A note from the director of the Cambodia office
Our work in Cambodia focuses on the next generation of decision-makers through cooperation with for example universities and judicial training academies.
We have a strong added value in Cambodia. No other organisation implements such a comprehensive programme focusing on human rights education and research at academic institutions.
Keeping in mind the entire educational system was ruined during the Khmer Rouge 1975-79, and the fact that over 70% of the Cambodian population is below 30 years of age, the focus on the next generation of decision-makers is highly relevant.
We initiated small scale cooperation in Cambodia in 2008. Since 2013, we have been implementing a large five-year human rights capacity development programme (2013-2017) aimed at strengthening the environment for human rights promotion and protection in Cambodia.
This is broken down into two sub-goals, which concern strengthening:
• institutional capacities of selected academic institutions to develop and deliver high-quality human rights education and research as well as providing an academic platform for human rights debates and dialogue
• the capacity of strategically selected government institutions to fulfil their obligations in accordance with international human rights standards
Since 2013, we have supported numerous different institutions and have for example provided targeted human rights courses for students and lecturers, supported the development of human rights curricula and syllabi, provided scholarships for human rights studies and fellowships in Cambodia and abroad, supported academic human rights research, supported human rights libraries at universities and translated human rights material from English into Khmer.
• The establishment of a Master Programme in International Human Rights Law in cooperation with Pannasastra University of Cambodia
• The establishment of the Centre for the Studies of Humanitarian Law which is an academic research centre with full-time researchers and a specialised library at the Royal University of Law and Economics
• The development and introduction of compulsory and credited human rights courses into the standard curriculum for all prosecutor, judge and court clerk students at the Royal Academy of Judicial Profession.
• The development and introduction of compulsory and credited human rights courses into the standard curriculum for all lawyer students at Lawyer’s Training Centre.
The Programme was externally reviewed at the end of 2016. The report from the review concluded that:
“…the programme is highly relevant in the Cambodian context, […] it is well managed and effective in delivering output- and outcome results, and […] the office in Phnom Penh has been a central component for the programme’s success to date”.
“The added value of RWI in Cambodia clearly lies in its experience and expertise in supporting academic institutions on human rights and humanitarian law, as well as in its non-monitoring mandate and ability to navigate highly complex political environments. This requires a high degree of analytical capacity, diplomatic skill and principled integrity. With a clear understanding of this organisational identity and added value, RWI has managed to find a unique space in an otherwise overcrowded NGO environment”
The programme and the office is financially supported by Swedish Development Cooperation.