How much do you know about the 1981 Paris Peace Agreement?
If your answer was “not much”, you are not alone! The Paris Peace Agreement was a negotiated settlement that sought to bring an end to the violence that had continued within Cambodia since the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979. The agreement was signed by the major political Cambodian factions, the UN, and 18 foreign countries and guaranteed Cambodia’s sovereignty and democratic liberties for its people. It set the stage for the creation of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), which carried out modern Cambodia’s first democratic elections in 1993 and hoped to set Cambodia on the path to becoming a liberal democracy with a constitutional monarchy.
The Peace Institute of Cambodia is working to raise awareness about the history and importance of the Paris Peace Agreement among the country’s burgeoning youth population. MCC helped to support the PIC’s October 22, 2013 conference, “The Origin of Peace and Democracy in Cambodia”.
The conference was organized by the PIC with the help of 22 youth volunteers from several of MCC’s partner organizations including Youth for Peace, the Alliance for Conflict Transformation, and Women Peacemakers. These youth helped to prepare exhibits, media displays, and informational material for the conference attendees. This material was essential in educating the attendees about the history of, and continued importance of the Paris Peace Agreement. The process of research for, and planning the conference was also a great way for the youth volunteers to learn more about the civil society engagement and the logistics of planning engaging and interactive dialogues and forums.
The one-day conference was attended by over 200 guests, both national and international. There were two panel discussions which covered a wide variety of topics including the freedom of expression in Cambodia, the Cambodian electoral system, human rights, legal and judicial reform, and the history of UN involvement in Cambodia.
Given the current context, it was a very timely and important event and MCC was honored to partner with the Peace Institute of Cambodia in raising awareness and fostering civil society dialogue about these crucial issues.