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East Asia and the Pacific: Roundtable With Cambodian Media
MODERATOR: It’s my pleasure to introduce you to Assistant Secretary Danny Russel from the State Department Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs. He’ll make a few brief remarks and then he’s here to take your questions. As a reminder, this is an “on the record” interview.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Thank you Jay. All set? Great. Well thank you all very much for coming. I’m here in Phnom Penh again. I have visited in the past including with President Obama and the former Secretary of State, but I’m here in Phnom Penh as part of a swing through Southeast Asia for consultations with the government, with political parties, with civil society, and with our Embassy team.
One of the reasons that I’m here is because we care deeply about the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Cambodia. It’s a relationship we’re committed to and it’s a relationship in which we are investing time and effort. As part of the Administration’s Rebalance strategy that puts a strategic priority on the Asia Pacific region, we are deepening our cooperation with all of the countries of ASEAN and we are preparing for the twenty fifteen ASEAN economic community as well. So I came to discuss both bilateral issues, regional ASEAN related issues, but also global challenges that face both Cambodia and the United States.
I began this morning with a meeting with the Acting Foreign Minister Ouch Borith. I explained to him why I was here and the goal of continued engagement with the Cambodian government. I noted some progress on the political front in Cambodia in terms of the agreements between the two major parties, but I also emphasized the importance of meaningful and sustained reform in the political sphere, in the economic arena, in terms of governance and in Cambodian society. I raised with him our concerns about land related issues included the BKL case. We talked about corruption and I conveyed the U.S. views that improvement in governance in Cambodia and the strengthening of Cambodia’s institutions is critical in achieving the goal of long term stability, and I explained that long term stability and growth in Cambodia is very much in the best interest of the United States. I made clear that the United States seeks to support progress in reforms in order to strengthen Cambodian institutions for that purpose. We talked about Cambodia’s competitiveness in economic terms and discussed some of the programs that the United States is supporting to create jobs, to promote growth, and also to protect public health and the environment in Cambodia and in the broader Mekong area.
I went then to CICP and made some remarks and took questions from a very diverse audience. I had a lunch meeting with representatives of civil society in Cambodia that included representatives of Cambodian NGOs as well as international non-governmental organizations as well who are involved in supporting reform efforts in the country. I of course was able to consult in some depth with our very talented Embassy team including my friend Ambassador Todd, who is a friend of Cambodia and has been doing great work here. I also had a chance to talk to the employees of the Embassy, including the Cambodian employees, to convey from Secretary Kerry our deep appreciation of the good work that they do.
This evening I will be meeting with senior representatives of the opposition CNRP party. I was scheduled to meet also with Prime Minister Hun Sen this afternoon, although last night we received word that his schedule had changed and he was detained in Singapore, so I won’t have a meeting with him in this trip and then I leave tonight. So that’s a quick overview of my schedule and some of the elements of the meeting I had with the Acting Foreign Minister and with that I’m happy to take your questions.
QUESTION: You met with the government officials. Can you tell us any promise or pledge to Cambodia? I mean, maybe in investment or in the aid that you pledge to Cambodia’s officials.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: My pledge to the Cambodian officials was that the United States is committed to working with them, with civil society, and with the people of Cambodia to advance the cause of reform and universal values such as human rights. I explained to them that the U.S. strategy in the Asia Pacific region is based both on strong bilateral ties and our support for ASEAN; that includes support for the broad ASEAN agenda but particularly for the development of ASEAN as a unified institution.
QUESTION: Because we see that now Cambodia is doing reforms on the national elections committee, doing reform on the Parliament, and they are not trying to fight against the corruption. Is there any, like promise on that issue, that U.S. will support, even financial support or other support?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Well, the United States government – and very importantly, U.S. NGOs and private sector – have numerous programs in support of the reform and democratization process in Cambodia. One of the points that I made to the government and to the Cambodian audiences today is that Cambodia’s future prosperity depends on a number of important things. First and foremost, it depends on a strong institution of governance. International investors won’t chose Cambodia if, for example, the courts and the legal infrastructure isn’t reliable. Investors need to have confidence that contracts will be enforced; that the rule of law will be upheld, and that corruption will be prevented or at least resisted.
Secondly, I stressed the importance of education and fostering opportunity for young people. More than three-quarters of Cambodia’s population is under the age of thirty. That represents a tremendous opportunity, as long as young people have access to educational opportunities and can develop their full potential. I think that’s key to the growth of this country. So, I made clear that the United States will partner with all those in Cambodia who are prepared to work towards democratic good governance and who are prepared to contribute to the effort to strengthen the rule of law in this country.
QUESTION: I’m sorry, just one more question and then I leave the floor to other people. You mentioned that because now, the impediments for investments, such as corruption, justice system and also the point that you mentioned, human rights issue, education. I think all of this is now Cambodia is fixing right now. Do you think that is the reason U.S. investors don’t come to Cambodia and what do you think, in what year that U.S. investors will come to Cambodia?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Well, we are working with the private sector as well as with the government in Cambodia to increase both trade and investment. Ambassador Todd has been very active in this regard and the Administration has sent various missions and senior officials to promote trade. There are areas where reform and progress in Cambodia will make a huge difference. I‘ve mentioned the problem of corruption and would cite that as an ongoing challenge for Cambodia and for investors here. The issue of corruption is directly linked to the strength of the legal institutions. It’s essential that both the Cambodian people and foreign investors have confidence in the courts and in the equal application of the law. That is an essential condition for sustained economic growth.
