Development, Trade and Foreign Affairs
By Khov Ea Hai,
Phnom Penh, December 30, 2016
Significance: after having a new Foreign Minister, H.E. Prak Sokhonn, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has apparently undergone a significant transformation through a sub-degress-on-organization-and-functioning. This sub-degree has introduced a more comprehensive platform in establishing a robust and resilient foreign policy decision-making process for inserting greater diplomacy in the context of current regional and global arena.
New Structural Paradigm: 28 Dec 2016, various departments under MFA-IC have consolidated and apparently formed themselves as new established General Departments, namely General Department of Legal, Consul and Border Affairs; General Department of Asia-Pacific; General Department of Europe, America and Africa-Middle-East; and General Department of International Cooperation. On the top of that, Department of Policy and Strategic Planning and Institute of Diplomatic Relations and International Studies are also found in the list.
Based on the Article 35 under Chapter 13 of Sub-degree, it has never before established and provided the Department of Policy and Strategic Planning a paramount role as the government body in foreign policy formulating and strategic planning. In that sense, this department is indeed a completely new engineering design for establishing a more comprehensive, consistent, coherent and complex foreign policy objective. This department expects to pioneer Cambodia’s Foreign Policy in the near future by shaping, developing, and protecting the national interests beyond the Kingdom’s border. Given the limited resources and capacity, constraints in practical implementation, and the rapid flow of information under the current modern technology causing even more difficulties to deal the sensitive regional and global issues, it is significant for Cambodia to define its national interests and the significant orders of them because sometimes conflict of interests happens.
Likewise, in the Article 31 under Chapter 11, it has provided at least three core functions for Institute of Diplomatic Relations and International Studies in educating, training and research. Actually, Human Resource Development has always been the top priority for Cambodia. Within the world politics, there are numerous unexpected incidences, surprised events, or black swan, for achieving greater foreign policy objectives, constant building and strengthening capability is definitely a must in the long-term vision for stronger competency and proficiency in dealing with these issues diplomatically.
Way Forward: as one of the culture-rich kingdom, Cambodia has a leverage in promoting the national interests through evaluating its prestige in order to reshape the perception, creating symbolism, and ultimately build soft power. This can be done through constructing the public diplomacy by “informing and influencing audiences overseas.” Beyond the traditional public diplomacy which is essentially focused on the state-to-state relations or leaders of sovereign states, the current public diplomacy largely provides new looks on cultural and social activities such as educational exchange programs, language training, cultural events, foods, traditional clothes, history and so on. The influence over the opinion overseas progressively becomes positive factor contributing to make things easier for Cambodia to accomplish its foreign policy objectives on the international stage. In this connection, a sophisticated, creative, and dynamic policy collaboration between Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, and Ministry of Tourism is the stepping stone for initial foundation.