Remarks by HRH Samdech Norodom Sirivudh in New Delhi



Norodom Sirivudh

Founder and Chairman

Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace

Delhi Dialogue IV

February 13-14, 2012


Ladies and Gentlemen:

Allow me at the outset to express my most sincere and wholehearted gratitude to the co-organizers for inviting me here. It is my great honor and privilege to be here to humbly share with you my thoughts on the emerging regional security issues and adaptation mechanism.

The prolonged civil war has taught Cambodia many valuable lessons, among which peace needs to be earned in a win-win situation. To solve any conflicts, first of all we need to build trust and relationship based on which mutual understanding can be developed. Conflicts are generally caused by miscommunication and miscalculation. As long as we keep our communication channel open and lively then we can reduce and avoid conflicts. However, if the conflict cannot be avoided, then we need to use all available mechanisms including both bilateral and multilateral to find solution to the problem. In addition to this, preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution mechanism are necessary to maintain peace and stability in the region.

Cambodia is proud to share her experiences and expertise in conflict management, resolution, peacekeeping and peace building with our regional friends. Cambodia has been transformed itself from a recipient of peacekeeping forces to the sender of peacekeeping forces; from the victim of landmines to be the global leader in campaigning against landmines; and from inward looking defense policy to outward oriented defense diplomacy and cooperation especially under the ASEAN framework such as ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM) and ADMM Plus, ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and other security related working group and expert meetings.

As far as our cooperation with the ASEAN’s dialogue partners is concerned, Cambodia has effectively cooperated with Australia, China, Japan, and the United States. We have three levels of security cooperation and dialogue with Australia namely strategic policy dialogue (SPD), defense cooperation working group (DCWG), and Security Cooperation Coordination Group (SCCG). With China, we have cooperation mainly through training and logistic support. Annually, we send 100 military and civilian personnel to get training, both short and long term. China provided 43 million Yuan worth of military equipment in 2009, 120 million Yuan in 2010, and 107 million Yuan in 2011. With Japan, we have an annual military-military consultation meeting. With the United States, we have three levels of security cooperation and dialogue namely defense policy dialogue (DPD), bilateral defense discussion (BDD), and Security Cooperation Coordination Group (SCCG).

Our region has been facing dynamic security changes coming from both traditional and non-traditional security challenges and uncertainties. At this juncture, Cambodia is hosting ASEAN summit, East Asia Summit, ASEAN Regional Forum, ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting, and other relevant meetings to strengthen the central role of ASEAN in realizing the three pillars of its community: ASEAN Economic Community, ASEAN Political Security Community, and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.

ASEAN has gone through and been tested for more than four decades since its establishment back in 1967. ASEAN has transformed itself to be a driving force in shaping regional architecture in the region with openness and inclusivism. Such expanded regionalism ASEAN is undertaking contributes significantly to the role of ASEAN in managing regional conflicts especially in neutralizing emerging strategic competition among superpowers in the region through the provision of a dynamic equilibrium and strategic hedging diplomacy.

Confidence building measures in the Asia Pacific Region has been and will be centered on ASEAN’s core or hub.  ASEAN unity is the key to all the problems in the region since we share the same destiny that is common regional goods: peace, stability, and development. No country in the region wishes to see conflict, confrontation, and instability because they are so much interdependent and intertwined on each other. However, extreme nationalism plus strategic miscalculation can lead to unintended security consequences.

I am of the view that defense diplomacy in our region has been improved remarkably under ASEAN centered security cooperation mechanism because ASEAN has not been and will never be a threat to any country in the region. ASEAN is always regarded as a moderator and mediator of various regional conflicts including the increasing competition and tensions among the superpower in the region.

As Cambodia is chairing ASEAN this year, Cambodia is committed to be an effective and neutral mediator of international issues including the North Korean issue, South China Sea, and other human security issues such as natural disaster relief, counter terrorism, peace keeping and demining, international migration and human trafficking, and climate change.

The recent Cambodia-Thailand border conflict and the tensions in the South China Sea demand us to work harder to ensure peace and security in the region. So far we have achieved a lot in terms of providing guidelines and principles of defense cooperation in different fields under the framework of ASEAN Regional Forum, East Asia Summit, and ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM Plus). Such inclusive and open regional defense cooperation significantly can maintain and strengthen strategic trust and confidence in the region. We work together to reach common position on common issues based on shared interests.

So far we have five key areas of practical cooperation within the framework of ADMM Plus namely: Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief, Maritime Security, Counter-Terrorism, Peacekeeping Operations, and Military Medicine.  The ASEAN Regional Forum is stuck with confidence building measures and moves very slowly towards preventive diplomacy and approaches to conflict. The East Asia Summit is a place of creating mutual understanding only not to solve the conflict.

I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some of the key emerging security issues that Cambodia views as important for discussion and elaboration.

1.   Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR)

Natural disasters have become our main security concern as we are witnessing more frequent disastrous natural hazards together with climate change with higher impacts on human security. Disaster management is a top priority for our region.