QUESTION: Do you think there are any specific project that will be happen during 2015 in terms of trade and investment?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: I will defer to Ambassador Todd to provide specifics about what may be on the calendar in terms of trade and investment. I know he has a number of activities planned. My focus is on the policies that will facilitate trade and investment that will help Cambodia develop in a sustainable manor and that will make Cambodia more competitive, in what is an already extremely competitive region. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the TPP Agreement, which includes Vietnam, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, all neighbors to Cambodia, is expected to be concluded in the coming months. That’s a very high quality trade agreement. Among twelve countries that collectively represent 40% of the world’s GNP, it’s clear that free trade and high quality trade agreements are coming Asia’s way, and against that backdrop it’s especially important that Cambodia make progress in short order to upgrade its governmental institutions to attract investor and to remain competitive. That includes the labor front, as well as in areas such as education, the environment and energy; three areas of focus in America’s cooperative developmental projects here in Cambodia.
QUESTION: In terms of debt, is there any development on this?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: That too I think I’ll leave to Ambassador Todd to provide and update on.
QUESTION: You just mentioned that U.S. is prepared to work with those that want to promote human rights, democracy, and rule of law in Cambodia. Could you tell us how the U.S. is going to help this?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Well, we have been working towards that goal through the range of programs championed by our Embassy Phnom Penh and USAID. That includes training, it includes education, it includes good governance programs, it includes exchanges, and a range of technical forms of cooperation that build capacity in the Cambodian system. Secondly, both our economic policy and our private sector are forces for reform and fair practices. U.S. companies have extensive corporate social responsibility programs that help build the culture that respects the rights of citizens and consumers. At a governmental level we use every opportunity, as I did today, to convey clearly the concern on the part of the United States wherever human rights and civil rights are at threat or are abridged. I left the Acting Foreign Minister in no doubt about the importance that we place on the protection of human rights, as well as the importance of pursuing policies that build confidence in Cambodia’s governance system. At the same time, we emphasize that as political space increases in Cambodia and as citizens are empowered to exercise their legitimate political rights, support in the United States for expanding and upgrading the US/Cambodia relationship, increases. So, positive steps to political reform that demonstrate a respect by Cambodia’s leaders for its citizens and that build confidence among those citizens in their ability to shape their own political future, will make it easier for me, make it easier for Ambassador Todd, make it easier for other in the U.S. Government to implement the kind of programs that we believe will benefit Cambodia. That said, the strongest argument for protection human rights and civil rights, isn’t that it will improve Cambodia’s relationship with countries like the united states and the international community, although that happens to be true; the strongest argument in favor of the protection of universal human rights is that it produces a stable and healthy society. The fact is the United States wants Cambodia to succeed. We benefit from a stable and a prosperous Cambodia. At the end of the day democratic governments with a healthy respect for human rights flourish economically. The tremendous wealth created in the United States in the last ten years is a function of an open society where people are free to challenge orthodoxy, to speak out, to ask difficult questions, to innovate and where they can count on the courts and the rule of law to protect the intellectual property that they develop. We would like to help Cambodia prosper by pursing the rule of law and respecting human rights.
QUESTION: Do you have any figure of bilateral trade between U.S. and Cambodia and the plan to put bilateral trade and investment in Cambodia?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: There too I think I’ll defer to Ambassador Todd for the specifics. What I will say though is that I believe it is valuable for Cambodia to have a diversity of economic trading partners and to have a multiplicity of options when it comes to doing business. Now the United States is a wide open market. That accounts for the fact that we are Cambodia’s largest export market. On the other hand the amount of U.S. investment in Cambodia is small relative to many of the other Southeast Asian countries. Now, our embassy and our economic team is working hard to promote trade and investment, but frankly the challenge of corruption, the challenges in Cambodian legal and other institutions, and uncertainty about the future of Cambodia’s political arrangements, may be factors in slowing down American investors. That’s not a U.S. government policy, that’s a strategic risk decision by private capital and private business. We have followed very closely the political developments, including the agreements reached between the ruling and the opposition party. We are tracking closely every step forward that Cambodia takes towards reform and democracy, but the people who need to be convinced that they can count on long term stability in Cambodia, in addition to your own citizens, are the international business community.
QUESTION: I read through your remark in CICP this morning. Mostly your remarks are positive for Cambodian political atmosphere. In a paragraph you said that it’s a clear call for the reform after the election in Cambodia so that after the agreement between the CPP and the CNRP, now they are working all together in National Assembly. Did you mark any progress of reform within Cambodian politics?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Well, what I said and what I think is that the results of the July 2013 elections were a clear call for democracy, for transparency, and for reform in Cambodia. And I believe that the loudest voice heard was the voice of young people, who have high hopes and great aspirations for democratization and rule of law in this country. Now, certainly the agreements reached between the two parties is a positive step and the commitments, regarding reforms in advance of local elections and then national elections in 2017 and 2018, are very important commitments that need to be kept. But here’s how I think we need to look at it, democracy and reform in Cambodia is a work in progress. There’s no simple “on” switch. It requires sustained and consistent work by all sectors of society. It requires dialog and it requires determination. Now, I believe that the Cambodian people and the American people basically want the same things for themselves, for their families, for their communities, and for their nations. We want opportunity and we want justice. The United States can help and is determined to help Cambodia on both of those fronts. But there are real challenges; there are significant problems; the problem of corruption; the problem related to land seizures; the problems related to unequal application of the law; the uncertainly regarding the resolution of several outstanding questions pertaining to the rules that will govern the upcoming election. Cambodia now has an extraordinary chance to get it right and I came with a message to the government, the business community, and civil society, that the United States will be a full partner to those in Cambodia who will commit to taking meaningful steps toward democratic reform and good governance.
