Your Royal Highnesses,
It is a great honor and pleasure for me to address this13th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement. I bring you all the warmest greetings of His Majesty Norodom Sihanouk, the King of Cambodia, and the good wishes of the people and the Royal Government of Cambodia. His Majesty the King was one of the main architects of the creation of the Non-Aligned Movement, and he continues to be deeply interested in the Movement’s vitality.
At the outset, as leader of the delegation of the Kingdom of Cambodia, I extend our heartfelt congratulations to H.E. Dr. Mahatir Mohamad on his assumption of the Chairmanship of this important XIII Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Today, please allow me to share with you some views on global developments and the Non-Aligned Movement’s role in the world order and affairs. Finally, with your permission, I will also provide an update on developments in Cambodia.
At this Summit, we meet to chart a common vision and path in ensuring the reconstruction and development of the nations of the South. We bear the grave responsibility for soul-searching as we chart our common future. In this context, let us focus on the key essentials that shall set our Movement on its rightful course. We do not need big, long drawn-out and resource-wasting conferences to complete the task before us. Nor do we need volumes of position papers. We need only to trust our immense collective knowledge, and heed our experiences and the lessons of the past as well to understand the common interest of our people now and in the future in order to set the directions, action plans that we must jointly elaborate.
From the outset, Cambodia has been an active member of the Non-Aligned Movement. Cambodia is committed to cementing our bonds with other member countries as together we strive to throw off the shackles of economic backwardness and boldly assert our right to be prosperous and dignified nations. Today, at this podium, I once again affirm our commitment to the founding principles of the Movement and reiterate our continuing belief in the validity of the Movement’s principles!Cambodia supports the Movement’s continuing struggle to build a more humane and equitable world order and to promote the greater democratization of international relations.
A Regrettable Event
Over the past year, the people and Royal Government of Cambodia, with great honor and pride, have hosted a large number of historic international events. These events include: the First Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) Summit, the 8th ASEANand related Summits – including the ASEAN Plus Three and Plus One Summits, the ASEAN Plus India Summit and the Special ASEAN-South Africa Meeting. Just recently, Cambodia successfully hosted the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF). Soon we will host other major meetings such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).
With these events, the message that the Royal Government of Cambodia has sent to the rest of the world is that, first and foremost, Cambodia has undergone a profound transformation from a region of uncertainty, turmoil, war, civil strife, instability and backwardness to become an epicenter of peace, safety and social order, prosperity, cooperation and progress, achieved by our own strong efforts and determined sacrifice. This is indeed a uniquely historic, highly laudable and noteworthy accomplishment, showing that Cambodia is truly capable of participation on an equal footing in regional and world affairs. Moreover, growing international confidence in Cambodia has reaped benefits through increased trade, investment and tourist inflows. All these developments are crucial for employment creation and income generation for Cambodian workers, thus contributing to poverty reduction and improved welfare among our people.
Indeed, Cambodia is marching resolutely into the new century and new millennium with a vibrant peace, ample national reconciliation and strengthened Democracy with intense hopes and expectations for a bright future.
However, there are some discordant and destructive opposition quarters that are not happy with such landmark accomplishments. They continue to haunt us, and continuously attempt to disrupt the nation’s peace and stability. A regrettable event occurred in Phnom Penh on 29 January 2003. It was caused by disinformation, propaganda and incitement that led to unrest, racial hatred and even violence that endangered the lives and property of both Cambodians and foreign nationals in the Kingdom of Cambodia. Such a disturbance is contrary to the Royal Government’s policy of good neighborliness and our vision and practice of promoting the culture of peace. More importantly, this incident has seriously damaged the national interests of Cambodia and her people.
Indeed, we need to uphold our independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity and to protect our national culture. However, we are also required to maintain good relationships with neighboring countries, as well as with all other countries in the region and the rest of the world. Thus we must also exert our utmost efforts to peacefully resolve any outstanding or emerging issues with our neighboring countries without recourse to force or violence. Especially, we need friendly cooperation with our neighboring ASEAN countries with the view to mutual preserving independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, political stability and the promotion of rapid social and economic development and poverty reduction. This is the official stance of the Royal Government, reflecting the aspirations of our people.
NAM at the Crossroads
We are conscious that NAM is at the crossroads, faced with new political realities. We have witnessed and have in fact participated in the many dramatic changes in the NAM’s activities. Of crucial importance is how we are to respond to the changed environment, since it is clear that we cannot adopt a one-suit-all approach in our quest for sustainable development.