The recent flooding in Southeast Asia has alerted us to take more precautionary acts to reduce the damages and establish a practical approach to enhance regional cooperation on disaster rapid response.  The ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response Work Program 2010-2015 and the ASEAN Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management-AHA Center are the key framework for regional cooperation but it needs to take into account the roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders including the role of the armed forces.

It is necessary to have clear guidelines for engagement of the armed forces in disaster relief and humanitarian assistance. Coordination at the national and regional levels is crucial to provide a timely and effective response to disasters. For the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), training and capacity building, structural management, and rapid response mechanism are being implemented and strengthened. Special engineering unity and mobile medicine have been undertaking steps to improve their capacity in the framework civil-military relations.

Recently RCAF has conducted joint military exercises and trainings plus scenario setting and table exercises with some countries in the region including the United States to increase the capacity of RCAF in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR). Cambodia also actively participates in the ADMM Plus Working Group on HADR, which is co-chaired by China and Vietnam.

2.   Maritime Security Cooperation and Governance

Maritime security cooperation has been one of the most important and complex security issues since sea trade has been increasing dramatically in the region together with the increase of non-traditional security threats such as piracy, smuggling, natural disasters, terrorism, human trafficking, and environmental and biodiversity degradation.

The role of Maritime Security forces in Southeast Asian region has undergone significant changes in recent years though its traditional raison d’être remains unchanged. While the maritime forces are in the process of evolving with enhanced capacities, improved capabilities and inventorial assets the principal role of the navies continues to be that of strengthening national defense and enhancing the deterrence factor.

The rise of non-military operations has come to the fore and activities such as traditional   constabulary and policing functions have expanded beyond the mere protection of resources within the EEZs (Exclusive Economic Zones) to include law enforcement tasks against maritime terrorism, piracy and armed robbery etc.

The established diplomatic and benign naval roles for “common good” have expanded to include various forms of HADR (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief) operations (inclusive of nuclear power plant accidents and natural calamities) that are being given equal importance by many littorals. Hence prima facie maritime security forces are being used more often to support humanitarian relief missions beyond national waters, leveraging confidence-building measures and for projecting maritime influence.

Concerning South China Sea issue, it is necessary to have a regional code of conduct (COC). Recently there is remarkable improvement in strengthening both bilateral and multilateral dialogues on the South China Sea. The adoption of the guidelines of Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) is a promising step towards the full implementation of the guideline in order to maintain peace, stability, and development in the region. We welcome the creation of the working group of COC and the strong support from China to work with this working group to realize COC in the near future.

On the issue of the Gulf of Thailand, it is necessary that Cambodia and Thailand can reach an agreement on the joint exploration, exploitation, and development in the overlapping zones. Such model of cooperation can be applied to the South China Sea as well.

3.   Peacekeeping Operation and Responsibility to Protect

Based on Bali Concord III on “ASEAN Community in a Global Community of Nations”, it requires ASEAN leaders to have “a more coordinated, cohesive, and coherent ASEAN position on global issues of common interest and concern, based on a shared ASEAN global view, which would further enhance ASEAN’s common voice in relevant multilateral forum”. In such context, peacekeeping operation and responsibility to protect can be our common diplomatic tool and advantage on the global stage. ASEAN can contribute human resources and expertise regarding these two issues since we have experienced and learned from our region.

So far Cambodia has sent 995 peacekeeping forces (both men and women) to Sudan, Central Africa, Chad Republic and Lebanon under the United Nations Peacekeeping Operation. Our forces are responsible of demining mission, engineering, administration and public order. For the overseas military training and exercises, we have sent 244 to Mongolia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Thailand. At home, we have successfully organized Angkor Sentinel for two times; one in 2010 with the participation of 1,555 personnel and the other one in 2011 with the participation of 505 personnel.

In regional context, Cambodia has been very active in supporting ASEAN Peacekeeping Center and ready to share Cambodian experiences and expertise with the ASEAN colleagues in this field. Cambodia will proposes to ASEAN friends to support the establishment of ASEAN Demining Center in Cambodia as part of peacekeeping and humanitarian effort.

In addition, Cambodia has a unique role to contribute to the region and the world at large with regards to the issue of Responsibility to Protect since Cambodia experienced the RtoP Crimes and learned how to prevent the crimes in the future.

The Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) was unanimously adopted by world leaders at the 2005 World Summit.  Governments recognized their primary responsibility to protect their own populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and promised to assist each other to fulfill this responsibility and to protect populations when governments manifestly failed to do so. As agreed by UN Member States, the RtoP concept rests on three equally important and non-sequential pillars: First, the responsibility of the state to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, and from their incitement.

Second, the international community’s responsibility to assist the state to fulfill its responsibility to protect. Third, in situations where a state has manifestly failed to protect its population from the four crimes, the international community’s responsibility to take timely and decisive action through peaceful diplomatic and humanitarian means and, if that fails, other more forceful means in a manner consistent with Chapters VI (pacific measures), VII (enforcement measures) and VIII (regional arrangements) of the UN Charter.