QUESTION: You met with opposition and Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs this morning. What is their message and promise to the United States?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Well, I leave it to the Cambodian side to speak for themselves, and the Foreign Ministry, I believe has already issued a statement with their take on the conversation this morning.
MODERATOR: We are running low on time, so we’re going to have one more question and then we’ll have to wrap it up.
QUESTION: Just back to the meeting this morning, just to make sure that you have raised about the demonstration and about the arrest of the activists of the opposition party. My question is, what did you learn about this situation after the election crackdown and what is the U.S. position on this violence?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Well, I very explicitly raised the issue of the BKL protestors who have been arrested, summarily convicted and whose appeal has now been denied. I of course don’t propose to intervene on an internal legal matter, but the unmistakable appearance is of a politically motivated prosecution. Cambodia and the United States have great differences, but even so, I’m not aware of any other country in which moving a bed into a road is a criminal offence punishable by significant jail terms. The perception that justice is doled out in an unequal manner, harms Cambodia reputation, shakes the faith of Cambodia’s friends, discourages potential investors, and I believe runs counter to the expression of the Cambodian people in the election calling for democratic reform. Did everybody get a chance?
QUESTION: I have two questions; the first one is that I want to continue with our colleague, Mr. Sokheng, talking about rule of law this morning. His Excellency Ouch Borith has told reporters that the arrest of the protestors of Boeung Kak Lake and the activists of CNPR, it was a practice of the rule of law and I want know what was your answer to that about this. And the second question is that now talking about the investment or trade we see with much Japanese investment, Japanese investors are coming to Cambodia after Chinese investment or Chinese investors, so for the United States, will we see many competitors in terms of trade?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Well on the first question, in keeping with longstanding diplomatic custom, I’m not going to provide details of the discussion that I held with government officials, but as I indicated earlier, I explicitly raised our concerns regarding the BKL case and the verdict. I specifically flagged how closely we are monitoring the CNRP trial case and I underscored the point that actions that undermine faith by the international community, or more importantly Cambodian citizens, in the judicial institutions of the country, work counter to the goal of growth, stability and democratic reform. So I made our concerns very, very clear.
With respect to investment in Cambodia by other Asian countries, whether it’s China, or whether it’s Japan, we do not consider that to be problematic competition, as long as it is clean and fair. If the, the decision is for Cambodian’s to make of course, but I don’t know of any country that doesn’t prefer sound investment based on good business models over problematic investments that involve pay offs or are not respectful of the environment and other factors. So this issue isn’t, where does the investment originate from, the issue is what is the quality of the investment. Now it’s my observation that U.S. investment is particularly high quality, but that’s not to say that Japanese or Korean or other investors can’t similarly do business in a way that genuinely benefits the Cambodian people, the Cambodian economy and the Cambodian nation.
Oh yeah, thank you so much. I can’t believe I have two major omissions, I apologize for that. I’ve completely neglected to mention, arguably my favorite meeting of the day, was with a group of about two dozen or more, young leaders, who participate in the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiate, YSEALI program that President Obama announced more than a year ago. This is a program that supports young people who are active in business or in community fairs in areas like the environment and development from all ten of the ASEAN countries. President Obama has held town hall meetings with the YSEALI leaders in the past and will continue to do it on a regular basis. We’ve sent some of the representatives from Cambodia to participate in town hall meetings with the President and we’ve also arrange for many of the YSEALI members to travel to the United States and within Asia as part of their programs. I had a chance to have a long talk with them about their hopes and their aspirations for this country as well as for the further development of ASEAN.
The second thing that I neglected to mention is that the Department of States Asia Bureau has a Twitter account. It’s @USAsiaPacific. We use that to provide updates to what we’re doing in this region and focus on areas of interest to people of Cambodia as well. So I encourage you to share that with your readers. Thank you very much.
East Asia and the Pacific: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Request for Proposals: Programs in Support of Civil Society and Political Reform in Cambodia, and Laos, and Papua New Guinea
Department of State
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Request for Proposals: Programs in support of civil society and political reform in Cambodia, and Laos, and Papua New Guinea.
I. Requested Proposal Program Objectives
The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) announces a Request for Proposals (RFP) from organizations interested in submitting proposals for projects in the following project areas:
- Enhance strategy, communication, and tactics by activists in Cambodia;
- Support for the expansion and greater independence of civil society in Laos;
- Building Cross-country Networks and Action for Women’s Rights in Papua New Guinea
PLEASE NOTE: DRL strongly encourages applicants to access immediately www.grantsolutions.gov or www.grants.gov in order to obtain a username and password. Please see “DEADLINE AND SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS” below for specific instructions.
