Kingdom urges NAM states to commit to multilateralism

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Ouch Borith – minister attached to the prime minister – delivers remarks at the High-Level Commemorative Meeting to Mark the 60th Anniversary of the First NAM Conference in Belgrade on Tuesday. FOREIGN MINISTRY

A senior Cambodian diplomat called on Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) countries to renew their commitments to multilateralism and to find solutions to common challenges that all nations can support as no single country can address these global issues alone.

Ouch Borith – minister attached to the prime minister and permanent secretary of state for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation – made the call during the High-Level Commemorative Meeting to Mark the 60th Anniversary of the First NAM Conference in the Serbian capital Belgrade on October 11.

Borith pointed out that Cambodia had proved to be one of the few nations able to vaccinate nearly its entire population already, both citizens and resident foreign nationals alike.

The reason for Cambodia’s success, he said, was its commitment to diplomacy and dedication to a policy of maintaining friendly relations with all other nations – both large and small, whether near or far.

“Our country extends thanks for the support given to us by our friends around the world, which was based in the true spirit of vaccine multilateralism. As of October 10, overall, more than 84 per cent of the Kingdom’s total population of around 16 million has been vaccinated against the disease.

As the chair of ASEAN in 2022, he said Cambodia will endeavour to promote an action-oriented multilateral approach that will effectively address the common challenges facing the region with the urgency they require.

“And as we all know, NAM stands for multilateralism as we always strive to find solutions to common challenges because we know that no single country can address these issues alone,” he added.

He said that with the support and the strength derived from the solidarity of ASEAN member states and with their external partners, Cambodia will seek to ensure tangibility of benefits for all of the peoples across the whole ASEAN region with a firm resolve to fulfill the pledge of leaving no one behind.

“Let me conclude by reiterating Cambodia’s strong commitment to the Bandung principles enunciated in 1955: Unity in action – based on multilateralism – in our pursuit of peace and sustainable development for the world,” he said.

He also called on NAM countries to stand firm together against illegal, unilateral, extrajudicial and extra-territorial sanctions imposed on any NAM member states.

The challenges the NAM member countries faced 60 years ago, he said, are still relevant today as superpower rivalries have once again heated up and the bifurcation of the world order is once again becoming a reality, referencing the former US-USSR superpower rivalry and comparing it to current developments between the US and China.

He noted that the division of nations into blocs and alliance-building with a geopolitical agenda lately expressed through technological or trade wars and in the cyberspace domain has now been extended into the realm of public health with discriminatory policies based on the origins of some vaccines even when those vaccines are approved by the World Health Organisation.

Borith called on all NAM countries to be resolute in their rejection of all politicisation, discrimination and division between nations for purposes of geopolitical competition that are contrary to the spirit of the principles and objectives outlined in the UN Charter.

Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, said both regional and global trends have been shifting further towards multilateralism for some time.

“The world has entered a heavily interconnected and interdependent phase – economically, politically and even culturally – where regional and global issues need joint diplomatic mechanisms to effectively solve them.

“This has meant an increased importance for multilateral relationships for most nations as strength for most can only truly be achieved that way. For example: ASEAN or the EU. There has been a lot of progress working within that context lately,” he said.