Dr Raoul M. Jennar, PhD in political science, has been involved in Cambodia for more than 30 years. He has worked as a consultant to NGOs, the UN, UNESCO, the European Union, and to the Cambodian government on border issues.
As a political analyst who lives in Phnom Penh, do you think the partial withdrawal of Everything But Arms trade preferences will achieve the EU’s goal of improving, what it said, is a concerning human rights situation?
No. I don’t think so. First, because, generally speaking, sanctions applied for political reasons do not work. And EU sanctions are seen as eminently political. Cambodian authorities see themselves as victims of EU double standards policy. The EU says there is no political pluralism in Cambodia, but it has preferential trade agreements with countries where the political system is based on a single party.
The EU denounces alleged human rights violations in Cambodia but treats gently a country where the UN has declared that there have been recently crimes against humanity and genocide. The EU claims to defend human rights but supports Cambodian politicians who have built their popularity on an exacerbated racist nationalism that would be unanimously condemned in Europe. When EU senior officials who prepared the decisions on EBA belong to the same international political organisation of those politicians who behave against the law, EU decisions are politically motivated. For these reasons, the EU has lost all credibility with the Cambodian authorities.