Enhanced strategy, communication, and tactics for issue-based activism in Cambodia (approximately $346,500 available)
DRL’s objective is to support issue-based activists in Cambodia with tools and resources leading to enhanced strategies, skills and tactics to communicate policy prescriptions and build support for political reform. DRL seeks proposals which introduce pro-reform political activists and civil society leaders to best practices for influencing political change in Cambodia’s dynamic and evolving political environment. DRL seeks proposals which focus on issues of import to a democratic and inclusive Cambodia, including, but not limited to: government spending, respect for human rights, corruption, land use and land rights, infrastructure and special economic zone investment. Activities could include:
a. Support for constructive engagement with a variety of national and local government offices and private corporations.
b. Assistance with the development of issue-based and solutions-oriented platforms, domestic issue-based campaign activities
c. Strategize the use of applicable international and regional mechanisms for redress, remediation, and monitoring.
d. Techniques of strategic communication and non-violent strategic action, so reform messages better resonate with the government and build support from the broader society.
e. Support for coalition-building on issues of mutual support between civil society leaders and political parties.
Support for the expansion and greater independence of civil society (approximately $396,000 available)
DRL’s objective is to broaden the base of an engaged civil society in Laos. DRL seeks proposals which increase civil society’s ability to advance issues of import to communities in Laos, and influence decisions made by the Government of Laos and businesses.
Activities could include:
a. Skill-building and other resources needed by non-profit associations and issue-based networks.
b. Support to build collaborative relationships between Vientiane and provincial-based organizations and civil leaders.
c. Provide communication and outreach skills, as appropriate to the environment.
d. Provide small grants to local organizations for their activities.
e. Include non-profit associations, networks and other civil actors outside of Vientiane.
f. Incorporate NPAs from Laos into regional networks and platforms.
DRL prefers proposals which foster organizations with rights-based approaches; proposals which have an overwhelming focus on improving service delivery or core organizational management will not be viewed as competitive.
Papua New Guinea
Building Cross-country Networks and Action for Women’s Rights (approximately $297,000 available)
DRL seeks proposals that build networks amongst civil society organizations that address gender-based violence and/or impunity in Papua New Guinea. Projects should include organizations outside the capital, and build the capacity of these organizations to advocate for women’s rights and/ or strengthens the rule of law in these areas.
Partnership with local organizations is strongly encouraged. The program should be implemented by partners with a long-standing knowledge and relationship with CSOs in Papua New Guinea. DRL grantees will provide capacity building, coaching, networking, and other support to Papua New Guinea CSO partners.
II. Background Information on general DRL funding
DRL supports programs that uphold democratic principles, support and strengthen democratic institutions, promote human rights, and build civil society around the world. Funds are available to support projects that have the potential to have an immediate impact leading to long-term sustainable reforms. Projects should have potential for continued funding beyond DRL resources. Projects must not duplicate or simply add to efforts by other entities.
DRL will not consider proposals that reflect any type of support for any member, affiliate, or representative of a designated terrorist organization, whether or not elected members of government.
The information in this solicitation is binding and may not be modified by any DRL representative. Explanatory information provided by DRL that contradicts this language will not be binding. Issuance of the solicitation does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the Government. DRL reserves the right to reduce, revise, or increase proposal budgets in accordance with the needs of the program evaluation requirements.
This request for proposals will appear on www.grants.gov, www.grantsolutions.gov, and DRL’s website http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c12302.htm.
III. Eligibility Information:
Organizations submitting proposals must meet the following criteria:
- Be a non-profit organization/non-government organization (NGO), including U.S.-based NGOs, public international organizations, or foreign-based NGOs; or
- Be a non-profit university or research institution; or
- Be a for-profit organization or business, although there are restrictions on payment of fees and/or profits to the prime recipient under grants and cooperative agreements; and
- Have existing, or the capacity to develop, active partnerships with in-country entities and relevant stakeholders including industry and non-governmental organizations; and
- Have demonstrated experience administering successful and preferably similar projects. DRL reserves the right to request additional background information on organizations that do not have previous experience administering federal grant awards. These applicants may be subject to limited funding on a pilot basis.
Organizations may form consortia and submit a combined proposal. However, one organization should be designated as the lead applicant.
An OMB policy directive published in the Federal Register on Friday, June 27, 2003, requires that all organizations applying for Federal grants or cooperative agreements must provide a Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number when applying for all Federal grants or cooperative agreements in or after October 1, 2003. Please reference: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/fedreg/062703_grant_identifier.pdf for the complete OMB policy directive.
All organizations applying for Federal grants or cooperative agreements will need to be registered with www.sam.gov. Your organization’s DUNS number is needed to complete this process.
IV. Application Requirements, Deadline, and Submission Instructions
Proposals must conform to DRL’s posted Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI), as updated in November 2012, available at http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c12302.htm.
DRL is committed to the containment of administrative expenses, consistent with overall program objectives and sound management principles. Additional budget guidelines are explained in the PSI. In any cases where the guidelines in the PSI differ from this request, this document takes precedence.
DEADLINE AND SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS
Applicants must submit proposals electronically using www.grantsolutions.gov or www.grants.gov by 11:59 p.m. EST, on Friday, January 16, 2015. DRL will not accept proposals submitted via email, fax, the postal system, or delivery companies or couriers. Applicants may submit more than one application; however, each application should be submitted only once.
