Land & Natural Resources 

Problem & Context

Cambodia is a predominantly agrarian society, and the vast majority of its citizens depend on land and natural resources, such as forests and fisheries, to sustain their livelihoods. In rural Cambodia, land is also deeply connected to the cultural and spiritual life of indigenous and non-indigenous communities. Increasingly, land and natural resources are facing significant economic development pressures; particularly from agricultural conversion, mining, infrastructure such as roads and dams, and through continued land grabbing. National and international investors continue to exert tremendous pressure on the government to grant concessions which threaten to seriously undermine the integrity and continued existence of land rights, food security and sustainable livelihoods.

The absence of security of tenure, in the context of endemic corruption and a rapid influx of foreign investment and economic development, has resulted in a land rights crisis in Cambodia. Private firms now control more than 3.9 million hectares of land [1]; more than 22 percent of Cambodia's total surface area. More than 700,000[2]Cambodians have been affected over the last two decades. Further increasing is the use of criminal charges and deadly force against those who assert their rights and access to land and natural resources.


[1] Data provided by LICADHO and reported by Cambodia Daily on March 10-11 (2012), available at: Up Cambodia.pdf

[2]Paul Vrieze and Kuch Naren, Carving Up Cambodia (2012), p.9, available at: