It’s been over three years since Cambodia’s ruling party-controlled courts arbitrarily dissolved the country’s main opposition party and with it the last vestiges of democracy in what is now effectively a single-party dictatorship.
Following the Cambodia National Rescue Party’s dissolution in 2017, European Union foreign ministers threatened targeted sanctions. The European Commission warned the government that failure to backtrack on the human rights crackdown would jeopardize Cambodia’s trade benefits under the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme, which are subject to human rights conditionality. However, Prime Minister Hun Sen showed he cared more about maintaining his vice grip on power than possible repercussions for his country’s economy, and rejected the EU’s requests. In response, the Commission last year partially withdrew Cambodia’s EBA benefits. But the EU foreign ministers failed to act on their part, and their sanctions threat never materialized.