Almost a decade after the 1991 Paris Peace Agreements which ended Cambodia's long and bloody civil war, the country is at peace and the government is at last secure enough to contemplate the trials of Khmer Rouge leaders for their role in the genocide of the 1970s. Cambodia has a coalition government that is stable, has reclaimed its seat at the United Nations and has become a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It is posting 4 per cent annual economic growth rates and making modest strides in economic reform.
Yet Cambodia remains a strongman's state, replete with lawlessness, human rights abuses, grinding poverty, bloated security forces and an economy thriving on prostitution, narcotics trafficking, land grabbing and illegal logging. The ruling Cambodian's People's Party (CPP), led by Prime Minister Hun Sen, has now achieved long-sought legitimacy but this has come essentially by default - by marginalising political opposition, wearing down donors and diplomats, and maintaining a lock on power through military and local government offices. The majority of Cambodians are still waiting for their peace dividend, and many believe it will never come.
ICG published a series of reports on Cambodia's uncertain transition to stable democracy but has now wound up its project in the country as the risk of conflict has diminished.