The Foreign Affairs Ministry expects to complete construction on its first training institute for local diplomats in the next 18 months, officials said Monday.
Foreign Affairs Ministry spokes-man Chum Sounry said work on the National Institute for Diplomatic and Relations of International Study began in December.
The cost of the new building, which will be located within the ministry’s campus near the National Assembly in Phnom Penh, will come from the ministry’s budget, though Mr. Sounry did not know how much it would cost.
He said the project was set in motion after the ministry hired an influx of new employees who required specific training to properly perform their jobs.
“One of the most important priorities of Cambodia’s foreign policy is to improve Cambodia’s regional and international integrity among other international organizations,” he said. “Success in foreign policy requires fast development in human resources.”
The institute will primarily train Foreign Affairs Ministry employees, but would also offer trainings to officials in other ministries, Mr. Sounry added.
Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhon brought up the construction project with Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Australia’s minister for international development and the pacific, during her visit on Thursday, according to a statement from the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Mr. Sokhonn was quoted as saying that he intends to develop a relationship between Cambodia’s diplomatic institute and the Australian Institute of International Affairs, a nonprofit think tank in Australia.
“We would be able to exchange diplomatic experiences,” Mr. Sounry said of the proposed partnership.
Hang Vitou, director of the Young Analysts Group, a consortium of budding political commentators, said he hoped the new institute would offer merit-driven schooling to those looking to begin diplomatic careers.
“If the [ministry] does it only to nurture some powerful people, and to recruit their own group, it won’t benefit the country,” Mr. Vitou said “If the purpose of building it is to really benefit the country, I applaud it.”
As is the case across the CPP government, the Foreign Affairs Ministry has a record of sons with powerful fathers shooting up the ranks. Long Dimanche, the son of Long Visalo, a secretary of state at the ministry, was last year made the ambassador to South Korea despite having little diplomatic experience.