All applicants must submit applications via www.grantsolutions.gov.
Organizations that have previously used www.grantsolutions.gov do not need to register again. Applicants using www.grantsolutions.gov for the first time should complete their registration as soon as possible. This process must be completed before an application can be submitted. Registration with www.grantsolutions.gov usually occurs directly after an applicant submits their registration. To register with www.grantsolutions.gov, click “Login to GrantSolutions” and follow the “First Time Users” link to the “New Organization Registration Page.” There are different ways to register your organization, click on the link that fits best.
A valid DUNS (Data Universal Numbering System) number and www.sam.gov registration are NOT required for submission of an initial application on www.grantsolutions.gov. If a project is selected for further funding stages, these will need to be obtained.
When uploading the required materials as specified in the application kit, applicants should wait until the upload shows the status as “successful” before moving to the next part of the application kit. Upon completion of a successful application submission, the GrantSolutions system will provide the applicant with a confirmation page indicating the date and time (Eastern Time) of the application submission as well as an official Application Number. This confirmation page will also provide a listing of all items that constitute the final application submission. Please save this page for your records.
Applicants who do not submit applications via www.grantsolutions.gov may submit via www.grants.gov.
Interested organizations using www.grants.gov for the first time should register on the www.grants.gov site to create a new Applicant account as soon as possible because this process must be completed before an application can be submitted. To register with www.grants.gov, follow the “Get registered” link. Organizations that have previously used www.grants.gov do not need to register again.
Each organization will need to be registered on www.sam.gov, and you will need to have your organization’s DUNS number available to complete this process. For more information regarding the DUNS number, please visit www.dnb.com or call 1-866-705-5711. After your organization registers on www.sam.gov, you must wait approximately three to five business days before you can obtain a username and password. This may delay your ability to post your proposal.
Therefore, DRL strongly urges applicants to begin this process on www.grants.gov well in advance of the submission deadline. Completing all the necessary registration steps for obtaining a username and password from www.grants.gov can take more than two full weeks.
Once registered, the amount of time it can take to upload an application will vary depending on a variety of factors including the size of the application and the speed of your internet connection.
Therefore, we strongly recommend that you not wait until the application deadline to begin the submission process
No exceptions will be made for organizations that have not completed the necessary steps to submit applications through www.grantsolutions.gov or www.grants.gov.
It is the responsibility of all applicants to ensure that proposals have been received by www.grantsolutions.gov or www.grants.gov in their entirety. DRL bears no responsibility for data errors resulting from transmission or conversion processes.
V. Review and Selection Process
DRL will review all proposals for eligibility. Eligible proposals will be subject to compliance of Federal and Bureau regulations and guidelines and may also be reviewed by the Office of the Legal Adviser or by other Department elements. Final signatory authority for assistance awards resides with the Department’s Grants Officer. DRL and the Grants Office reserve the right to request any additional programmatic and/or financial information regarding the proposal.
Proposals will be funded based on an evaluation of how the proposal meets the solicitation review criteria, U.S. foreign policy objectives, and the priority needs of DRL. The Department of State will host a U.S. government interagency review panel to evaluate proposals submitted under this request. Each proposal will be rated along the following six criteria:
1) Quality of Program Idea
Proposals should be responsive to the solicitation and appropriate in the country/regional context, and should exhibit originality, substance, precision, and relevance to the Bureau’s mission of promoting human rights and democracy. The bureau prioritizes innovative, stand-alone programs. In countries where similar activities are already taking place, an explanation should be provided as to how new activities will not duplicate or merely add to existing activities.
DRL strives to ensure its programs advance the rights and uphold the dignity of the most at risk and vulnerable populations, including women, people with disabilities, racial and ethnic minorities, religious minorities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. To the extent possible, organizations should identify and address considerations to support these populations in all proposed program activities and objectives, and should provide specific means, measures, and corresponding targets to include them as appropriate.
2) Program Planning/Ability to Achieve Objectives
A strong proposal will include a clear articulation of how the proposed program activities contribute to the overall program objectives, and each activity will be clearly developed and detailed. A relevant work plan should demonstrate substantive undertakings and the logistical capacity of the organization. Objectives should be ambitious, yet measurable and achievable. For complete proposals, applicants should also provide a monthly timeline of project activities and a logic model to demonstrate how the program will have an impact on its proposed objectives. Proposals should address how the program will engage relevant stakeholders and should identify local partners as appropriate. If local partners have been identified, the Bureau strongly encourages applicants to submit letters of support from proposed in-country partners. Additionally, applicants should describe the division of labor among the direct applicant and any local partners. If applicable, proposals should identify target areas for activities, target participant groups or selection criteria for participants, and the specific roles of sub-grantees, among other pertinent details. In particularly challenging operating environments, proposals should include contingency plans for overcoming potential difficulties in executing the original work plan and address any operational or programmatic security concerns and how they will be addressed.
3) Multiplier Effect/Sustainability
Proposals should clearly delineate how elements of the program will have a multiplier effect and be sustainable beyond the life of the grant. A good multiplier effect will have an impact beyond the direct beneficiaries of the grant (e.g. participants trained under a grant go on to train other people, workshop participants use skills from a workshop to address local concerns that are relevant to a wider national audience). A strong sustainability plan may include demonstrating continuing impact beyond the life of a project or garnering other donor support after DRL funding ceases.
