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Briefing / May 14, 2013

Global Witness and Cambodia – key moments

In early 1995, Global Witness carried out its first investigations in Cambodia and Thailand, exposing how the illegal timber trade across the border was bankrolling the war effort of the Cambodian Government and Khmer Rouge rebels.

Posing as timber buyers on the Thai-Cambodia border, the three founders showed how the country’s monthly timber trade with Thailand was worth between US$10-20 million, ultimately triggering the closure of the border.  This resulted in the removal of their remaining source of funding, which played a significant role in forcing the Khmer Rouge into the peace process – because it no-longer had the resources to fight.

Since then, we have taken a similar mix of investigations and advocacy to many other countries, and continued our work in Cambodia. We have shown how the country’s political and business leaders have exploited the country’s natural resources for personal profit and to shore up their own positions of power. Unfortunately, apart from some notable moments of exception, Cambodia’s international donors have turned a blind eye and maintained their finance for essential state services such as infrastructure, healthcare and education, whilst Cambodia’s political elite have continued to loot the country for their own gains.

Follow the timeline below to find out more: