Since the 1980s, CIDSE Cambodia played an important role in advocacy, lobbying the international community to support Cambodia’s reconstruction and rehabilitation after the tremendous destruction by the Khmer Rouge, and supporting Cambodians’ right to live with peace, justice and democracy. CIDSE Cambodia’s advocacy work focused on different issues according to the situation:
- During the 1980s, it focused on lobbying the international community to end the isolation of Cambodia.
- In December 1994, the Development Education and Advocacy (DEA) Unit was established to advocate on the key issues of land mines, human rights and environmental protection.
- After an organisational restructuring in 1997, the responsibility for advocacy was distributed throughout the organisation, but the commitment remained.
- In 2003, the CIDSE Advocacy Support Group (ASG) was established to address the needs of community target beneficiaries and partner organisations. The ASG discussed issues raised by communities and partners and linked them to appropriate networks and campaigns at provincial and national levels.
During the strategic planning period of 2003–05, CIDSE Cambodia was part of an active advocacy network with NGO Forum on Cambodia, Community Based Natural Resource Management, Community Legal Education Centre (CLEC) and Working Group on Partnership in Decentralisation (WGPD) that focused on the issues of land, forestry, gender, decentralisation and good governance.
The advocacy strategies of CIDSE Cambodia were to build the capacities of its staff, partners and community target beneficiaries; to build and join advocacy networks with like-minded organisations and media; to support advocacy initiatives, helping to link the issues of the community to appropriate networks; to issue joint statements with other NGOs; and to organise advocacy campaigns, roundtable discussions and public forums on specific issues of land, forestry and human rights.
In 2005, CIDSE Cambodia organised four strategic planning workshops to develop its organisational and programme strategies for the period 2006–08. Thematic groups were organised to study the factors affecting the development environment of Cambodia as well as the lives of the target beneficiaries and the development work of partners.
To address the issues faced by the target communities and improve the quality of advocacy, CIDSE Cambodia staff proposed to re-establish the Development Education and Advocacy (DEA) unit in order to continue the advocacy role undertaken during 1980–2005. This change took effect on January 1, 2006. The unit leads DPA’s contribution to a just, equitable and democratic Cambodia by strengthening the capacity and rights of target beneficiaries and partners.
The Development Education and Advocacy Unit focuses on two aspects: strengthening development education on gender, decentralisation and local governance and strengthening advocacy on issues related to land and logging that arises in the target areas of DPA and its partners.
The unit uses a rights-based approach, working closely with the Integrated Community Development (ICD) and Partner Development (PD) and collaborating with concerned NGOs and media to educate on and advocate for the rights of target beneficiaries and partners.