Remarks by Ms. Veena Reddy, Mission Director, USAID/Cambodia, Cambodian Civil Society Strengthening project closing

Speeches Shim

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

(as prepared for delivery)

  • Ms. Catherine Cecil, Chief of Party of Cambodian Civil Society Strengthening project 

  • Ladies and gentlemen

Chom Riep Suor!  Good Morning! 

I am thrilled to be with you this morning. This is a bittersweet occasion for me as it marks my last public event as Mission Director of USAID/Cambodia. I leave Cambodia this week after four incredible years and I am proud to say that the work of this country’s civil society has been an inspiration to me.

First - a few words of appreciation. I would like to thank our colleagues from the Cambodian Civil Society Strengthening project and Catherine Cecil for her leadership and counsel on civil society and its role in Cambodia. She has been a great source of advice and information to me and the project has benefited from that experience. Our partnership is now in its final year and I have heard from my colleagues about how it has helped Cambodian civil society promote democracy, transparency, and social accountability. I’m proud of our partnership and the lives that have improved as a result.  

As you will see in the film that will be screened shortly, the project has helped women, youth, indigenous communities, and marginalized groups to actively participate in the decisions that affect their lives. That participation has increased community members’ appreciation for the importance of accountability, transparency, and democratic governance. I have been privileged to meet with some of the organizations that have benefitted from the project and appreciate that it has reached communities well-beyond Phnom Penh. Thank you for your efforts. 

Second, and most importantly, I would like to recognize the efforts of civil society in promoting Cambodia’s development and prosperity.

Civil society plays an important role in the protection of fundamental freedoms in Cambodia and the U.S. government is committed its support. For instance, in addition to supporting civil society through the Cambodian Civil Society Strengthening project, we help a whole range of organizations that focus on human rights, support women entrepreneurs, and help youth participate in civic activities, among others. We also have frank discussions with the Cambodian government about our concerns regarding the treatment of civil society activists.

The work of civil society is not only important, but it also takes courage. Recently several young people were arrested for trying to raise awareness about environmental protection, which is a public service. We at the embassy are very troubled to hear of this and want to emphasize the importance of protecting constitutionally guaranteed freedoms and human rights. We have publicly supported these principles and will continue to do so.

I am happy to report that we will continue our support to civil society through existing awards and the recently awarded Civil Society Support project. That activity will complement existing support to labor,human rights defenders, and other civil society actors while building upon the great work that you have done and applying the lessons you have documented. Although I will not be here in Cambodia – I look forward to hearing how our collective efforts continue to give the unheard a voice, the unseen a presence, and the unempowered a future.  

Thank you and best of luck to all of you.

 
Issuing Country 

Last updated: July 20, 2021

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