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S. Nem: Address to World Summit 2017

Address to World Summit 2017, Seoul, Korea, February 1 to 5, 2017


Given my background in the defense sector, in the military (“man in uniform”), to be exact, I would like to explain the reasons why participating in the World Summit, today, is of particular interest to me.   

Cambodian people have a proverb: “Hearing a hundred times is still not equally matched to seeing just one time”.

I am very interested in the slogan of UPF, which is related to peace, security and human development. I trust that by attending this Summit, I will have a lot to take away that is very important and useful for myself, my knowledge and my country.

Cambodia suffered from war for many decades. As Cambodians, we understand very well about the value of peace, and we are now trying our best to maintain peace for our beloved country and for our beloved people.  

After some discussions, some sharing of opinions during the plenary sessions that have taken place from the beginning of the World Summit until now, we have learned many things that are of relevance to peace, security, and human development.

Many delegations from around the world are here and have brought with them to share their own experiences, comments and vision of strategies that will enable us to find and maintain peace in the world.

There is one more thing I wish to add; it is ethics. Here I wish to refer to the ethics with which we carry out our daily activities in society. I wish to share with you examples drawn from my past experiences from

  • having lived through and grown up during war;
  • having participated with  the United Nations Transitional Authority (UNTAC) to find peace for Cambodia,
  • having taken part in the implementation of the "Win Win Policy," which was initiated by Samdech Techo Hun Sen, prime minister of Cambodia, "to make enemy become friends" and lastly,
  • from having initiated and helped organize the peacekeeping missions in Cambodia with the United Nations.    
  1. Firstly, I wish to focus on the importance of ethics in a cultural sense, and that needs looking no further than within our home and our family.

To build a strong family, we understand there are several key points that are important, including forgiveness, love, unity, and the last one, which I think is very important, is the harmonization of the core beliefs and core values of everyone. If we think of the world as our one family, ethical values, norms and cultural adaptation, empathy, and cultural harmony play vital roles during this period of globalization.  

  1. Secondly, please allow me to take you briefly into Cambodia.  Cambodia is comprised of many ethnic groups of different religions, such as Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, as well as local beliefs. These groups are living together in harmony without any prejudice, discrimination or any obstacles that can lead to conflict. Cambodia is a special case. The civil war that occurred in this country during the last several decades was not caused by religious conflict. In this sense, Cambodia has never had any religious conflict. With good governance, this kind of conflict has never occurred.

During the Khmer Rouge period , the regime abolished and destroyed all religions and forced all of us to stop believing in and respecting any god, or following any religion. Nevertheless, the core belief of the Cambodian people could not be destroyed, even during this period, the darkest in Cambodian history. After that regime, and when the war was over, all of our people resumed practicing their faith and upheld their own beliefs once again. 

  1. From my personal point of view, in seeking for peace in this world, we should think about precautionary and preventative measures. It is better to have these measures in place than waiting until there is a war, and then taking defensive measures. This means that we need to look into elements that can contribute to war. These elements are key indicators and they can trigger the creation of conflicts. For example, an increase in unemployment, an increase in the population of youth, and the economic and human development situation, just to name a few. In today’s setting, these elements are of a traditional and non-traditional nature and we must prepare ourselves for the things we cannot foresee. I do agree with the UPF committee on the policy of “not to discriminate.”
  1. Cambodia experienced civil war for almost four decades (from the late 1960s until the late 1990s). From 1975 to 1979, during the Khmer Rouge regime, nearly 2 million of the Cambodian population—including professors, doctors, officers, soldiers and innocent people—were killed. (From 1991 to 1993, the United Nations issued a mandate under its peacekeeping mission in Cambodia, called “UNTAC,” so that we could finally organize our first historical national election to create a multi-government).  

However, the Khmer Rouge forces were still fighting against the government forces and maintained strongholds along the border of the country. In order to establish peace in the country, Samdech Techo Hun Sen, the then prime minister of Cambodia, established a new policy dialogue that embraced harmonization, namely, the “Win Win Policy.” This provided guarantees of three rights to all members of conflicting parties to end the war: 

1) the guarantee for the right to life (a guarantee of personal safety and the safety of their families upon reconciliation),

2) the guarantee for the right to have a career, and 

3) the guarantee for rights to own their property.

It was not until 1998 that the Khmer Rouge decided to fully integrate into the central government, which enabled Cambodia to attain total peace until now. 

Today, we can say in Cambodia that we are a peaceful country and we are working on rebuilding and developing our country. 

  1. In the international arena, over 5,000 Cambodian peacekeeping forces have been sent to UN peacekeeping missions in Lebanon, Mali, South Sudan and Central Africa.

Accordingly, on behalf of our most senior delegates from the senate, the parliament and ministries of Cambodia, I am pleased to be here to share my knowledge and experience with all of you, but also gain knowledge and new ideas from you about the value of peace. 

Last, but not least, I would like to highly commend the great work the Universal Peace Federation is doing, and I wish you all the very best and success for your missions in maintaining peace for the world.  I wish to leave you with my perspective: 


មានអំពេីល្អច្រេីនយ៉ាងដែលយេីងអាចធ្វេីបាន និង


នោះគឺយេីងអាចរស់នៅបានដោយសន្តិភាព និងក្តីសុខហេីយ។  

The world holds many beautiful places for us

There are many good deeds that are possible to do, and

There are many good friends in whom we can confide

That is the life we can lead in peace and happiness.  


Gen. Dr. Sowath Nem, Cabinet Director, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Cambodia

Gen. Dr. Sowath Nem is currently serving as Advisor and Director of the Cabinet Office of Deputy Prime Minister Tea Banh of Cambodia. He is also the Director-General of the General Department of Foreign Policy and Foreign Affairs, Ministry of National Defense. He has published articles on a wide range of issues, including peace, national security studies, and regional and international security. He was awarded Cambodia’s highest decoration, the National Merit Medal, in 2010.

To go to the 2017 World Summit Conference Schedule, click here.