8th Meeting of the Government-Donor Coordination Committee (GDCC)
on 5 October 2006
Intervention on Land Conflicts by H.E. Pius Fischer, Ambassador of Germany

Your Excellency Chairman Senior Minister, Excellencies, Colleagues.

On behalf of development partners, allow me the following remarks:

Development partners remain concerned about the continuous negative impact of land conflicts on Cambodia’s development. As the Prime Minister and donors have stated on several occasions, the proliferation of unresolved conflicts about land have the potential to create social unrest. Moreover these ongoing disputes hamper Cambodia’s progress towards reaching the Cambodian Millennium Development Goals and reducing inequality. Land grabbing widens the gap between the poor and the rich and contributes to the growing number of landless people deprived of even the most meagre source of income. New poverty is also created among the victims of forced evictions, who in many cases do not receive fair and just compensation according to Article 5 of the Land Law.

The management of land and natural resources, especially the handling of land conflicts, is a major social concern. The weak implementation of existing law and the impunity of those violating it raise doubts about the political determination and rigour to strengthen the rule of law in this important area. The adoption of good laws is not enough. The Land Law of 2001 is a good law, but the letter of the law is often not enforced. This seems to be the case particularly when powerful vested interests are involved, even though important examples have been stated by the prosecution of two high ranking officials in Rattanakiri and Kampot.

We would like know whether the recent creation of the National Authority for the Resolution of Land Disputes, had produced tangible results on preventing the further spread of land disputes. Furthermore, its relationship with the jurisdiction of cadastral commissions and the courts needs clarification as it raised general legal concerns.

For indigenous communities, expropriation from their traditional land leads to social disintegration. The granting of economic land concessions over indigenous land will have serious economic, social and cultural consequences for indigenous communities, and impacts upon the availability of land for registration of indigenous collective title. Progress so far seems insufficient to meet the Joint Monitoring Indicator, which envisages that the Royal Government of Cambodia adopts a strategy and necessary regulations for indigenous people until end of 2006. Clarifying the process of registration of collective titles over indigenous land should be a priority. While this is taking place, there is an urgent need to enforce measures to protect indigenous land, and declare a moratorium on further land sales or alienation, including through economic land concessions.

We are aware of some progress with regard to land registration and first steps to increase transparency through the disclosure of some information on Economic Land Concessions. We are not aware of any progress in granting social land concessions. Development partners urge the Royal Government of Cambodia to step up its efforts to stop land grabbing and illegal dealings in land, and to enforce the land rights of all Cambodian citizens.
 Thank you

Home | 8th CG Meeting | 7th CG Meeting | Partnership and Harmonization TWG | GDCC | Policy Documents Guidelines | Donor Dev. Coop. Pgm. | NGO