Web Page?

I was contemplating that the creation of a web page for either or both the project and minority rights in this country would be a good idea. This could make considerable documentation available to citizens and organizations. It would be cheep, help to facilitate access to policy literature and networking as well as integration of fragmented activities in government agencies and supporting organizations.
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And I do not think this is what I realistically could pursue in three month. In Ethiopia I learned that to make a difference and bring about change highly visible and communicative events such are sometimes a good vehicle. With regard to sequencing and pacing the strategic conflict may arise whether to address minority rights issues before there is the state capacity to enforce them. Based on the above indicated theories I mentioned that I would like to make the case for the integration of associated considerations at an early stage.
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Knowledge Management

At the first glance it appears to me that in the Cambodian political system in general and in government agencies in particular the bottleneck is not so much that research results are not existent, but not available. The bottleneck appears to be in large part access to and dissemination of existing research results. I do not think my project wants to deliver the sort of anthropological, sociological or ethnological research that really is lacking and necessary for policy making.
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Decentralization and Language

The policy implications are powerful, since political measures to overcome gender inequality are not meant to be permanent but measures to accommodate the culture of national minorities/indigenous peoples are meant to be persistent. Since language appears to be at the core of these problems (and because politics is bound to language) I intend to focus for the time being on decentralization and linguistic minorities.
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Neutral State?

This separation is not possible with regard to culture and particularly language. Since the government cannot but promote a particular language by using it in the societies institutions, it cannot be neutral with regard to culture. Women are for good reasons considered a disadvantaged group. However, we assume that once these inequalities are overcome, there won’t be a need for recognition or special provisions to promote women. However, this is not true with regard to rights given to members of groups to promote justice between cultural groups. Many theorists (and most likely people who are subject to assimilation policies) support the view that it is desirable to perpetuate the existence of associated differences.
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The Next Weeks

For these reasons, I intend to focus my research on these groups and associated policy problems for the next weeks. I tend to think I should exclude religious and gender minorities which can be separated from my issue in the following way: In (liberal) theory, there is the old idea that religious minorities can be accommodated by a strict divorce of state and religion (which, however, is not the case in Cambodia).
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The key to whether or not a cultural group is able to perpetuate their culture has been the question whether or not these groups are allowed to maintain societal institutions in their language. Regarding decentralization this might be associated with the question of whether or not these groups are provided the space in the legal and policy framework and whether or not their political and social institutions can (and should) be integrated into it. This I think is a largely a question of whether or not these institutions can be maintained in the mother language.
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“Highland People”

Although the largest ethnic minority groups are Vietnamese and Chinese descendants, Muslim Chams and ethnic Lao with the situation of the Vietnamese being particularly urgent. I believe so called ‘indigenous people’ pose a challenge specifically to decentralization because they live territorially concentrated. Furthermore, it is usually considered fair that immigrants learn the majority language of the country they immigrate to. But this is not true in the case of indigenous peoples.
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Eastern Europe

In Eastern Europe it turned out that development achievements are jeopardized by ethnic and nationalist conflict. Regarding sequencing, a strong case can be made from this and the above mentioned theories to incorporate minority rights consideration from the beginning in capacity building. This is, to oversimplify the argument, because ethnic and national conflict, mediated through nation-building appears to be in large part a function of capacity building itself. However, given the rather small proportion of cultural minorities in Cambodia the applicability of these insights is not clear.
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In my reading of current political theory there is the widely shared insight that the demand for minority rights should be seen as response to state nation-building, which is associated with policies to disseminate the majority culture (and language) throughout the territory of a given (nation-) state. Nation-building in this sense appears to be closely related to capacity building.

The normative implication is that (state) nation-building is important and legitimate but must be limited by protective rights for cultural minorities. And so is (state) capacity building. These group-differentiated rights in turn legitimize state nation-building. Such treatment should not be considered preferential, or privilege or special status. It rather compensates for disadvantages faced by minority groups that the dominant national group does not face. Among them prominently the threat of cultural extinction. And for the individual the risk to loose its cultural context to make free and meaningful choices, which is important in liberal political theory.
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In general, I feel there is not much recognition of the fact that Cambodia population is multiethnic and multinational and that there is quite a number of non-Khmer Cambodian citizens. I found the use and notion of the word ‘Khmer’ characteristic for this situation. Many people seem to use this term synonymous with Cambodian citizenship, also to my knowledge it refers to ethnicity and language.
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Anecdotal Research

Other than what I mentioned so fare I did not find much research on cultural minorities in Cambodia. The available literature stresses that the data is anecdotal particularly in Cambodia and maybe it is no coincidence that a volume currently co-edited by Will Kymlicka (“Asian Minorities and Western Liberalism”) features most countries in the region but not Cambodia. I assume this neglect is due to the fact that Cambodia is a relatively small country and culturally more homogenous than neighboring countries. However, these facts do not make it more likely that cultural minorities desire to assimilate into the mainstream society. Or less likely that they vehemently resist such demands
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Will Kymlicka

Regarding my perspective on this issue, there has been a lively debate only recently on multicultural citizenship, the ‘politics of recognition’, the rights of minority cultures, the desirability of group-differentiated rights and so on in (Western liberal) political theory. This reflects that associated conflicts came to the forefront of politics in many parts of the world. Although groups are recognized in the constitution and political practice of many countries, this has happened in a theoretical vacuum. I believe there are few well-thought theories yet, and Will Kymlicka is certainly the author of one of them. I have been planning to write my final thesis on his theory and spend quite some time reading his books. His homepage is a great source of information.
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Land Law

I met the land law project’s intern Katrin Seidel yesterday in the evening. She has been working on indigenous people and land law for a couple of month and will leave in the middle of September. She has spent a couple of weeks in several provinces. She told me that the both the Department for Ethnicity and Inter-Ministerial Committee for Highland Peoples Development are not functional. However, her focus appears to be strictly on the land law issue.
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