Today marks the 30th anniversary of the 1991 Paris Agreements, which brought peace to Cambodia after decades of catastrophic civil war, invasion and genocide.
Australia can remain proud of the role we played in the Agreements, in particular, the leadership of the former Labor Foreign Minister Gareth Evans.
In 1975, as the war was ending in Vietnam, the Khmer Rouge took control in Cambodia, embarking upon a horrific campaign of executions, displacement and forced labour in which nearly 2 million people were murdered or died of disease and starvation.
The invasion of Vietnamese forces in 1979 drove Pol Pot’s regime from power, but began a new decade of destructive civil war.
With ASEAN, China, Russia and the US all supporting different sides, it was Mr Evans who identified a way forward through the intractable conflict, built around giving the United Nations an unprecedented role in governing the country during its transition.
The plan that he and his department drafted culminated in the Paris Peace Agreements, signed by 19 countries on this day in 1991.
The Agreements are among the greatest achievements of Australian foreign policy and serve as a reminder of the positive impact that energetic and focused diplomacy can have.
The ambition of these Agreements was not limited to peace, but also democracy, inclusion, and respect for human rights for all Cambodians. Labor recognises the advocacy and contribution of the Cambodian diaspora communities across Australia, in these pursuits.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.