Cambodian peacebuilders

The Cambodia Peace Museum will highlight the personal transformation of Cambodian peacebuilders and how their experiences with conflict became their motivation to work for peace, as part of the wider story of peace and reconciliation work in the country. The profiles below, part of the CPCS publication Resilience, are just some of the stories the museum will tell.


Sinthay 2by Seng Sakara

This series of 13 profiles of Cambodian peacebuilders illustrates how some individuals have transformed their experiences with conflict into motivation to build sustainable peace.

It is the culmination of interviews I conducted in the summer of 2011 on an undergraduate fellowship in Cambodia.  I had the wonderful opportunity to listen to the lives and advice of Cambodian peacebuilders, and their enthusiasm and willingness to share their history, feelings, and aspirations with me was more than I could have ever hoped for.

I found such insight in their advice that I struggled to convey concisely the beautiful and moving tales they gave me.

These writings are my attempt to share with others – Khmer, Khmer-Americans, and others interested – the lessons these peacebuilders shared with me and the realizations I had while listening.

Without their participation and support, I would not have learned about the conflicts facing Cambodia as a developing country nor gained a better understanding of my own family’s history.

This experience has been a transformation – thank you very much to the participants, the Haas Centre for Public Service of Stanford University, the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, and my family for making it possible.



Neb Sinthay

Sinthay began his work with weapons reduction in late 1998, doing fieldwork for a study on the feasibility of removing guns in Cambodian civil society. He says, “I joined the research because I was worried about the increase in gun-use in Cambodia.” He explains that it was especially apparent between1993 and 1998, the years between the UN sponsored elections and the coup d’etat, when armed robberies, brawls, and small conflicts would often end in bullet wounds. Sinthay’s participation in the study was crucial, as he was the mediator between arms dealers and the researchers: “I used my experience as a...
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Cheang Sokha

Sokha was eager to share his journal.  In it was an  assortment of quotes that he has been collecting for over 20 years.  He said that he doesn’t recall specific teachers who showed him how to be a leader or what to value in life, but that words from various books, politicians, and scholars are his guide.  When he was younger, he loved reading novels about protagonists who were “brave” and “fought for the people.” They became his role models. At 10 years old, Sokha survived the Khmer Rouge years. He grew up during the civil war, in an environment...
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Chea Vannath

For Vannath, neither her extensive activism for democracy nor her leadership in Cambodian civil society was part of any plan. Growing up in a devout Buddhist family, she was taught early on that change is the only certainty.  She did not dream of her future and says simply, “dreaming and planning is not my type…I choose day by day.” Vannath has spent almost 20 years helping to reconstruct and rehabilitate her war-torn country. As president of the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections in the early 90s, she monitored election processes in order to improve transparency. Then, as president of...
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