Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn said it is only with true multilateralism that the international community will be able to address the current major challenges because they are global in impact.
Sokhonn made the remarks on July 13-14 at the mid-term ministerial conference of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), a diplomatic forum that traditionally champions multilateralism in responding to global challenges.
He said that over the last two years the planet had entered a worsening phase characterised by compounding health, socio-economic and humanitarian crises.
These challenges have been further exacerbated by geopolitical rivalries between the superpowers amid the outbreak of the devastating Covid-19 epidemic, he said.
The intensifying recurrence of natural and climate-related disasters and the shift towards a digital economy that displaces some workers in traditional industries is certain to follow next, said Sokhonn.
“Cambodia strongly believes that in responding to these global challenges, cooperative multilateral efforts should be rooted in rules-based systems, in line with the Bandung Principles, the 2019 Baku Declaration and the UN Charter.
“For Cambodia, it is only within the framework of genuine multilateralism that the international community will be able to meet these major challenges. Merely invoking multilateralism for its own sake without recognising the plurality of our world is just lip-service,” he said.
The minister continued that true multilateralism means accepting differences between nations and turning enemies into peaceful and honest rivals, and without this foundation any future pandemics will be impossible to overcome.
Sokhonn said that as the international community strives to overcome the effects of Covid-19, it must strengthen the values of multilateralism and international cooperation to ensure that all countries have access to vaccines and medical equipment without restraint and with equity.
He said it was a crucial necessity that they find some way to ensure that all of the NAM member states can get on a path to economic recovery.
“The current two-track approach with developed countries versus developing countries is totally self-defeating,” Sokhonn said.
Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, told The Post that Cambodia’s participation in NAM was becoming an issue of importance once again because of the world’s shift towards a “Cold War” dynamic between the two superpowers – China and the US.
“For a small country like Cambodia, maintaining its neutrality in foreign policy is a good option, and it must be adhered to,” he said.
“But it does not mean that Cambodia must refuse to have relations with any country or region, only that it must take a neutral stance that benefits the nation,” he added.