The Truth About War and Peace in Cambodia

Some readings of the country’s history can be deceiving.

For decades, the official line from the United Nations and the bevy of international foreign ministers and diplomats who brokered the 1991 Paris Peace Accords was that their historical document ended the conflict that had afflicted Cambodia since the Khmer Rouge launched hostilities in 1968.

The problem for some journalists, academics, and those living on the ground in Cambodia is that that line never tallied with the realities of what actually happened. While the Paris Peace Accords were certainly significant for Cambodia, the country’s transition from tragic war to troubled peace actually took several more years to forge. More generally, memory of war and peace in Cambodia tends to be a more contested affair than is often appreciated, with certain aspects and dates commemorated by some more than others in line with their interests.

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