Prime Minister Hun Sen says Cambodia has been actively engaging with all countries within both regional and international diplomacy frameworks to promote peace, stability and prosperity.
In a public address marking the International Day of Peace on September 21, he said that as the chair of ASEAN this year, Cambodia has been steering the bloc through numerous unprecedented challenges, in line with the theme “ASEAN ACT: Addressing Challenges Together”.
As the theme suggests, the premier said Cambodia has spearheaded the mission while continuing to build the ASEAN community, promote ASEAN centrality, build regional structures and expand cooperation with partners to contribute to the maintenance of peace, stability, security and sustainable development in and outside of ASEAN.
“As peace, unity and harmony among ASEAN member countries are fundamentally important, Cambodia has made significant efforts to help find a solution for the Myanmar crisis based on a pragmatic approach through the five-point consensus to help the country return to normalcy and allow ASEAN to return to the unity of having 10 fully participating members,” Hun Sen said.
Hun Sen stressed that, under the auspices of the UN, Cambodia has been actively contributing to world peacekeeping cooperation since 2006. Cambodia has sent a total of 8,302 troops on UN peacekeeping missions in nine countries, including Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, Central African Republic (CAR), Lebanon, Cyprus, Syria, Mali and Yemen.
According to Hun Sen, there are currently 801 Cambodian troops on peacekeeping missions in South Sudan, Lebanon, Mali, CAR and Yemen.
He said he strongly believes that this year’s celebration of International Peace Day reflects the greater will and commitment of the government and the people of Cambodia to promote the values of peace, cooperation and mutual respect regardless of race, colour or religion in order to build a world of peace, resilience and environmentally sustainable development.
Hun Sen recalled that the 1991 Paris Peace Agreements and the presence of the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) to organise the 1993 general election had indeed contributed to paving the way for peace in the country, but it did not absolutely end the war.
He stressed that Cambodia achieved comprehensive peace in 1998 through his “win-win policy” which eventually saw Khmer Rouge soldier reintegration. Now with the benefits of peace and national unity, the government and the people of Cambodia have worked hard to restore and rebuild the country and have made progress that they are proud of in all areas.
“Obviously, Cambodia has moved from a low-income country to a low-middle-income nation and is striving to achieve its development vision to become a high-middle-income country by 2030 and a high-income country by 2050,” he said.
Thong Mengdavid, a research fellow at the Mekong Centre for Strategic Studies at the Asian Vision Institute, said peace as an end unto itself is one of the core political concepts of Hun Sen’s ideological foundation and is something that the government is absolutely committed to maintaining.
Mengdavid added that Cambodia is a country that has gone through much and gained a lot of experience from war and conflict and therefore it is committed to protecting the national peace and security for the benefit, prosperity, development and security of its people.
Cambodia has been leading the ASEAN community this past year and has been vocal about addressing regional security issues such as Myanmar, the South China Sea and other less high-profile security issues, he told The Post.
“All these activities under the leadership of [Hun Sen] aim to push and promote diplomacy to show Cambodia’s commitment to maintaining world peace, which is also proven by the Kingdom’s commitment to sending Cambodian troops on UN peacekeeping missions,” he said.