Under Royal Decree No. NS/RKM/0196/10, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MFAIC) was formally established on 24 January 1996. The ministry has a total of 17 main responsibilities, some of which include protecting the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, dignity, and prestige of the Kingdom of Cambodia, implementing Cambodia’s foreign policy, enhancing Cambodia’s relations with international communities, and representing Cambodia in bilateral and multilateral dialogue and cooperation, among others.1 Further reading is in Article 5 of Sub-Decree 274 ANKr.BK.
Cambodia’s foreign policy is oriented by five strategic missions, namely: 1) protect national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and neutrality; maintain peace, security, stability, order, and social unity; 2) foster more friendship abroad based on the spirit of national independence; 3) promote economic diplomacy; 4) continue to support and strengthen multilateralism; and 5) enhance the quality, efficiency, and capacity of Cambodian diplomats.2
As of 2023, the ministry is headed by His Excellency SOK Chenda Sophea, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Under the Minister are 19 Secretaries of State, 17 Under Secretaries of State, and 9 Director Generals.3 In addition to his position in MFAIC, H.E. Sok Chenda Sophea, in the 07th Legislature government, was elected as a member of the parliamentary (MP) in the constituency of Kandal province.4
The picture below shows the organizational structure of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, illustrating all the departments and sub-departments within the ministry.
Under Sub-Decree No. 274 ANK issued on 26 December 2016 by the Royal Government of Cambodia, the National Institute of Diplomacy and International Relations (NIDIR) was officially established under the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. The mission of the institution is to build the professionalism of Cambodian diplomats via capability development to equip them with skills in the field of diplomatic affairs, and to enhance Cambodia’s sovereignty and role in regional and international affairs. Its main vision is to become Cambodia’s Center of Excellence for diplomatic training and the top think-tank in the international affairs field.11
The institution is mandated with four main tasks, including 1) developing training and research programs on foreign affairs and international cooperation; 2) providing training in foreign languages; 3) conducting research to inform foreign policy and international cooperation; and 4) establishing partnerships with national and international institutions of diplomacy and international relations. Five main departments made up the institution, including the Department of General Affairs, the Department of Training, the Department of Research and Strategic Analysis, the Department of Public Relations, and the Department of Foreign Languages.12
In 2020, the National Institute of Diplomacy and International Relations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Asia Foundation on Collaboration and Capacity Building in Diplomacy and International Relations. The goal of the MOU is to strengthen, promote, and develop cooperation in the areas of international relations and diplomacy and support the government’s effort to enhance Cambodia’s relations with international communities.13
As of 2023, about 288 foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry. The top three countries from which the NGOs originated are the U.S. (97 NGOs), South Korea (41 NGOs), and Japan (28 NGOs). Most of the NGOs carry out projects related to education, social affairs, and agriculture, among other relevant developmental areas.14
Other international cooperation includes the United Nations, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Belt and Road Initiatives, the Mekong Cooperation Framework, Francophonie, ACD/CICA/ASEM, and CLV/CLMV/ACMECS, among others.15
As one of the five strategic missions mentioned above, economic diplomacy has been one of the top priorities for the ministry. The Royal Government of Cambodia has the vision of transforming the country into a high-middle-income country by 2030 and a high-income country by 2050, pushing its diplomacy to focus on economy, culture, and tourism. The main goal is to attract foreign investment, diversify investment sources, expand export markets for local products, attract tourists, and promote Cambodian culture to the world.16
The ministry plays a crucial role in realizing Cambodia’s pursuit of economic liberalization, open trade, and globalization while promoting multilateral trade with the World Trade Organization (WTO). It significantly contributes to the negotiation of free trade agreements, such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as well as with different markets, including the Republic of Korea and the Eurasian Economic Union.17 18
In 2020, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation enacted the Economic Diplomacy Strategy 2021-2023 to further Cambodia’s economic integration into the region and the world by strengthening bilateral and multilateral cooperation, diversifying sources of growth, expanding economic potential, and taking full advantage of new opportunities. Cambodia’s Economic Diplomacy Strategy focuses on the protection and promotion of national interests at the regional and international levels, securing economic prosperity and social development.19
Additionally, the ministry is also utilizing “Culinary Diplomacy” as it relates to the fourth priority of the Economic Diplomacy Strategy framework, which talks about the promotion of tourism, culture, and sports via the promotion of Cambodian tradition, culture, and gastronomy.20 In 2022, the ministry hosted a training course on “Culinary Diplomacy” for newly appointed ambassadors and chefs at Cambodia’s embassies abroad, emphasizing how food diplomacy can benefit Cambodia on the international stage.21 In the same year, the ministry also launched the “Angkor Kitchen” to promote Culinary Diplomacy by utilizing authentic Khmer dishes and desserts. His Excellency Prak Sakhonn, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, has stated that culinary diplomacy could be utilized as a soft power to promote commerce, cultural tourism, and exports in Cambodia.22
- 1. Royal Government of Cambodia, “Sub Degree no.274 on the preparation and operation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation,” accessed 29 September 2023.
- 2. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, “Cambodia’s Foreign Policy Direction,” accessed 2 October 2023.
- 3. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, “Organization,” accessed 2 October 2023.
- 4. Office of the Counsel of Ministries, “List of MPs who are elected in the national election of the National Assembly, the 07th Legislature 2023 [in Khmer], by constituencies,” accessed 20 October 2023.
- 5. Constitutional Council of Cambodia, “Constitutional Council of Cambodia,” accessed 19 October 2023.
- 6. Staff, Post, “Ung Huot – an Unplanned Rise to Fame,” 1995, accessed 20 October 2023.
- 7. Leang, Delux, “Mr. Ung Huot: From Prime Minister to pepper grower,” ThmeyThmey, 2015, accessed 20 October 2023.
- 8. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, “Curriculum Vitae,” 16 July 2011, accessed 20 October 2023.
- 9. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, “Curriculum Vitae,” 2018, accessed 20 October 2023.
- 10. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, “Curriculum Vitae,” accessed 19 October 2023.
- 11. NIDIR, “National Institute of Diplomacy and International Relations,” accessed 28 September 2023.
- 12. Ibid.
- 13. Tien, Kylie, “Cambodia’s National Institute of Diplomacy and International Relations and The Asia Foundation Sign MOU,” The Asia Foundation, 2 July 2020, accessed 28 September 2023.
- 14. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, “List of Foreign NGOs Which Signed MoU with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation,” accessed 2 October 2023.
- 15. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, “Home Page,” accessed 2 October 2023.
- 16. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, “Cambodia’s Foreign Policy,” accessed 2 October 2023.
- 17. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, “Economic Diplomacy,” accessed 10 October 2023.
- 18. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, “Economic Diplomacy Strategy 2021-2023,” 2021, accessed 10 October 2023.
- 19. Ibid.
- 20. Ibid.
- 21. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, “Training Course on Culinary Diplomacy,” 2022, accessed 10 October 2023.
- 22. Chea, Vanyuth, “Food Diplomacy Key to Promote Commerce, Tourism, Exports,” Khmer Times, 27 April 2023, accessed 10 October 2023.