We all recognize that, with the impetus and influence of the forces of globalization and regionalism, the world has undergone tremendous and unexpectedly rapid transformation in recent decades. Simultaneously, a new wave of regionalism has gripped many parts of the world, spawning an interlocking array of Free Trade Area arrangements. Stronger economic integration has fostered more favorable conditions for preventing and solving the lingering strategic and geopolitical problems, yet has raised new challenges in almost all segments of our society and among specific demographic groups.
Governments across the world have responded to these changes by adopting strong measures for better governance, peace and national stability. The ongoing revolution in information and communication technology has transcended traditional barriers and bridged great distances between nations and people, promoting the unprecedented sharing and use of knowledge. Such communication has allowed our peoples to improve their skills and expertise in their difficult pursuit of a higher level of prosperity. Yet we need many more people with advanced education to complete the transition to a knowledge-based economy.
However, there is continuing uncertainty in the world at large, with the winds of war and crisis buffeting many nations. The fulfillment of the basic needs of all continues to be an uphill struggle as we grapple with the interlinked problems of population growth, the digital divide, the specters of disease – particularly HIV/AIDS, terrorism and transnational crimes, the arms race and nuclear proliferation and especially the worsening development disparities both across and within countries.
Therefore, we must forcefully and effectively respond to both the challenges and opportunities facing our peoples. At the least we must fulfill the fundamental responsibility of securing peace, security and stability and delivering the basic goods and services they require. And ideally, we must establish the vision and long-term program for the sustainable social and economic development of our countries and the world at large.
The Scourge of Terrorism
The world at large is actively combating terrorism, which is the most outstanding and urgent issue confronting us today and spreading fast to regions hitherto not touched with its highly destructive manifestations. Thus, there is a need for urgent actions. No country, no region and no community can remain safe if terrorists continue their surprise strikes and activities.
We all need to be united in countering and combating terrorism. We must take determined steps to move debate from the forum of violence in the streets and baseless ban of people’s travels into the calm dignity of political exchange. Cambodians are only too well aware of the scourge of terrorism and the unquestionable need for peace as the foundation of progress. Prosperity for all cannot be pursued in the absence of peace and security. Therefore we should all pledge here that we will not do anything that could damage fragile social fabrics. Indeed, we must be jointly determined to fight against the practice of terrorist acts that endangers people’s lives and our society, regardless of the reasons for the acts committed either in the name of a religion or on the aspiration of any nation. We need to focus on issues in our debates, not on personalities nor on groups. In this sense, we regret that some quarters define terrorism according to the special features of a religious sect or an ethnic group.
With regard to the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, we must intensify our cooperation to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. To this end, Cambodia has joined with its fellow ASEAN members and other partners in the establishment of the Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality in Southeast Asia (ZOPFAN) and the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (SEANWFZ). I think that this problem should be resolved through peaceful means, to ensure the stability of the fragile peace and political and economic stability in the world.
Good governance demands action to protect the security and safety of the population at large. Freedoms and rights of the many should dominate over those of an individual or a few who tend to abuse such rights for provocative propaganda, falsehood, nurturing extremist views. These actions undertaken under apparent guise of free speech and political activity ultimately provide a spawning ground for terrorists with catastrophic results in loss of lives and property as we have witnessed in the past.
Based on this philosophy, Cambodia is determined to protect the security and safety of our people at all costs. In the regional and international framework, Cambodia has actively participated in the preparation and implementation of agreements and declarations to root out terrorism. We call on the NAM to establish a cohesive framework for fighting terrorism through intensified international anti-terrorist collaboration.
New Development Paradigm
Since our 12th Summit at Durban in 1998, we have sought to push our development agenda forward by focusing on the core issues of development, trade, finance, external debt and technology transfer. We firmly believe that the improvement of the global environment for development through measures such as: increased Official Development Assistance (ODA), preferential tariffs on the exports of developing countries, debt reduction and expanded technology transfer and measures to bridge the digital divide will have tremendously favorable effects on the economies of many developing countries, who are working hard in fighting poverty. Therefore, we must help shape the emerging development paradigm and ensure that the core development issues are negotiated on the basis of common interest and benefit, shared responsibility and genuine interdependence.
