact, Cambodia has been also the victim of terrorist attacks as well, although on a

smaller scale. In November 2000, Cambodia was attacked by a group of terrorists, the so-called Cambodian Freedom Fighters (CFF).

26. Since the September 11th terrorist attacks, Cambodia has been fully cooperating with the United States in sharing information and intelligence, in controlling financial transactions which may lead to the terrorist networks, and in providing U.S aircraft's access to its airspace to aid in their mission in the region. Cambodia's commitment to combating terrorism has been unequivocally clear.

27. In addition, Cambodia had ratified four international conventions, which are relevant to the fight against terrorism and signed one convention on the suppression- of financing for terrorism. Cambodia is also in the process. of acceding to seven other key international conventions, which are essential steps in combating terrorism, not only in Cambodia but also in the region. Cambodia also believes that the win-win policy in combating terrorism at national, regional and international levels could be a solution to eliminate terrorism. We should explore all other possible options in the crusade against global terrorism. An overall Convention on terrorism derived from the World Summit organized by the United Nations, is absolutely necessary for the whole world to join hands and combat terrorism.

V. The Role of ASEAN and the ARF in Security Cooperation

28. Both ASEAN and ARF could do more to playa meaningful role in the evolving security cooperation in the Asia Pacific, especially in addressing the growing challenges of transnational issues such as terrorism. ASEAN has clearly condemned the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, as specified in the Declaration on Combating Terrorism at the 7th ASEAN Summit in Brunei in November 2001. In addition, the ARF Chairman issued a statement in support of the fight against terrorism following the terrorist attacks on the United States. In December 2001, ASEAN and the Unit_ed States held a bilateral dialogue in Washington, D.C, which focused mainly on the need to combat terrorism.

29. At the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Retreat in Phuket in February 2002, the fight against terrorism was one of the topics of discussion. ASEAN is very much conscious of the fact that terrorism is a real threat to the region as whole. We are also determined to deepen cooperation and reaffirm political commitment in the fight against terrorism. Terrorism is an international problem with globalized networks. This means that there is a need for an effective global approach to fight terrorism.

Therefore, the ARF has an important role in the Asia-Pacific security policy. We need to strengthen proactive measures among the ARF members.

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