Accords ‘not a tool for foreign intervention’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Hun Sen signs the Agreements on a Comprehensive Political Settlement of the Cambodia Conflict, more commonly known as the Paris Peace Accords, on October 23,1991, a treaty which ended 21 years of civil war in the Kingdom. GERARD FOUET/AFP

A the Kingdom enjoyed a public holiday on Tuesday to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, the Royal Academy of Cambodia said that even though the agreement still carries “moral value”, it “cannot be used as a tool to allow the international community to become involved in the internal affairs of Cambodia”.

However, a former opposition lawmaker said the international community must help restore “real democracy” to Cambodia as the central tenets of the agreement still held “essential value”.

A three-page statement issued by the Council of Ministers’ International Relations Institute of the Royal Academy of Cambodia on Tuesday said that the Kingdom has enjoyed full peace and is developing multi-party democracy in line with the nation’s culture and context.

“Cambodia pays attention to the promotion of human rights, especially political rights through regular elections, which is the source of the power of its citizens, [and] has open permission for the formation of political parties, NGOs and unions."

“The right of expression, the right of possession and press freedom are guaranteed by law,” the statement said.

Agreements on a Comprehensive Political Settlement of the Cambodia Conflict, more commonly known as the 1991 Paris Peace Accords, were signed on October 23, 1991 by the Cambodian government, represented by Prime Minister Hun Sen and Khmer Rouge defectors.

Other signatories were the Khmer People’s National Liberation Front, a group created in 1979 in opposition to the Vietnam-installed People’s Republic of Kampuchea regime and dissolved in 1993, and King Father Norodom Sihanouk.

Signed in the French capital, the agreement was recognised by the UN and the diplomatic heads of 18 other nations.

The Royal Academy went on to hail Hun Sen for his role in the peace agreement as “a true Khmer political hero” who resolved Cambodia’s crisis with fellow Khmers in a peaceful manner.

“The internal issues of Cambodia must be resolved by Cambodia under the internal laws of Cambodia. The international community cannot use the pretext of human rights and democracy to violate a sovereign state,” it said.

However, former opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker Mao Monivann said the Paris Peace Accords are still “essential” to the Kingdom even though they were signed 27 years ago.

The international community, he said, must help push for continued respect for the agreement.

He told The Post on Tuesday: “The Paris Peace Accords still have essential value for Cambodian citizens as the agreement ended conflict [in the Kingdom] completely, with elections held in 1993. The agreement has helped our country develop until this day.”

“The international community must be responsible and oversee a push to keep the spirit of the agreement alive forever."

“The international community must [not let up in the] push for real democracy [in Cambodia], and foreign [countries] must not overlook the actions that have derailed the principle of democracy in the Kingdom,” he said.

Monivann claimed the international community is pushing Cambodia to restore democracy to be in line with the spirit of the Paris Peace Accords.

Analyst Lao Mong Hay said the “spirit” of the 1991 Paris Peace Accords must be remembered as the agreement brought about the end of armed conflict in Cambodia, ushered in democracy, the respect for human rights and an international guarantee of the Kingdom’s permanent sovereignty, territorial integrity and neutrality.

“Be reminded that the spirit of national reconciliation, national unification and national unity is the core spirit of the 1991 Paris Peace Accords."

“We mark [this occasion] together and maintain that spirit in our hearts forever and follow this spirit to avoid and resolve conflicts between Cambodians,” he wrote in his Facebook page on Tuesday.