Khmernews

Achievement of Advocacy in Cambodia

Posted by khmernews on November 10, 2006

A number of legislative agendas, including the 1997 Labor Code, and the Domestic Violence Law currently under debate, were initiated through advocacy campaigns. Other more politically sensitive legislative bills, such as the new land law, the community fisheries law, HIV/AIDs law and the forestry law were initiated by donors with leverage.

Some multilaterals, like the World Bank, have begun placing conditions on loans to the government that require the policy makers to engage in consultative process with NGOs and other civil society organizations. For example, conditions on loans to the government allowed NGOs to be included in discussions about fisheries policies.

NGOs have been included in consultations about some executive and ministerial directives (proclamations, sub-decrees, circulars, etc…) including the land law sub-decree. These are as or more, important than the actual law because they determine how policies will be implemented.

Advocacy strategies like seminars, incorporating international agencies and governance bodies, holding press conferences, and having follow-up meetings with the ministries and national assembly members have succeeded in getting the government to sign on to a number of international covenants. These include/ contentious issues, such as the International Criminal Court and the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Civil society has pressed for and often succeeded in being included in decisions about policy information. When there has been serious engagement between civil society organizations and government policy makers, the process has not been smooth, but the outcomes have usually been satisfying to all sides.

Public consciousness about key rights and responsibilities has been raised. For example, corruption is now referred to openly whereas it was once a taboo topic. The government is debating an anti-corruption law.

The number of advocacy capacity building organizations and activities has increased. The NGO Forum on Cambodia and Star Kampuchea continue to conduct various training courses to improve advocacy skills. Star Kampuchea created four provincial advocacy networks.

The Government has shown commitment to incorporating antipoverty or pro-poor goals in their long-term plans. High government officials openly talk about the need to get rid of corruption and help the poor. Doing advocacy in a country with even a theoretical commitment to helping the poor and enforcing the rule of law is very different than doing it in an openly repressive one. Advocates in Cambodia can work with some support and protection of the government, tell affected communities that, at least in theory, their government supports them, and remind officials of past commitments to change.

Civil society has been included in some important meetings between government and donors. NGO’s now have a seat at the table of the Consultative Group (CG) meeting where donors and government discuss last year’s performance and developing priorities for the next year.

Extracted from:
-Advocacy Handbook: A Practical Guide to Increasing Democracy in Cambodia, August 2003, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

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