Of utmost priority is the eradication of poverty. The gaps between the rich and poor, the mighty and meek, and the haves and have-nots have widened. There are half a billion people in abject poverty even as a few live in conspicuous comfort. The poor, vulnerable and oppressed suffer everywhere through neglect. We must rigorously implement policies to reduce poverty in our respective countries.
For the Royal Government of Cambodia, the war on poverty is not just a policy but a will and passion. In this regard, poverty reduction defines and drives the substance, the content, the heart and soul of our entire strategy of Government. Moreover, poverty reduction is not just a requirement of social justice, an action of conscience, but also an art of pragmatic economic management. Therefore, our efforts are geared towards ensuring the macroeconomic conditions for rapid growth while promoting equitable distribution of the fruits of growth with a focus on basic human needs. In short, our poverty reduction strategy is based on three key fundamentals: (i) long-term and high economic growth; (ii) equitable distribution of the fruits of this growth through social development and good governance; and (iii) sustainable management and use the national natural resources.
In this context, I propose that our Movement must devise steps to achieve the eradication of poverty within the next 12 years, with specific benchmarks and indicators for monitoring of progress to achieve the goals of the Millennium Declaration. With genuine sharing among the wealthy and the destitute, internationally, regionally and within countries, poverty eradication can be achievable. Already the industrialized countries or G-8 nations have foregone the past debts of the poorest nations. This trend must be encouraged, particularly via assistance that should largely be through grants rather than loans. Furthermore, we realize that the implementation of pro-poor policy agenda must be linked to the preservation and enhancement of our environment and ecology for the benefits of future generations.
The Royal Government recognizes that common efforts to narrow the digital divide is key to poverty reduction, improvement in the living standards of the population and strengthening competitiveness of each nation in the quest for sustainable development in the era of globalization. The development of telecommunication infrastructure, especially of information technology is crucial for narrowing the digital divide. Cambodia is prepared for the liberalization of this sector by strengthening our regulatory capacity while opening up to fair competition. This approach will ensure that state interests are protected while the equal treatment for all telecommunication players or competitors is maintained. Moreover, it is the government’s priority to encourage the participation of the private sector in the development of information and communication technology by providing adequate incentives to the companies to import expertise and state-of-the-art technology.
Cambodia’s Drive for Development
With full determination, the Kingdom of Cambodia has stepped forward to engage with other partners in such a rapid transformation, firmly moving beyond the shadows of our recent history. The Cambodian people have stepped resolutely into the 21st century, strengthened by vibrant peace, healthy national reconciliation and a vigorous democracy that respects human rights and dignity, fosters free speech and market-based, sustainable socio-economic development. In this regard, please allow me to highlight some episodes of Cambodia’s recent history for your appropriate perspective and consideration.
Cambodia has emerged from the most traumatic tragedy in any nation’s history in less than a quarter-century before. For 12 years following the liberation from the genocidal regime, Cambodia was subject to an international blockade, due to the geo-political factionalism, which is now widely acknowledged as misguided. Yet even in those years of isolation, we strived tirelessly to move the country forward by building up, block by block, the foundations for development. Indeed, our goals at that time were to raise our nation, our people’s living standards and economic institutions literally from the ashes at all costs.
With clear vision for rigorously achieving, from the outset, the reconciliation among our people and steady progress, we advanced, step by step, firstly by rehabilitating our agricultural base, the very foundation for our national survival, and then steady progress through the stages of market liberalization.
In 1991, the Paris Peace Accord brought about reconciliation among all the feuding political parties in Cambodia. A new, modern chapter of history was begun with the establishment of a new coalition Royal Government of national reconciliation following the UN-administered general elections of 1993. However, we still continued to face insurgency by the Khmer Rouge. Differences also lingered among the coalition partners. But we totally finished with these two negative elements, following the general elections that Cambodians conducted by themselves and internationally recognized as free and fair.People described it in 1998 in such glowing terms as the “miracle on the Mekong”. Indeed, the coalition government of the second term, led by myself as Prime Minister, was born out of strong, commonly held principles and clear vision for the country’s future, which are endorsed by the two major political parties in Cambodia.
