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Post-2015 Cambodia: A Call for Meaningful Civil Society Participation

Like many countries within the GCAP network, there's a sense in Cambodia that the government is happy to collaborate with civil society when it provides humanitarian assistance and direct services (which are actually the government's responsibility). But when it comes to advocating for new policies, standing up for human rights or playing a watchdog role, it's a different story.

CSOs working in these areas are often "intimidated, warned and even attached with opposition parties and criminal cases," according to one Cambodian activist.  (Read more about GCAP Cambodia's work on this issue.)

To address this gap - and explore the relationship between civil society and government within the broader context of the Post-2015 sustainable development agenda - GCAP's newest national coalition, GCAP Cambodia, facilitated regional workshops followed by a national consultation in Phnom Penh in late May, entitled "Partnership Arrangement and Means of Implementation of the Post-2015 Development Agenda".

Representatives from some 170 organisations - including civil society, trade unions, government agencies, the United Nations and development partners - participated in the discussion, which attracted coverage on television and online news sites.

"Civil society and other development actors need to be treated alike," Soeung Saroeun, executive director of the Cooperation Committee of Cambodia (CCC), which is the focal point for GCAP Cambodia, told the gathering. "We organise the workshop today to amplify the perspectives of CSOs on the post-2015 development of Cambodia and to identify how partnerships can be created and strengthened among all development actors to jointly implement the agenda."

"The government (must) open more space for civil society engagement," added Dr. Sok Thim, CCC's Executive Committee Chairman.

The Cambodian government, though, says it does not discriminate against NGOs. "We always promote partnership with those who wish to improve the livelihoods of Cambodian people," said Leng Vy, Cambodia's Under Secretary of State of the Ministry of Interior.

The Cambodia national consultation produced a number of recommendations, including calls for

  • Good governance
  • Full respect of human rights
  • Genuine and meaningful civil society participation
  • Inclusive and meaningful public participation in planning and decision-making processes
  • Providing channels for people to complain and provide real feedback on project implementation and service delivery
  • Equal access to resources, production systems and markets for all Cambodians, including including small-scale land holders, micro and small entrepreneurs, marginalised communities and the poorest of the poor.
  • The Private Sector to honour national and international Decent Work commitments

Read the full set of recommendations - focusing on Partnership and Implementation - in this communique.

CCC Executive Director Soeung Saroeun at the national consultation:"We (must) amplify the perspectives of CSOs.."

 

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GCAP Cambodia Communique 2014.pdf52.47 KB