4) Program Evaluation Plan
Complete proposals should include a detailed plan (both narrative and table) of how the project’s progress and impact will be monitored and evaluated throughout the project. Incorporating a well-designed monitoring and evaluation component into a project is one of the most efficient methods of documenting the progress and potential success of a program. Proposals should demonstrate the capacity for engaging in impact assessments and providing objectives with measurable outputs and outcomes. Projects that propose an external evaluation with a clear plan will be viewed favorably in this category.
5) Institution’s Record and Capacity
The Bureau will consider the past performance of prior recipients and the demonstrated potential of new applicants. Proposals should demonstrate an institutional record of successful democracy and human rights programs, including responsible fiscal management and full compliance with all reporting requirements for past grants. Proposed personnel and institutional resources should be adequate and appropriate to achieve the project’s objectives.
6) Cost Effectiveness
DRL strongly encourages applicants to clearly demonstrate program cost-effectiveness in their Proposal. Programs that leverage resources from funds internal to the organization or other sources, such as public-private partnerships, will be highly considered. Cost sharing is encouraged, and cost sharing contributions should be outlined in the proposal, budget, and budget narrative.
For additional guidance, please see DRL’s posted Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI), as updated in November 2012, as well as DRL’s Monitoring and Evaluation Primer and Sample Monitoring and Evaluation Plan. All are available at http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c12302.htm.
VI. Contact Information
GrantSolutions.gov Help Desk:
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For programmatic questions on this solicitation regarding programs in Laos and Cambodia, please contact Linnea Beatty at BeattyLM@state.gov or 202-632-2065. For questions regarding the portion of this solicitation related to Papua New Guinea, please contact Christina Li at LiCQ@state.gov or 202-261-8018. Once the deadline has passed, State Department officials and staff – both in DRL and at embassies overseas – may not discuss this competition with applicants until the entire proposal review process is completed.
East Asia and the Pacific: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Request for Statements of Interest: Land Rights Programs in Cambodia and Vietnam
Department of State
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Request for Statements of Interest: Land Rights Programs in Cambodia and Vietnam
I. Requested Proposal Program Objectives
The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) announces a Request for Statements of Interest (RSOI) from organizations interested in submitting Statements of Interest (SOI) outlining program concepts and capacity to manage projects that will support the bureau’s policy priorities of fostering marginalized populations’ community mobilization, documentation and advocacy skills to promote accountability and address land tenure issues and forcible displacement in Cambodia and Vietnam. DRL will invite select organizations that submit SOIs to expand their ideas in full proposals at a later date.
PLEASE NOTE: DRL strongly encourages applicants to access immediately www.grantsolutions.gov or www.grants.gov in order to obtain a username and password. GrantSolutions.gov is highly recommended for all submissions and is DRL’s preferred choice of receiving applications. For more information, please see DRL’s Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI) for Statements of Interest, as updated in October 2014, available at: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c12302.htm.
DRL invites organizations to submit SOIs for programs to conduct the following:
Land Rights Programs in Cambodia and Vietnam, approximately $495,000, pending availability of funding
DRL seeks programs to support land rights reformers in Cambodia and Vietnam. This program should take a regional approach, identifying successful strategies to resolve land disputes that can be replicated, and connecting activists to share these strategies to increase their influence on land-use decision-making and successful dispute resolution processes in the Lower Mekong.
Long-standing tensions around land rights have been exacerbated across Southeast Asia over the last decade. In Cambodia, legacies of the past, corruption, large infrastructure projects and ongoing weak rule of law and conflict resolution institutions have resulted in significant conflict over land rights. While Cambodia’s laws are relatively well developed, there are weak implementation and enforcement mechanisms. Specifically, a weak judiciary enables private companies and politically-connected individuals to secure land rights over large swaths of the arable land in Cambodia. This is often times in violation of Cambodia’s land law and related regulations, and at the expense of communities living on that land who are often forcibly evicted with little or no consultation or compensation. In Vietnam, pressure to support the State’s plans on land acquisition along with localized incentives for development, exclusion of the public from decision-making, lack of transparency in processes related to land distribution and compensation, and few opportunities for redress, all result in significant land-related conflicts.
To address these concerns, DRL seeks statements of interest for innovative strategies to promote the below objectives, which include, but are not limited to:
- Bringing key stakeholders together (civil society, government partners, and private investors) to resolve land-related disputes, through both alternative dispute resolution processes and/or litigation. Effective programs would promote dialogue and improved understanding of interests, positions, needs, challenges and areas for mutual cooperation, compromise and collaboration within a safe and neutral environment;
- Supporting strategic communication and community action between affected communities between Cambodia and Vietnam;
- Supporting increased access to legal representation for those affected by land confiscation;
- Encouraging transparency and inclusion in planning, development and post-resettlement processes, including for example, utilizing open forums within communities to engage relevant stakeholders in discussions; and
- Training civil society organizations to produce quality documentation which allows for tracking of patterns of incidences and response as well as document effective processes of mediation and redress.