Soon after the 1998 elections, we worked out a new political platform – the “Triangular Strategy” which has since underpinned our domestic and foreign policy. The first side of this strategic triangle is building peace, restoring stability and maintaining security for the nation. The second side is Cambodia’s rapid integration into the international community, especially into the comity of regional nations, and normalization of our relationships with the international financial institutions. Finally, the third side is to promote development based on the favorable conditions created by the implementation of key reform programs: demobilization, public administration reform, strengthening of the judiciary and legal system, and economic reforms including fiscal and banking reforms, land and fisheries reform and stringent measures to crack down on illegal logging and promote environmental protection.
Through the implementation of the Triangle Strategy, today’s Cambodia is firmly rooted in Democracy where the people at large exercise their choice of leadership in a free, fair and open manner through peaceful, regular elections. There is complete freedom of speech, expression and movement in Cambodia. In fact, such freedom is at times abused by people intent on creating dissent and discord in society where people now enjoy peace and stability. The economy is growing rapidly, with per capita income leaping forward. All macro-economic indicators have been robust and very encouraging from one year to another, although we have successively suffered from natural calamities in the midst of unfavorable political and economic conditions in the region and the world. Yes, Cambodia today is fully transformed and prosperous beyond recognition when compared to its skeletal existence in 1979!
Based on these achievements, Cambodia looks forward with strong confidence. Our strategies are designed to ensure that the first decade of the new millennium will be a period of peace, stability, growth, poverty reduction, social progress and prosperity for Cambodians from all walks of life. Our ambition is to create a socially connected, educationally advanced and culturally vibrant Cambodian society. Our vision is to have democracy deeply rooted in Cambodian society by strengthening the rule of law and practicing good governance and promoting respect for rights and dignity of all Cambodians.
Cambodia as Full Partner in the World Community
Isolation is no longer an option for any nation. Our fates and destinies are intertwined, and our economies cannot grow without exchange and inter-dependency. We are committed to act together and work tirelessly to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, as well as our common objectives agreed upon by at the major international conferences and summits, particularly in Doha, Monterrey and Johannesburg.
The Monterrey Consensus, Doha Ministerial Agreement and the Johannesburg Implementation Plan, together with theMillennium Declaration, provide a comprehensive set of recommendations for a new partnership for sustainable development. With mutual respect and caring collaboration, we will achieve the promise of shared peace and prosperity. We acknowledge that international trade can play a significant role in the promotion of economic development and poverty reduction. We trust that the forthcoming negotiations mandated at Doha will enable the full integration of developing countries into the WTO multilateral trading system. In this process, the interests of the Non-Aligned Countries and other developing countries must be seriously considered.
Regional integration is one of the important pillars of the Royal Government’s strategy to maintain peace and strengthen security in Cambodia and the region. Proactive, equal participation in regional and world affairs requires that Cambodia take further steps in strengthening its institutions and human resources. These links will further our economic advance, based on expanded and diversified trade and improved productivity and competitiveness.
Cambodia’s experiences show that the granting of GSP terms for the exports of developing countries will promote their exports to the more developed countries and attract foreign direct investment. This will help narrow development gaps between the developing and the developed world. Indeed, developing countries should be pro-active in enhancing South-South cooperation by utilizing all internal growth potentials including cooperation in tourism. At the same time, closer cooperation with the North should be sought on the basis of sharing, mutual respect for sovereignty, equality and mutual benefit.
Continuing peace, now deeply rooted in Cambodia, has built up public confidence in reforms and political stability, laying a solid path for Cambodia’s drive towards sustainable, long-term economic growth. The Royal Government is resolved and strongly committed to systematically enhance Democracy in the nation. Indeed, we are confident that the forthcoming 2003 general elections will further confirm the Royal Government’s irrevocable determination to promote Democracy and respect for people’ rights and dignity, keep the peace, further consolidate political stability and generate economic growth toward poverty reduction.
So now, as the new millennium unfolds, Cambodia is once again a unified nation. The Cambodian people look to the future with great optimism, borne out of our own achievements through the implementation of government’s sound economic and social policies. Our government has laid the foundations for a genuine nationhood, built on the aspirations of our people to improve their lives, to live in harmony and to be common stakeholders in their destiny.
In closing, Mr. Chairman, let me once again appeal to all world leaders to use the opportunity of this millennium to carefully evaluate our achievements and their costs and the perils that confront us in the future. We must consider key steps to establish a new world order that will safely govern this fragile planet through the next thousand years. The lessons of the past should steer us towards ensuring lasting legacies for generations yet unborn. I solemnly declare that Cambodia stands ready to join hands with you all in this global effort! I thank you all for your kind attention!