It seems that history will always repeat itself, no matter what part of the world you live in. The reason the world has international institutions, like the United Nations, is so they can intervene in global conflicts. But as witnessed in the Rwanda genocides and the Darfur conflict, where reports sat on the desks of officials for months being ignored, the UN and other powerful nations are either too slow to react or ignore the issue altogether.
The same is happening in Cambodia, today. Even though the human rights violations that are happening in Cambodia today are nowhere as gruesome as the Rwandan genocides or the killings in Darfur, Cambodian do have one thing in common with these nations'they're being ignored. The only difference is in this case, these issues don't fall at the feet of the international community, but instead it lies at the feet of ASEAN, or the Association of South East Asian Nations.
Like the European Union, ASEAN is a union of South East Asian nations that pull for regional integration on both political and economic levels. The goal of ASEAN is just like that of the EU: social and cultural cooperation among nations within the Union. For ASEAN, this includes Cambodia, but instead of solving the human rights violations that are happening in Cambodia, they have been ignored and left to their own problems.
For years now, Cambodia has had problems dealing with lack or very low wages for Cambodian laborers, loss of family incomes, livelihoods, and widespread sex trafficking throughout the regions. These problems have only been made worse by the completion of ASEAN integration that will take place in 2015. For years, many rural workers in Cambodia have filed reports to the ASEAN summit to address the violations that are taking place in Cambodia, but these workers and other Cambodian victims have heard nothing from the ASEAN community.
What makes matters worse is that ASEAN has just recently adopted a regional human rights declaration. This fact, coupled with the lack of action from ASEAN puts many Cambodian activists on edge. With the plans for integration completion for 2015 in full effect, Cambodia will also take another hit. With this integration process, many member states of ASEAN will witness increased regional trade and investments, which will only serve to impact Cambodia's land policies negatively.
President Barack Obama, recently visited Cambodia to evaluate the situation and the annual summit of the Association of South East Asian Nations, finally acknowledged there was an issue, but they still have done nothing to resolve the situation. One can only hope that the major violations in Cambodia do not continue on a downward spiral and turn into a major regional conflict similar to that of Darfur, because then that would truly be a shame.