In addition, DRL seeks proposals that emphasis potential ways to strengthen regional dialogue on land-tenure issues and further develop regional networks, prioritizing inclusion of local NGOs. Activities may also include strategies to address regional implications for development projects in one country that involve companies from another, as well as creating linkages between human rights and environmental movements across the region. DRL prefers programs that incorporate rights-based approaches to these issues.
SOIs which solely rely on such strategies as “naming and shaming” and highly public media campaigns – which often results in adversarial relationships and little progress – will not be viewed by DRL as competitive. Concepts may include those that have proven effective on a smaller scale and could potentially be replicated. Programming concepts that focus on urban and/or rural land rights challenges are welcome, including those that seek to protect collective lands and traditional cultural and religious practices as well as address urban development challenges.
Successful statements of interest will also demonstrate a clear understanding of existing U.S. Government and donor funded programs working in the same or similar areas, clearly articulating how a certain geographic or thematic approach is complimentary to ongoing efforts.
II. Background Information on general DRL funding and Statements of Interest
DRL supports programs that uphold democratic principles, support and strengthen democratic institutions, promote human rights, and build civil society around the world. Funds are available to support projects that have the potential to have an immediate impact leading to long-term sustainable reforms. Projects should have potential for continued funding beyond DRL resources. DRL prefers innovative and creative approaches rather than programs which simply duplicate or add to efforts by other entities.
The submission of a SOI is the first step in a two-part process. After reviewing SOIs, selected organization will be invited to expand their ideas into full proposals at a later date. The intention of requesting SOIs first is to provide organizations with additional time to focus on submitting creative and new ideas to foster marginalized populations’ community mobilization, documentation and advocacy skills to promote accountability and address land tenure issues and forcible displacement in Cambodia and Vietnam.
DRL will not consider SOIs that reflect any type of support for any member, affiliate, or representative of a designated terrorist organization, whether or not elected members of government.
The information in this solicitation and DRL’s PSI for Statements of Interest, as updated in October 2014, is binding and may not be modified by any DRL representative. Explanatory information provided by DRL that contradicts this language will not be binding. Issuance of the solicitation and negotiation of submission does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the Government. DRL reserves the right to reduce, revise, or increase proposal budgets in accordance with the needs of the program evaluation requirements.
This request for proposals will appear on www.grants.gov, www.grantsolutions.gov, and DRL’s website http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c12302.htm.
III. Eligibility Information:
Organizations submitting SOIs must meet the following criteria:
- Be a U.S.-based or foreign-based non-profit organization/non-government organization (NGO), or a public international organization; or
- Be a private, public, or state institutions of higher education; or
- Be a for-profit organization or business, although there are restrictions on payment of fees and/or profits to the prime recipient under grants and cooperative agreements, including those outlined in 48 CFR Part 30 (“Cost Accounting Standards”), 48 CFR Part 31 (“Cost Principles”), and 22 CFR 145.24(b)(3)(“Program Income”); and
- Have existing, or the capacity to develop, active partnerships with thematic partners or in-country partners, entities, and relevant stakeholders including industry and NGOs; and
- Have demonstrable experience administering successful and preferably similar projects. DRL reserves the right to request additional background information on organizations that do not have previous experience administering federal grant awards. These applicants may be subject to limited funding on a pilot basis.
Organizations may form consortia and submit a combined SOI. However, one organization should be designated as the lead applicant.
DRL’s preference is to work with non-profit entities; however there may be occasions when a for-profit entity is best suited. For-profit entities should be aware that its application may be subject to additional review following the panel selection process.
No entity listed on the Excluded Parties List System in the System for Award Management (SAM) is eligible for any assistance or can participate in any activities under an award in accordance with the OMB guidelines at 2 CFR 180 that implement Executive Orders 12549 (3 CFR Part 1986 Comp., p. 189) and 12689 (3 CFR Part 1989 Comp., p. 235), “Debarment and Suspension.”
Organizations are not required to have a DUNS (Data Universal Numbering System) number and an active SAM.gov registration to apply for this solicitation through GrantSolutions.gov. If a project is selected for further funding stages, these will need to be obtained.
IV. Application Requirements, Deadline, and Technical Eligibility
Applications must conform to DRL’s posted Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI) for Statements of Interest, as updated in October 2014, available at http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c12302.htm.
Complete SOI applications must include the following:
1. Completed and signed SF-424 and SF424B, as directed on GrantSolutions.gov or Grants.gov; and,
2. Executive Summary (not to exceed three  pages in Microsoft Word) that includes:
a) A table listing:
i. The target country/countries;
ii. The total amount of funding requested from DRL, total amount of cost-share (if any), and total program amount (DRL funds + cost-share); and,
iii. Program length;
b) A statement of work or synopsis of the program, including a brief statement on how the project will have a demonstrated impact;
c) A concise breakdown explicitly identifying the project’s objectives and the activities and expected results that contribute to each objective; and,
d) A brief description of the applicant(s) that demonstrates applicant(s) expertise and capacity to implement the program and manage a U.S. government award.
An organization may submit no more than two applications. Applications that request less than the award floor ($300,000) or more than the award ceiling ($495,000) will be deemed technically ineligible.
Technically eligible applications are those which:
1) Arrive electronically via GrantSolutions.gov or Grants.gov by 11:59 p.m. EST on December 12th.
2) Are in English;
3) Heed all instructions and do not violate any of the guidelines stated in this solicitation and the PSI for Statements of Interest.