The principles of RtoP are first, RtoP is consistent with the principle of non-interference enumerated in the UN Charter (Article 2(7)) and the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC); Second, RtoP does not impose any new legal obligations upon states or widen the legal scope for interference in the domestic affairs of states; Third, Prevention is the single most important element of the RtoP.

RtoP is best served by helping states to build the capacity to prevent the four crimes from being committed in the first place.  Thus, RtoP helps strengthen sovereignty by enabling states to fulfill their sovereign responsibilities.

It is therefore necessary for ASEAN to think about how to create a network of ASEAN RtoP as part of Peace Keeping Operations in order to prevent the commission of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity in Southeast Asia through dialogue and to examine the contribution that Southeast Asia might make to the UN’s efforts to prevent these crimes globally.

4.   Security Sector Governance and Security Sector Reform (SSG-SSR)

Since the precarious transition from war to peace in the early 1990s, Cambodia has been confronted with a number of serious challenges related to its security sector, ranging from the integration of former warring factions into the state security apparatus to the professionalization and modernisation of its security forces and the establishment of effective management and oversight mechanisms. Gradual reforms have been undertaken in the recent past, particularly in the area of military reform and civil-military relations. Yet, if the Cambodian government wants to realise its declared objective of ensuring the country’s sustainable development and democratic consolidation, the improvement of security sector governance (SSG) through security sector reform (SSR) remains a key issue to be addressed.

Although the security sector has unique characteristics given its central role in guaranteeing the state’s legitimate monopoly on the use of force, it nonetheless shares many common characteristics with other areas of public service delivery and should therefore – as former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan put it – ‘be subject to the same standards of efficiency, equity and accountability as any other [public] service’. Since the Cambodian government has embarked on a policy of gradual and continuous reform of its wider public service, it is indispensable to include the security sector in the national reform policy and to consider SSR as an appropriate tool to enhance the effectiveness, efficiency and accountability of the armed forces, the police and the other security services.

The transformation and development of a country’s security sector has to be pursued in the broader context of its overarching political, economic and social reforms. The UN Secretary-General’s report on SSR recognizes that “security sector reform cannot be isolated from other national strategies and priorities” and encourages Member States to address SSR in a coherent and comprehensive manner, central to their broader national reform efforts and on the basis of “a through and broadly inclusive assessment of national security needs”. The latter point clearly refers to the fact that SSR is intimately linked to the development of national security policies as they articulate the priorities for national and human security and the capacities required to meet them. Consequently, national security policies should be considered as important strategic “entry-points” for engaging in and guiding SSR.

SSG-SSR is the foundation of military reform in the region and it is part of regional cooperation efforts to promote security through security sector governance and reform as we are implementing the ASEAN Charter and in the process of ASEAN democratization.

First, we need to strengthen national and regional measures aimed at rebuilding, restructuring and reforming the security apparatus and the relevant justice institutions. The activities can include, among others, partial reforms such as defense reform, intelligence reform, police reform, border security reform, judicial and prison reform. Second, we need to have measures aimed at strengthening civilian management and democratic oversight of the security apparatus and the relevant justice institutions. The activities can include, among others, reforms of the relevant ministries and their management capacities, the parliament and its relevant committees as well as the relevant judicial oversight bodies.

5.   Disarmament and Non-Proliferation

The reduction and elimination of all types of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons is an integral part of the global nonproliferation regime and it remains one of our regional security concerns.  In our region we have the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone, which guide our security and strategic policy and diplomacy.

Nevertheless, we need to further promote improved verification and transparency and increased political will to move toward the complete elimination of nuclear weapons in a wider region and the world at large. We need to improve international normative-legal-enforcement framework, advancing national-level initiatives, and developing a better understanding of the disarmament process through education and public awareness.

Regarding nuclear disbarment issue, Nuclear Weapons States (NWS) should take actions to reduce perceptions of the utility and usability of nuclear weapons as step toward “delegitimizing their use, to include adoption of “no first use” policies, ending policies of “calculated ambiguity,” and changing military postures to reflect reduced reliance on nuclear weapons.

NWS and non-NWS (NNWS) should together study steps to achieve the goal of global denuclearization. In support of this effort, governments should pursue public outreach and education on the threats posed by WMD proliferation and the value of nonproliferation and disarmament efforts.

NWS should provide assistance to NNWS to ensure they have the ability to disarm and disable a nuclear weapon they may capture on their own territory, and should ensure that their own disarmed weapons are safely and securely destroyed, not just disabled.

6.   Regional Security Architecture

As we are facing more emerging security issues and our regional security architecture is squarely weak, we need to strengthen our regional security institution by mapping out different roles and responsibilities of the different existing regional security mechanisms and then synergize their roles in order to reduce overlapping area and increase the effectiveness and functionality of the existing institutions.

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