For general information about the country profiles click here.
HDI ranking: 138/187
HDI score: 0.543
After several decades of internal conflict, Cambodia has pursued decentralization policies. The process has been extended to provinces/municipalities and their district/khan subdivisions (Smoke and Morrison).
Local governance at a glance
- Below the provincial and district levels are 1,630 elected commune and sangkat councils (urban communes) (UCLG, 2010).
- Established in 2008, the National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development (NCDD) is the interministerial body that promotes democratic development through decentralization (NCDD, 2013).
- Local citizens directly elect representatives to the communes and sangkats. Those councils then elect District/Municipality and Provincial Councils (UCLG, 2011).
- While there are no legislated gender quotas, the government has committed to the Millenium Development Goal of promoting gender equality. The target is to increase female representation in the Commune/Sangkat Councils to a minimum of 25% by 2015 (CCHRC, 2012).
Civil society actors include
- The Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL) works toward increasing citizen participation in local democratic development (COMFREL, 2014).
- Community Capacities for Development (CCD) focuses on capacity building at the grassroots level (CCD, n.d.).
- The Cambodian Civil Society Partnership (CCSP) promotes decentralization and effective local governance (CCSP, 2013).
Capacity building institutions
- The National League of Communes/Sangkats (NLC/S) is an association that works to enhance the status and capacity of Communes/Sangkat Councils, helping to create effective, transparent, sustainable, and self-reliant decentralized administrations (NLC/S, 2012).
- The Provincial Association of Commune/Sangkat Councils works toward the same goals for the provincial level of the government (UCLG, 2008).
- Communes account for less than 5 percent of total public expenditures (UCLG, 2010).
- The Law on SubNational Fiscal Regime and Property Management passed in 2011, aims to create sources of finance for sub-national government bodies for sufficient means to carry out local development (Cambodian National Budget, 2013).
Key initiatives for participatory local governance
- The National Program for SubNational Democratic Development (NPSNDD) was founded in 2008 as a ten year, comprehensive plan for governance reform of subnational administrations (NCDD, 2014).
- The government established an Organic Law on Decentralization and Democratic Development in 2009. This created indirectly elected councils at the provincial and district level (UCLG, 2010).
- Commune councils must prepare a five year Development Plan as well as a three year Investment Program. To achieve these plans, each council appoints a committee including male and female representatives from each village, commune councilors, and one representative from every NGO registered with the council (Smoke, 2008).
Challenges for participatory local governance
- Fiscal decentralization has been focused primarily on funding provisions for the communes with little emphasis on the reformation of provincial and municipal governance bodies (CDRI, 2011).
- Though the legal framework and overall strategy for decentralization has been established, there are few details on implementation (Smoke, 2008).
- Freedom House, a global, bipartisan organization focused on the promotion of democracy, condemned post-election violence in 2013 calling police attacks on protesters “a setback for democracy” (Freedom House, 2013).
Recent posts on this website about this country:
- Good Governance Begins with the Individual (2014)
- DELGO’SEA : partnership for democratic local governance in Southeast-Asia (2012)
- Innovations for decentralization and local development (IDLD) : Cambodia : final project evaluation by using Special programme implementation review (SPIRE) approach (2012)
- Survey results : advanced seminar – decentralisation and local governance : session 1.2 (2012)
- Democracy in action : decentralisation in post-conflict Cambodia (2012)
- Commune-based land allocation for poverty reduction in Cambodia : achievements and lessons learned from the project: Land allocation for social and economic development (LASED) (2012)
- Women’s leadership : a case study from Cambodia (2011)
- Common-pool resources, livelihoods, and resilience : critical challenges for governance in Cambodia (2011)
- Titling against grabbing? : critiques and conundrums around land formalisation in southeast Asia : paper (2011)
- Real democratization in Cambodia? : an empirical review of the potential of a decentralization reform (2011)
List of sources:
Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHRC), 2012: “Female Political Representation and Electoral Gender Quota Systems.”
Cambodian Civil Society Partnership (CCSP), 2013: http://www.ccspcambodia.org/index.php/overview.
Cambodian Development Resource Institute (CDRI), 2011: “Fiscal Decentralization in Cambodia: A Review of Progress and Changes.”
Cambodian National Budget, 2013: “Law on Public Finance.”
Community Capacities for Development (CCD), n.d.: http://www.ccdcambodia.org/.
Freedom House, 2013: “Post-election violence in Cambodia a setback for democracy.”
The Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL), 2014: http://www.comfrel.org/eng/.
The National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development (NCDD), 2014. “National Program.”
The National League of Communes/Sangkats (NLC/S), 2012: http://www.nlcs.org.kh/Page/EN/index.html.
Smoke, P. and J. Morrison, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, 2008: “Decentralization in Cambodia: Consolidating Central Power or Building Accountability from Below?”
United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), 2008: “Asia Pacific.”
United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), 2010: “Local Government Finance: The Challenges of the 21st Century.”