Our work in Cambodia focuses on the young generation; future leaders and decision-makers in companies, politics, and in administration. To reach this group, we collaborate closely with universities, research centres, and judicial training academies.
“The programme adds great value in Cambodia and has a strong focus on human rights education and research at academic institutions”, says Ali Al-Nasani, new RWI Director of Office in Cambodia since early 2020.
Focusing on the next generation in Cambodia is key. More than two thirds of the Cambodian population is below 30 years of age. Also, the country still suffers from the entire educational system having been ruined during the Khmer Rouge period 1975-1979.
With our activities in Cambodia, RWI works to help a number of selected academic institutions develop and deliver high-quality human rights education and research. We also support them in creating and providing an academic platform for human rights debates and dialogue, which is key to democratic development.
“For many years, RWI has successfully established a human rights education programme at Cambodian universities. Coming from a human rights background myself, I was happy to take over the position as Director of the Cambodia Office in 2020. Building on the successful work of my predecessors at RWI, we currently support five universities and provide scholarships targeting in particular young female law students coming from vulnerable families. We fund translation of educational material from English into Khmer, and publish human rights material in Khmer. We also provide grants for research and support libraries in developing their human rights sections.”
Just when Al-Nasani started at the Cambodia office, Covid-19 started spreading:
“We rapidly had to adjust activities, plans, and forecasts. But, I am happy to say that our team managed to turn challenges into opportunities and we all learned a lot while moving forward”.
Al-Nasani thinks back at some of the most interesting things that happened during 2020:
“I believe that that one of the highlights, was the online conference on business and human rights with international participation and highly qualified contributions from panelists and participants”, he says.
Prior to joining RWI, Al-Nasani led the Phnom Penh office of a German foundation promoting women’s rights and gender equality in Cambodia.
“During those years, I learned that it is important to create a programme that includes different groups and stakeholders. Diversity is the key to success.” Al-Nasani says.
In the past, he has also worked for Amnesty International as well as the respective Human Rights Committees in the European Parliament and in the German Parliament.
“Now, I am looking forward to taking up new activities with RWI Cambodia such as LGBTIQ+ rights or the cooperation with the Indigenous Peoples Lawyer Groups”, he says and concludes.
“We’ve been operating in Cambodia since 2013. Our main aim is still the same; to implement a human rights capacity development programme that strengthens the environment for human rights promotion and protection in Cambodia.”
Ali Al-Nasani, Director of the Cambodia Office