Cambodia and Sweden established their diplomatic ties in 1961. Sweden started to provide the first development cooperation support in terms of humanitarian and emergency assistance to Cambodia in 1979 after the Khmer Rouge regime,1 focusing on saving lives, alleviating suffering, and maintaining human dignity for those affected by armed conflicts, natural disasters, or similar conditions.2
The Swedish government announced that the Embassy of Sweden in Phnom Penh would be closed on 30 November 2021, but the embassy affirmed that the diplomatic relations between the nations would continue.3 The development cooperation with Cambodia will be led by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), Sweden’s government agency for international development cooperation and poverty and oppression reduction, and will be in the form of a section office in Phnom Penh.4
The development cooperation with Cambodia was established in June 2020, regulated by the strategy for Sweden’s development cooperation with Asia and the Pacific, decided by the Swedish Government, and implemented by Sida.5
In 2021, Sida supported 196.3 million SEK as its development assistance to Cambodia. It has contributed to strengthening human rights, democracy, and the rule of law for a more open and sustainable society in Cambodia. It has supported many other programs collaborating with civil society organizations and non-state actors.6
- Strengthening civil society
- Raising the level of education
- Providing opportunities for young researchers
- Reducing gender inequality in law programs
- Solving labor disputes
- Guiding young Cambodians to their dream job.
Swedish development aid is often conducted through international organizations like the United Nations and European Union, which aims to help poor people to improve their living standards.7
The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected Cambodia’s economy, resulting in an increase in poverty and unemployment.8 The response of Sweden to the pandemic can be adapted based on the needs and the principles of democracy and human rights, gender equality, equity, transparency, and evidence-based.9
In collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, along with other stakeholders, Sweden has supported the quality of education in Cambodia for COVID-19 recovery.10 In early 2021, as part of the government’s COVID-19 transmission prevention efforts, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, with support from UNICEF and Sweden, provided 35,055 textbooks to north-western provinces, allowing 32,486 students to continue their studies. The Ambassador of Sweden to Cambodia, His Excellency Björn Häggmark, said that “Education is a fundamental human right, but COVID-19 continues to disrupt the schooling of thousands of children in Cambodia. Sweden is glad to assist with this important emergency response, ensuring girls and boys on the COVID-19 frontlines have adequate learning resources to continue their studies.”.11
Under the Building an Enabling Environment for Sustainable Development in Cambodia (BESD) project, Sweden provided 4.3 million SEK (almost half a million USD) to financially support rural communities in Cambodia. The initiative aimed to engage more than 1,600 rural households in Siem Reap and Pursat provinces to establish nurseries, plant local trees, and be involved in other conservation activities. It would provide employment opportunities for the communities and support tree-planning activities during the pandemic.12
- 1. Bunna Vann, “Why Sweden chose to shut its embassy in Cambodia,” The Diplomat, 09 December 2020, accessed on December 2022.
- 2. Embassy of Sweden, “Development cooperation,” accessed on December 2022.
- 3. Khmer Times Staff, “Sweden’s good relations with Cambodia to continue in the new form of section office,” Khmer Times, 17 September 2021, accessed on December 2022.
- 4. Bunna Vann, “Why Sweden chose to shut its embassy in Cambodia,” The Diplomat, 09 December 2020, accessed on December 2022.
- 5. Embassy of Sweden, “Development cooperation,” accessed on December 2022.
- 6. Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, “Sida’s work in Cambodia,” 03 July 2021, accessed on December 2022.
- 7. Embassy of Sweden, "Development cooperation," accessed on December 2022.
- 8. Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, "Sida's work in Cambodia," 03 July 2021, accessed on December 2022.
- 9. Embassy of Sweden, "Economic and social development," 24 June 2020, accessed on December 2022.
- 10. Gregers Møller, "Sweden support quality education throughout Cambodia’s Covid-19 recovery," ScandAsia, 08 November 2021, accessed on December 2022.
- 11. UNICEF, "Cambodia, Sweden and UNICEF unite to protect the education of children whose schools have become quarantine centres," 24 February 2021, accessed on December 2022.
- 12. Khmer Times Staff, "Sweden grants Covid-19 relief funds to Cambodia," Khmer Times, 26 October 2020, accessed on December 2022.