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Conflict resolution and rural Cambodia. A way of thinking about an ideal, peaceful state A device for exploring how close we are to ‘peace’ A way of appreciating.

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Presentation on theme: "Conflict resolution and rural Cambodia. A way of thinking about an ideal, peaceful state A device for exploring how close we are to ‘peace’ A way of appreciating."— Presentation transcript:

1 Conflict resolution and rural Cambodia

2 A way of thinking about an ideal, peaceful state A device for exploring how close we are to ‘peace’ A way of appreciating  the importance of conflict  the poverty of our understanding

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4  looking back to 1992-3 UN intervention  impact of privileging state development  a wealthy, exploitative elite  culture of impunity  suppression of the poor and the weak  is this what we planned and paid for?

5  poorest country in SE Asia  70% of population in rural  30% of them very poor  many marginalised: women, landless, indigenous people

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7  ‘subsistence’ farmers  villages remote, autarchic  distrust of state  ‘between temple and forest’ – cosmological setting

8  strong preference for village resolution  courts routinely corrupt, expensive, remote  culture of impunity

9  to address village problems  typically (domestic) violence, gangs, local land disputes  to manage a long tradition of violence

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11  to maintain village harmony  to provide venue for change  to provide support for changes to structures that maintain inequality

12  changes needed now well understood  access to ways to challenge structural inequalities

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15 Critical backgrounds

16 Contexts of conflict in Cambodia  cultural / political / econ  historical / cosmological  geographical: neighbours  regional / national

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18  Intensely hierarchical  King as cosmological centre  Khsae – strings reaching across the kingdom / neo-patrimonialism /

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21  everyone in a hierarchy  everyone in relationship  importance of patrons in providing safety net  patrons provide backing in conflict resolution processes

22  everyone knows their place  reinforcers ubiquitous  all but family negotiable  political allegiances fit well  reciprocation of favours

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24 Conflict resolution formal and informal systems

25 Village level  chief / ‘father’ (mother)  enforceable / social forces  unequals but accepted  somroh somruel – to achieve a happy agreement

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27 Beyond the village  courts  remote  expensive  dangerous  manipulated by the powerful

28 Parallel to courts  King and okya (rich courtiers) - closed system  appeal direct to the King

29 protestors outside Hun Sen’s house begging for PM’s influence

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31 UTOPIAS – mental constructs of what might be and some realities

32  France – mission civilisatrice  Sihanouk – independence  USA – democratic Vietnam  Khmer Rouge – radical communist  UN – a peaceful Cambodia

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34 2,756,941 tons of bombs

35 An undated photograph shows forced laborers digging canals in Kampong Cham province, part of the massive agrarian infrastructure the Khmer Rouge planned for the country.

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38 An incumbent government (SOC) was being asked to surrender power, an armed insurgency…was being asked to disarm itself, and both were being asked to take part in what for most Cambodians were novel democratic processes.

39 All of this was to be overseen by 16,000 troops and 7,000 civilian personnel from more than 100 countries (34 troop providers) estimated $3 billion…

40  Demobilize 200,000 soldiers in 650 locations (with 250,000 militia in almost every village)  begin clearing 6 to 10 million landmines  repatriate 360,000 refugees  supervise the existing administration to ensure `free and fair elections', register 4.7 million voters, oversee elections at 1,400 polling stations,  instil civic values and a respect for human rights begin ‘the enormous task of reconstruction and rehabilitation’ (Doyle, 1995, 45).

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42 Many of these were new undertakings for the UN, and all had to be accomplished within an 18-month period. It is not surprising, then, that, in retrospect, Gareth Evans, Australian Foreign Minister and one of the main initiators of the peace plan, should describe the mandate as `overly ambitious and in some respects clearly not achievable' (1994, 27). from Miall, H., O. Ramsbotham, et al. (1999). Contemporary conflict resolution : the prevention, management and transformation of deadly conflicts. Malden, Mass., Polity Press. P 192-193

43  sought to solve the macro international conflict  ignored history / culture / traditions  lack of background research  primitive awareness of conflict  default: rebuild the state

44  result: another version of traditional extractive elite  failed to establish legal protections – despite structures  re-opened country to regional and global economic forces

45  one party state – Cambodian Peoples party (CPP  longest-serving strongman  neo-patrimonialism  creating a favour network beyond state structures

46  CPP needs largesse to distribute  selling the country / ‘rents’  legal impunity  impacts on poor /development  CPP success at elections

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48  meanwhile UNDP long term work on decentralisation of decision-making  increased access to dispute resolution / training / education  result: increased awareness / satisfaction

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50  money from CPP khsae overshadows formal development  so focus on visible symbols: temples and schools - but not teacher salaries - corruptions

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52 Land concessions (ELCs)  brutal dispossession  murder / arrests / threats Widespread discontent  direct approaches to ‘king’  direct action / mass action

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54 Aid flows / aid architecture / conflict

55  UNDP / World Bank (WB) programs  hundreds / thousands of  intergovernmental program  local / supported NGOs

56 Development theory now  extensive local research  critical nature of justice (J4P) / poverty traps / migration / importance of health  importance of dispute resolution in addressing issues in all of this

57  stable ‘government’ / CPP  contradictions - national processes that derail local progress  creating instabilit y / conflict across the country

58  UNDP persistent role in local structural development  good level of satisfaction with new decision-making power  greater awareness of rights  appreciation of stability (old)

59  now (again) functional conflict resolution at grass roots  dysfunctional conflict resolution at national level despite structures in place  problems when they meet

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63 Hindsight and learnings

64  what else could have been done?  what have we learnt?

65  research (but special case)  focus on the local  assumed long-term  greater focus on accountability

66  interconnected world  global and regional inputs  constructive  destructive

67  regional coalitions / regional depredations  regional courts or accountabilities

68  critical role of conflict in social development  Westerners and their assumptions of protected conflict

69 Donors (taxpayers / donors)  awareness of what is being done with our money  awareness of need to strengthen processes to hold people to account  failure creates conflict

70  conflict resolution development inevitably creates conflict  access to justice systems for poor and marginalized is crucial for overall development

71  need to develop awareness of ‘compassionate donors’ and taxpayers re conflict  need to develop and extend formal accountability processes

72  need to increase appreciation of positive aspects of conflict  need to develop our understanding of role of conflict in change

73 Charity is no substitute for justice withheld


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