by Rhodri C. Williams
Just a quick post to highlight COHRE’s latest ESC rights quarterly, which focuses almost exclusively on a dispute between government-backed developers and long-settled residents in the Boeung Kak neighborhood of the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh. In the lead article, Natalie Bugalski (formerly of COHRE) and David Pred (of Bridges across Borders) summarize and update a longer report – Untitled: Tenure Insecurity and Inequality in the Cambodian Land Sector – earlier published by COHRE, BAB and Jesuit Refugee Services.
The article details the collapse of a longstanding accommodation between international donors, who hoped to eventually curb rampant land-grabbing in Cambodia through non-intrusive measures such as capacity-building and legislative reform, and the Government of Cambodia, which proved unwilling to continue playing along when international advice began to impinge directly on its core economic interests. It is a fascinating story and one which has not received the attention it deserves to date, despite the implications it has for donor-driven reconstruction and development activities in other post-conflict settings where land is regarded by local authorities as a resource subject largely to their own discretion.