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Our work in Cambodia


In August 2023, after 38 years in power, Hun Sen stepped down as Prime Minister of Cambodia, only to appoint his son, Hun Manet, to the post. However, because he remains president of the Cambodian People’s Party, Hun Sen is expected to continue wielding significant power. As one of the world’s most enduring political dynasties, the Huns have clung to power for decades by eliminating all serious opposition that could jeopardize their reign. They are supported by family members and loyalists who hold key positions in all important sectors of the state machinery including various ministries, the army, the police and even the media and charities. They ensure the regime’s longevity through propaganda, political donations and the use of force. This system, which removes all separation between the executive, judiciary and legislature, serves the ruling oligarchy well.

A series of draconian laws enacted and planned over the past decade have been designed to silence dissent in Cambodia. This has led to the arrest of opposition leaders, trade unionists, environmentalists, and human rights defenders.
Expropriating the smallholdings of vulnerable peasant farmers, the government keeps granting concessions to agricultural and mining corporations, sparking conflicts over land rights.

Our work in Cambodia

Axe thématique : Démocratie et participation citoyenne | Area of focus: Democracy and citizen participation icon
Democracy and citizen participation
Climat et justice écologique | Climate and ecological justice icon
Ecological justice
Justice pour les femmes | Justice for women icon
Justice for women
Paix et réconciliation | Peace and rconciliation
Peace and reconciliation

Cambodia was one of the first Asian countries where Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada began working. In 1980, following the Vietnam War and the Khmer Rouge regime, a consortium of CIDSE members from Australia, Canada, Europe and New Zealand established a Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam-Indochina Program (CIDSE-CLV) with an office in Phnom Penh. By 2005, that office was no longer needed because a local Cambodian organization had taken over the country’s programming.

Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada currently partners with various Cambodian organizations, with a programmatic focus on democracy and citizen participation. Our partners support the mobilization of youths, women, and communities, mainly from minority groups including peasant and Indigenous communities and persons with disabilities.

Examples of our partners’ activities include:

  • Mobilizing communities to become involved in and take ownership of their development and to drive it in inclusive and gender-sensitive directions

  • Knowledge sharing to strengthen communities in the areas of food sovereignty and security, income generation and disaster resilience

  • Advocacy with local authorities and government agencies to create an environment conducive to gender equality and rural development

  • Promoting inclusiveness and gender-sensitivity and educating communities to end domestic violence

  • Working with Indigenous peoples to empower them for safeguarding, promoting their culture, asserting their human rights, pursuing sustainable socioeconomic development and improving their living conditions

What is next in our work?

We will continue working with the most marginalized populations to create robust and sustainable development structures with the participation of women. With over 65 per cent of Cambodians being under 30, we will also continue working with our partners to help young people develop critical thinking skills; to empower them to exercise their civil and political rights; and to equip them for social action in their communities.


Video image: Message from Chan Ramy
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Video image: People and Planet First! Cambodia and Honduras
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