Management and Prevention of Conflicts in Cambodia

Cambodia is not a developing country like others, as three decades of war and conflict led to the destruction of its social fabric. It is in a country like Cambodia that the concept of Culture of Peace takes its full dimension. There is a need to strengthen social cohesion and to promote a culture of tolerance and non-violence in order to foster the development of the country. Cambodian society had in the past a wide range of methods for the resolution of conflicts, many of which derived from the rich Buddhist heritage. But after the years of conflict, most of these methods for the resolution of conflicts simply disappeared. In order to build a Culture of Peace in Cambodia, it would be therefore important revitalise those traditional methods for the conflict resolution that are inherent to Cambodian society. Due to the lack of scientific documentation and written information, the first step should consist in the collection of relevant data that could guide future actions.

In view of this situation, UNESCO has conducted a research on traditional and contemporary methods for the prevention and resolution of conflicts in Cambodia. A consultant possessing a vast knowledge of Cambodia was identified and selected in November 2000 for conducting such a project. The study aimed to identify the types of conflicts that arise among Cambodia’s rural and urban populations, and to understand past and present conflict prevention and management methods. The research, entitled "Management and Prevention of Conflicts in Cambodia: An Anthropological Approach to Traditional and Innovative Methods", was published in 2002.

The study focused on everyday problems and disagreements that arise between people, and that lead to a concerted meeting between the opposing parties and the mediators with a view to solving the issue.

The methodology for the preparation of the study, which was carried out from January to October 2001, was based on bibliographic research and on qualitative interviews conducted with representatives from human rights NGOs, research institutes, organisations for the promotion of a culture of peace and development agencies. The survey was launched in the urban area of Phnom Penh and then extended to the rural villages of Kampong Speu, Kandal, Kampot, Siem Reap and Svay Rieng provinces.

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