The situation in Cambodia
As a direct consequence of the dissolution of the opposition party Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) in 2017, the political power in Cambodia is exclusively in the hands of the Cambodian People's Party (CPP). This is reflected not least in the National Assembly, where all members represent CPP.
Weak institutions contribute to further challenges for Cambodia to achieve good governance. A hierarchical decision-making system based on loyalties and informal contacts creates obstacles for a democratic development. The judicial system is weak, and corruption is common. However, studies indicate that the population's attitude to corruption is changing and previous acceptance is being replaced by frustration and demand for change.
The democratic space in Cambodia has shrunk since 2017, especially when it comes to political and civic rights.
Cambodia has a broad range of civil society organisations, about 5,000 (of which 1,350 are estimated to be active) local and around 400 international individual organisations are registered. Most of the organisations focus on development in local communities and community services, while seven percent focus on human rights and democracy.
When it comes to gender equality, women's opportunities for power and influence are considerably more limited than men's. Thus, the proportion of women in decision-making positions in the political sphere, the public sector, business and civil society is significantly lower than the proportion of men.
The purpose of Swedish cooperation in democratic governance is to create improved conditions for women and men to influence democratic institutions and processes, for non-discrimination, participation, transparency and accountability at all levels of society.
The Swedish support
The political developments in Cambodia 2017 led to some specific measures being adopted by Sweden. The decision was taken to increase the support and funding to partners focusing specifically on democracy and human rights, and that funding directly to the state should be limited to the sector of education and research.
The Swedish Government decided in June 2020 that greater focus should be given to the area of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in the development cooperation with Cambodia. This will include an increased financial allocation for the activities in the area.
Bilateral support in the area of education and the area of climate and environment will be phased out until the end of June 2021.
The European Union (EU) programme Partnership for Accountability and Transparency (PAT) aims to strengthen the institutions and actors that are fundamental for the establishment of mechanisms that improve the government’s accountability. The implementation of the programme is delegated to Sweden until the end of 2022.
Examples of ongoing projects
Partnership for Accountability and Transparency
This partnership between Sida and the EU aims to provide institutional support in order to strengthen Cambodian authorities that work with mobilization of tax revenues, with statistics, public financial management, transparency and accountability. The partnership just entered its second phase for 2020-2022, which focuses on establishing an enabling environment for the government’s Public Financial Management reform by strengthening demand for and supply of public transparency and accountability through institutional capacity development. The project takes place through cooperation with Statistics Sweden, the Swedish Tax Agency, the Swedish National Audit Office and the Swedish Parliament’s investigation service. The civil society organisation Transparency International Cambodia (TIC) is also part of the programme: the organisation aims at increasing awareness on corruption and finding innovative ways to combat this issue within the Cambodian society.
Leading the Way For Gender Equality
Sida supports UNDP:s "Project to Support the Leading the Way For Gender Equality Program” (LWGE), which aims to support Cambodia in effectively institutionalizing gender equality policies across government, strengthen coordination on gender equality, promote changes in attitude in favor of enhanced equality amongst citizens and young Cambodians, and promote an increased number of women in decision making positions and a strengthened feminist leadership. In turn, UNDP supports the Cambodian Ministry of Women’s Affairs to strengthen its capacity to plan for, implement and follow up on gender equality interventions. The ultimate aim of the LGWE is to provide a step towards a comprehensive gender programme, to which all development partners can adhere.