Hun Sen, the great survivor

Hun Sen’s Cambodia Sebastian Strangio, Yale University Press, £20.00

The World Today Updated 19 February 2021 Published 5 December 2014 2 minute READ

Bertil Lintner

Analyses South East Asian Affairs from Thailand

The intervention in Cambodia by the United Nations in the early 1990s was one of the costliest in the organization’s history. Some $1.6 billion was spent on an international effort involving more than 20,000 peacekeepers, observers and administrators from over 40 nations.

At the time, everyone involved seemed convinced that it was worth it. Peace was going to be restored in a country devastated by decades of civil war, starvation and genocide. Free and fair elections would be held leading to a new, democratic constitution, and a transition to a marketoriented economy, which would lift the country out of abject poverty.

As Sebastian Strangio concludes in his excellent account of Cambodia’s recent history, the population may be better off economically today than 20 years ago, but the country has, since the UN-supervised election in 1993, ‘slipped steadily backward into neoauthoritarian rule under its Prime Minister Hun Sen’.

Subscribe to read all issues

Articles from the current issue are free to read by all, the archive is exclusive to magazine subscribers and our members. Subscribe or become a member to view articles from the archive.