Applicants should be aware that all awards made on or after 12/26/2014 will be made with terms and conditions subject to the OMB Uniform Guidance: Cost Principles, Audit, and Administrative Requirements for Federal Awards (2 CFR Chapter I, Chapter II, Part 200, et al.). Applications that are submitted before 12/26/2014 for Federal awards to be made on or after 12/26/2014 should be developed in accordance with the Uniform Guidance.
It is the sole responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all of the material submitted in the grant application package is complete, accurate, and current. DRL will not accept proposals submitted via email, fax, the postal system, or delivery companies or couriers. DRL strongly encourages all applicants, especially foreign or first-time applicants, to submit applications before December 12th to ensure that the application has been received and is complete.
V. Review and Selection Process
AQM will determine technical eligibility for all applications. All technically eligible applications will then be reviewed against the same three criteria by a Department of State Review Panel. Additionally, the Panel will evaluate how the application meets the solicitation request, U.S. foreign policy goals, and the priority needs of DRL overall. Panelists review each application individually against the evaluation criteria, not against competing proposals. To ensure all applications receive a balanced evaluation, the Department of State Review Panel will review the first page of the SOI up to the page limit and no further. DRL encourages organizations to use the given space effectively.
In most cases, the Department of State Review Panel includes representatives from DRL and the appropriate Department of State regional bureau, which may request feedback on applications from the appropriate U.S. embassies. In some cases, additional panelists may participate, including from other Department of State bureaus or offices, U.S. government departments, agencies, or boards, representatives from partner governments, or representatives from entities that are in a public-private partnership with DRL. At the end of discussion on an application, the panel votes on recommending the application for approval by the DRL Assistant Secretary. Once approved by the DRL Assistant Secretary, applicants of successful SOIs will be invited to submit a full proposal based on their SOI. Unless directed otherwise by the applicant, DRL may also refer SOIs for possible consideration in other U.S. government related funding opportunities. The Grants Officer Representative (GOR) for the eventual award does not vote on the panel.
Department of State Review Panels may provide conditions and recommendations on applications to enhance the proposed program, which must be addressed by the applicant before further consideration of the award. To ensure effective use of limited DRL funds, conditions or recommendations may include requests to increase, decrease, clarify, and/or justify costs and program activities.
1) Quality of Program Idea/Inclusivity of Marginalized Populations
SOIs should be responsive to the solicitation, appropriate in the country/regional context, and should exhibit originality, substance, precision, and relevance to DRL’s mission of promoting human rights and democracy. DRL typically does not fund programs that continue an organization’s ongoing work (funded by DRL or other sources), but prioritizes innovative, stand-alone programs. In countries where similar activities are already taking place, an explanation should be provided as to how new activities will not duplicate or merely add to existing activities and how these efforts will be coordinated. Projects that have a strong academic, research, conference, or dialogue focus may not be deemed competitive. DRL strongly discourages health or science related projects unless they have an explicit component related to the requested program objectives in the solicitation.
DRL strives to ensure its programs advance the rights and uphold the dignity of the most at risk and vulnerable populations, including women, youth, people with disabilities, racial and ethnic minorities, religious minorities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons. To the extent possible, applicants should identify and address considerations to support these populations in all proposed program activities and objectives as appropriate. Applicants should provide a strong justification if it determines it is not feasible or appropriate to incorporate the most at risk and vulnerable populations within proposed program activities and objectives. Applications that do incorporate the most at risk and vulnerable populations will be viewed favorably in this category.
2) Program Planning
A strong SOI will include a clear articulation of how the proposed program activities and expected results (both outputs and outcomes) contribute to specific program objectives and the overall program goal. Objectives should be ambitious, yet measurable, results‑focused, and achievable in a reasonable time frame.
3) Ability to Achieve Objectives
SOIs should address how the program will engage relevant stakeholders and should identify local partners as appropriate. If local partners are identified, applicants should describe the division of labor among the direct applicant and any local partners. SOIs should demonstrate the organizations’ expertise and previous experience in administering successful projects, preferably similar projects targeting the requested program area or similarly challenging program environments.
For additional guidance, please see DRL’s posted Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI) for Statements of Interest, as updated in October 2014, available at http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c12302.htm.
VI. Contact Information
GrantSolutions.gov Help Desk:
For assistance with GrantSolutions.gov accounts and technical issues related to using the system, please contact Customer Support at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-866-577-0771 (toll charges for international callers) or 1-202-401-5282. Customer Support is available 8 AM – 6 PM EST, Monday – Friday, except federal holidays.
For assistance with Grants.gov accounts and technical issues related to using the system, please call the Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726 or email email@example.com. The Contact Center is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, except federal holidays.
See http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/snow-dismissal-procedures/federal-holidays/#url=2014 for a list of federal holidays.
For technical questions related to this solicitation please contact For questions related to SOI submissions please contact Riva Kantowitz (KantowitzRB@state.gov), 202-632-2063 or Adrian Mangiuca (MangiucaA@state.gov), 202-663-2893.
With the exception of technical submission questions, during the solicitation period U.S. Department of State staff in Washington and overseas shall not discuss this competition with applicants until the entire proposal review process has been completed and rejection and approval letters have been transmitted.
And the Most Transparent Aid Donor Is…UNDP
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