Motorcycle on a road in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Priority area Democracy, civil society and public administration Fostering decentralisation

Good governance is one of the most important prerequisites for sustainable development and successful poverty reduction in Cambodia. Germany is advising its Cambodian partners on decentralisation and on reforming public administration.

At the national level, the ministries responsible for these matters are being assisted in devolving tasks and decision-making powers to districts and municipalities, and in formulating minimum standards for the delivery of public services. The project is assisting local government entities and local-level specialised authorities in improving their services and in becoming more responsive and more transparent.

Within the framework of these administrative reforms, Germany is promoting merit-based pay for public sector officials. Supported by Germany, the Cambodian government is introducing new instruments for staff development and staff management.

Programme for strengthening civil society

In 2014, an operational framework was agreed between Cambodian civil society and the government: the Implementation Plan for the Social Accountability Framework. Supported by civil society, Cambodian citizens can access this framework to articulate where public services at the local level need to be improved (for example in the fields of education, health, water and sanitation), and reach agreements with the decentralised administrative authorities. Within this programme Germany is supporting the government side of service delivery in enhancing budget transparency and also in making legal decisions more transparent. Citizens’ forums help ensure that decisions within the public sector are made without discrimination and are responsive to people’s needs.

Addressing the legacy of the crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge

Torture chamber in Tuol Sleng, a former school in Phnom Penh, which was converted by the Khmer Rouge into a "re-education camp".

Torture chamber in Tuol Sleng, a former school in Phnom Penh, which was converted by the Khmer Rouge into a "re-education camp". Of the approximately 20,000 prisoners, only six or seven survived. Today Tuol Sleng is a museum and memorial against the genocide.

Torture chamber in Tuol Sleng, a former school in Phnom Penh, which was converted by the Khmer Rouge into a re-education camp. Of the approximately 20,000 prisoners, only six or seven survived. Today Tuol Sleng is a museum and memorial against the genocide.

In order for the country to be able to build up democratic and rule of law structures, Cambodian society as a whole needs to address the aftermath of the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge regime. The BMZ is therefore assisting programmes aimed at helping the people of Cambodia process what happened in the past and learn how to handle conflict without resorting to violence, and is also supporting the tribunal set up to deal with Khmer Rouge war crimes, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), which is composed of both international and Cambodian judges. In the meantime, the first defendants have been sentenced to life imprisonment and other leading figures in the Khmer Rouge are under investigation.

Through the BMZ and the Federal Foreign Office, the German government has so far provided about 17 million euros for the work of the ECCC, as well as for accompanying projects for reconciliation and justice.

The German NGO, Civil Peace Service, is making an important contribution towards reconciliation and dialogue across the whole of Cambodian society. It is assisting with the effort to investigate and prosecute the crimes committed from a judicial and from a historical perspective, is supporting the Toul-Sleng Genocide Museum, and reparation projects and out-of-court compensation measures, and is contributing through youth work and education activities towards creating a peaceful future for the country.