Paris Agreement Cambodia

The treaty paved the way for the United Nations Transitional Administration in Cambodia (UNTAC), a peacekeeping mission that essentially led the country in 1992-93. Drawing on the spirit of the time – a period of dizzying liberal optimism that contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union – the agreement also promised to turn a poor and conflict-shaken nation into a liberal democracy in which human rights would be respected and defended. In this sense, the main political objective of the agreement was to remove Cambodia from the international agenda and allow it to recover from a generation of upheaval and conflict under an internationally recognized government. In 2012, a U.S. official who participated in the peace talks told me, “The Paris Accords essentially created a framework for putting politics back in Cambodia`s hands.” The agreement of 23 October 1991 was the result of long and painstaking negotiations. Its main objective was to end the civil war that had raged for more than a decade between the Cambodian government supported by the Soviet Union and Vietnam and three rebel groups supported by China, the United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). For the CPC, the Paris Agreements have meanwhile been subdated into the party`s own fundamental myths, as evidenced by Hun Sen`s remarks on the anniversary of the agreement. Hun Sen argued that Paris would never have happened had it not been for the meetings between him and Prince Norodom Sihanouk, which took place in France in 1987. He also pointed out (rightly) that the Paris Accords had not ended Cambodia`s civil war, which he attributed to the offensives and amnesties of his own government in the late 1990s – a policy that the CPC`s historiography has since canonized as a “win-win policy”. The statement accused the government of Mr. Hun`s Cambodian People`s Party (CPP) of violating the terms of the Paris Agreements and the Cambodian constitution that it helped shape by allowing the Chinese military from Cambodian soil.

In July 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported that the two countries had signed a secret agreement allowing China access to the Ream naval base in the Gulf of Thailand. Similar suspicions are also linked to a major tourism development supported by China, higher up the coast. The Cambodian government has strenuously denied these reports. Today is the 29th anniversary of the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in Cambodia, a pioneering international agreement that continues to enter the country`s politics, but not always for the right reasons.

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