Stanford Law School and Sok Xing & Hwang Discuss Strengthening Legal Infrastructure in Cambodia

On 22 March 2016, Sok Xing & Hwang received a delegation from Stanford Law School, the United States, headed by Megan Karsh, Executive Director of the school’s Rule of Law Program. The five-member delegation conducted a field visit to Cambodia for a project to upgrade the quality of a selected program of Royal University of Law and Economics to attain international accreditation.

During the meeting, the SXH’s Managing Director, Sok Lor, offered his insights into the historical and socio-economical landscape of legal education and legal profession in Cambodia. Mr. Lor stressed the needs for Cambodia to attain higher quality legal education, enhanced capacity of the legal profession, more effective enforcement of rights by independent judiciary, and stronger upholding of the rule of law in the country. At the same time, Mr. Lor also called for a shift away the historic reliance on international technical assistance to greater involvement and leadership from national experts and institutions. 

Discussed extensively during the meeting was Sok Xing & Hwang’s ongoing provisioning of legislation drafting assistance to government institutions under the Public Policy and Development Impact practice – the SXH’s public policy practice that focuses on supporting the improvement of rule of law and public sector governance in Cambodia and which operates along side and in complement with the firm’s private commercial practice areas. Mr. Sok Lor noted, although Cambodia developed a functioning body of law over the past decades, more work remains to be done to introduce new legislation and regulations to stay on par with, if not ahead of, the real and constantly-evolving needs of Cambodia—whether from the perspectives of business, investment, society, or otherwise.

Mr. Sok Lor further noted that, the development and enhancement of Cambodia’s modern legal and regulatory infrastructures has been receiving support and technical assistance from the international community since the 1990s, which was essential in the early phase of the country’s development. However, moving forward, national institutions and national experts should drive and should be given the necessary space to address Cambodia’s own legislative and regulatory challenges and aspirations. A conscious shift from heavy reliance on international technical assistance to a stronger, more extensive involvement of national capacity will ensure priorities and efforts to advance rule of law development in Cambodia are sustainable. Given the increase in national capacity, Now is the appropriate time for Cambodia to execute that shift.

In light of Cambodia’s needs for stronger rule of law development and Stanford Law School’s extensive support programs on legal education, legislation drafting, and other rule of law support programs in post-conflict countries around the world, both sides discussed and expressed commitments on collaboration on legal projects relating to rule of law improvement in Cambodia when opportunities arise.