The Cambodia Project is partnering with the Cambodian Center for Mediation (CCM) to create a public policy, consensus building and dialogue project concerning local land use disputes.
Rachel Wohl, US
Katherine Triantafillou, Alan Gross, Laura McGrew
In February 2016, team members traveled to Cambodia to meet with CCM. The team’s visit included conducting interviews, holding focus groups and hosting a training session on the consensus -building dialogue approach.
The need for the program is urgent as land use disputes have grown in intensity and potential violence as farmers, with or without formal title to land, face increasing development pressures and evictions by businesses that have been granted land concessions via the government. Many legal structures are in place, but the breakdown in balancing rapid economic growth with a traditional agrarian culture has resulted in unrest and distrust among farmers, business owners, communities and the government.
MBBI and CCM were encouraged by several of the in-country interviews. Some government officials and NGO leaders feel the time is ripe to expand the use of ADR in Cambodia. The leaders of CCM – President Savath Meas and Executive Director Kakada Thorn– are well known and highly respected for their work training district government officials and others in using conflict resolution and mediation skills. As a result of MBBI’s visit, CCM is exploring possible village-level consensus-building pilot projects to resolve land disputes. If such a pilot project proved successful, CCM believes it could obtain support to train people as mediators in every province and teach them how to use consensus-building dialogues to resolve land disputes.
Consensus building involves convening multi-stakeholder representatives of all groups with a stake in a particular dispute, such as business and community leaders, farmers, NGOs, and officials of the district, local and provincial levels. Using this approach, MBBI is partnering with CCM to expand their existing work training mediators to include consensus-building dialogues. Cambodians are very familiar with “Samrop Samruhle,” a traditional reconciliation process used by village leaders to resolve certain conflicts, but mediation is not well known. Part of MBBI’s role is to help CCM educate high-level stakeholders and others about the benefits of mediation and why it can help them resolve a broad range of their conflicts.
MBBI plans to continue its partnership with CCM to mentor their work on land disputes, support its work to spread the practice of ADR in Cambodia and to expand the mediation services it offers to under-served neighborhoods in Phnom Penh.