Powerful Emergence of CSAF in Cambodia in Support of National Development and Global Diplomacy

The Civil Society Alliance Forum (CSAF), a government allied institution, was established on June 26, 2016 by the Royal Government of Cambodia with a mission to support this Southeast Asian nation's development through civil society based on its national policy.

Its mission is to promote cooperation between NGOs and community associations with the government. Part of its work is also to encourage and promote increased collaboration and the sharing of experiences amongst the institutions in the field of civil society so as to achieve rapid development and sustainability.

The CSAF is chaired by Dr. Kemreat Viseth, Secretary of State of the Office of the Council of Ministers. In recent years, he has taken part in the preparation of forums and conferences focusing on the current and future challenges facing Cambodia. The CSAF also seeks to open wider participation from civil society representatives, academic researchers, professors, and others based on the principles of freedom of expression in accordance with Cambodia's Constitution enshrined since the U.N. sponsored election in 1993.

CONTRIBUTING TO COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

The CSAF has participated with local authorities nationwide, such as consultations with non-governmental organisations, gathering input and feedback from stakeholders as to how to address their concerns along with submitting proposals to the government. The concerns and challenges raised by locals are being addressed by CSAF's forums where provincial leadership and the local community gather.

On June 10, 2019, China's Ambassador to Cambodia, Wang Wentian, attended the forum held in the southern province of Takeo, an area where Beijing has invested nearly half a million U.S. dollars in humanitarian assistance to fund the drilling of hundreds of pumping wells to meet the growing demand for clean water for tens of thousands of locals. Such a move stands as testament to the strengthening bilateral friendship between Cambodia and China as part of the comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation.

The organisation is also involved with seeking funds from different sources for building schools, along with collaborating with foreign medical staff, especially in the field of eye treatment for locals.

The sexual and reproductive health issues of women and youth are part of CSAF's work given this plays a key role in the well-being of Cambodia's people.

The Beijing Genomics Institution (BGI), with its mission of supporting the development of science and technology and building strong research teams, is also in partnership with CSAF.

CSAF has opened doors for freedom of expression and democracy with the participation of scholars, researchers, students, and professors reflecting the values of both east and west in many ways. This is demonstrated through its work in organising a wide range of forums from local to international events.

CSAF BRIDGES GLOBAL DIPLOMACY

The group's role is more than just an institution that supports Cambodia's development policy; it is also now emerging as a player in bridging diplomacy.

Dr. Kemreat Viseth was appointed in September 2019 by the government as the Chairman of the Secretariat to co-organise along with the Universal Peace Federation (UPF), a non-governmental organisation working as a consultant with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Their initial task was to coordinate and host the Asia Pacific Summit from November 18 to 21, 2019 in Phnom Penh, with the theme Addressing the Critical Challenges of Our Time: Peace, Reconciliation, Interdependence, Mutual Prosperity and Universal Values.

There were more than 1,200 attendees, including current and former Heads of State and Government, speakers of parliament, cabinet ministers, lawmakers, along with representatives from faith-based organisations, civil society, youth, and the media.

Working for more than a month, many of the CSAF's staff worked alongside UPF's members throughout weekends and skipped holidays so as to successfully accomplish this historical event.

The inaugural remarks were made by Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen on November 19, 2019, and he was followed by foreign speakers who enjoyed freedom of speech and expression, along with hospitality thanks to both the CSAF and UPF.

Myanmar Vice-President U Henry Van Thio, Palau Vice-President Raynold Oilouch, Bangladeshi Parliamentarian Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Pakistan National Assembly Vice-President Qasim Khan Suri, former Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla, and former President of East Timor Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao delivered speeches.

CSAF, whose work normally deals with local communities and civil society in the country, spent its last week of work participating alongside the U.S.-based UPF in drafting the Phnom Penh Declaration of nine points approved by the Summit.

The Declaration stated its position on the protection of the environment and noted its concerns about increasing threats to global peace and security due to a variety of social, political, and economic causes. It also gave recognition to the need for civic space to resolve conflicts and ensure a more peaceful, equitable, and inclusive world order, and acknowledged the important role a responsible media plays in achieving this goal.

The Summit recognised the crucial role families and marriage play in achieving lasting peace and happiness, as well as non-violence, and placing youth and students in transformational leadership roles, with the prime example of the win-win strategy pioneered by Prime Minister Hun Sen in 1998 as best practice.

The Summit supports the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific as a means to guide regional cooperation and to help promote an enabling environment for peace, stability, and prosperity.

CSAF is proud of its role in setting the global ideas of advocating for people to solve their differences in order to establish a culture of one global family, as well as to reinforce cooperative relations and expand the environment of mutual trust and social harmony in order to advance universal peace and prosperity in Asia Pacific nations.

Another successful story for the CSAF was in January 2019 when it was involved with the launching of the ACC in a historical event in Siem Reap province. More than 1,000 national and international participants from over 50 countries in Asia discussed cultural issues.

Members of national and international communities discussed topics entitled: Emerging Multi-Conceptual World and Asian Identity, Connecting Culture and Sustainable Development, Harnessing Technology for Civilisation Connectivity, and Building a Community for Common Destiny in Asia.

It was noted that Cambodia has been recognised by the international community for our diplomatic abilities, which are getting stronger and stronger, year by year.

With its past experience in engaging and involvement with international forums, CSAF is ready for more opportunities in which it will play a greater role in bridging global diplomacy for peace and sustainable development.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press