Northeastern Provinces

I feel the northeastern provinces are of particular relevance since ‘highland peoples’ are estimated to be in the majority in these provinces and thus pose a special challenge to both the current decentralization exercise and democracy. One benefit attributed to decentralization is the accommodation of local difference. This seems to be particularly challenging when a different language than the official one is involved, particularly given the rigid language provision in the Cambodian constitutional context. This poses severe challenges to decentralization and I don’t think it is well understood what ‘participation’, ‘civil society’, ‘capacity building’ and so on means in such linguistic and cultural circumstances. And I doubt that there are well established best practices. The rights of minority cultures are associated with very sensitive issues such as land rights, language rights, educational curriculum, regional autonomy, self government up to self-determination and most notorious secession which all are in one way or the other related to decentralization.

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