Cord has provided training to human rights defenders (HRDs) and local organisations in Cambodia since 2015. This is helping them to develop the skills, knowledge, and confidence to consult citizens whose livelihoods and environment are at risk, and to communicate community grievances when participating in discussions with government representatives.

Instead of confronting the government, local organisations and HRDs now recognise the importance of adopting more measured approaches to participating in consultations and decision-making processes.

One of these organisations is the Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community (CCFC), a community group that promotes and raises awareness of the land rights of local communities across Cambodia. One of CCFC’s members is Soucheng, a HRD based in Tbong Khmum province’s Memot district.

For the past 10 years, Soucheng has been campaigning to persuade the government to award land titles to 500 landless local families. However, for much of this time, she was not clear how best to secure the cooperation of the government beyond staging demonstrations to draw attention to ongoing land disputes and has struggled to make progress.

Soucheng’s lack of self-confidence when contacting government authorities had proven to be one of her biggest challenges but through Cord’s regular training sessions, Soucheng’s confidence levels have grown significantly. Cord and CCFC have also worked together to facilitate opportunities for dialogue between Soucheng, other HRDs and the government.

In April 2016, Soucheng presented the government with a petition for the granting of land rights accompanied by representatives of her community, each of whom committed to demonstrating peacefully. This marked an important turning point. Over the course of the year, Soucheng continued to put in place the knowledge, skills and confidence she had developed.

On 20th April 2017, Soucheng tearfully explained that she had been notified that land titles would be awarded to 434 households in her community.

“Without support from Cord and CCFC, I would not have been successful today. My communities are now empowered to talk about their land issues…without land, we had nothing.”