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UNESCO Celebrates 30 Years of Field Office Presence in Cambodia – A Journey of Partnerships

On the occasion of UNESCO’s 75th Anniversary and 30 Years of Field Office Presence in Cambodia, a Partnership Reception was organized at UNESCO Phnom Penh Office on 21st December 2021. Over 100 guests, including Ministers, Member of Parliament, and senior government officials from the Royal Government of Cambodia, Ambassadors, development partners, civil society, and media professionals, attended the Reception.

During his welcome remarks, UNESCO Representative to Cambodia, Mr. Sardar Umar Alam, highlighted the significant achievements realized in the areas of Culture, Education, Natural Sciences, and Communication & Information, through the invaluable partnership between UNESCO, the Royal Government of Cambodia, development partners and civil society, in promoting peace and sustainable development and uplifting the rights and livelihoods of the people of Cambodia.

H.E. Dr. Phoeurng Sackona, Minister of Culture and Fine Arts, Chair of Cambodian National Commission for UNESCO addressed the Reception and commended the excellent collaboration between UNESCO and the Royal Government of Cambodia in the sustainable development of Cambodia. In particular, she appreciated UNESCO’s technical support in promoting conservation and preservation of World Heritage sites and intangible cultural heritage, and fostering cultural and creative industries in Cambodia.

H.E. Dr. Hang Chuon Naron, Minister of Education, Youth and Sport, Vice-Chair of Cambodian National Commission for UNESCO, congratulated UNESCO for its 30 Years of Field Office Presence in Cambodia, and commended its on-going collaboration with UNESCO to strengthen the education ecosystem in Cambodia, including teachers’ development, digital education and skills development, the non-formal education sector, and Education for Sustainable Development.

On UNESCO’s 75th Anniversary and UNESCO’s 41st General Conference, at the invitation of Ms. Audrey Azoulay, Director-General UNESCO, His Majesty Samdech Preah Bâromneath NORODOM Sihamoni, King of Cambodia, addressed a special ceremony on 12th November 2021 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, along with over 25 heads of state and government and delegations.

In his royal speech, His Majesty King Sihamoni congratulated UNESCO for its 75th Anniversary since founding, for its contribution to peace, cultural diversity, solidarity and humanity. His Majesty stated that the Cambodian People, Samdech Techo Prime Minister Hun Sen, and the Royal Government of Cambodia are with him while expressing his deepest gratitude to representatives of all nations who have signed the Paris Peace Agreements in 1991, under the co-Presidency of France and Indonesia, to bring peace and progress to Cambodia. For more information about the Cambodian high-level delegation to attend UNESCO’s 41st General Conference, please read more.

Renovation of UNESCO Building

The Reception also presented a unique opportunity to inaugurate the UNESCO Office building as a newly renovated heritage building, which was built between 1910 and 1920. UNESCO first opened its office in Cambodia in this unique building in 1991.

In 2021, UNESCO renovated this building, including preservation of the historic tiles and roof structure, painting, restoration of windows, doors, and wooden staircase, and upgrading of the electrical system, among others.

The basement was developed into a safe storeroom for documents and archives. The conservation work preserves and calls attention to this heritage building's unique outstanding value, authenticity and integrity.

Given its prime location and historical significance, the renovation work has been done by local experts and artisans using local materials, in line with environmental sustainability principles. The heritage building has been preserved and restored, and the decades-old furniture has been refurbished by local carpenters, bringing to light its distinctive heritage and style.

In line with the theme of Khmer Traditional Garden, the office garden has been curated with various plant species, and features many notable native plants, such as Romdoul, the National Flower of Cambodia.

UNESCO is working closely with the Royal Government of Cambodia to support the conservation of urban heritage, and highly acknowledged the recent Circular on preventing the demolition and destruction of heritage buildings in Cambodia, issued by Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia on 12 October 2021, to promote heritage conservation and sustainable development, given the risk of losses and damage on urban heritage buildings in Cambodia. As one of the few remaining urban heritage buildings in Phnom Penh, the building epitomizes UNESCO's long-standing commitment to foster peace, sustainable development, and inter-cultural dialogue in Cambodia.

Season’s greetings and best wishes to all of UNESCO’s partners for a Happy New Year 2022!