Breath of Clarity

Early-Modern Humanitarian Intervention Theory Depicts United Nations Presence in Cambodia


The essay evaluates the United Nations (UN) intervention efficacy in Cambodia. The analysis combines traditional theory with insight derived from other missions to understand post-war reconstruction in Cambodia. It shows how UNTAC (United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia) was unproductive by designating resources to increase voter turnout amidst persistently violent government factions. Self-determination in a previously oppressed population is not possible if the factions still dominate via military force. The more outside authority attempts to override the factions, the greater consequence locals will face. Militaristic parties will exercise more force to build autonomy. The argument dismisses moral obligation, as human nature study reveals self-interest is the ultimate action propeller. However, implementing humanitarian aid is advantageous to UNTAC member countries because recognizing the recipient’s genocide struggle strengthens friendly social relations. Therefore, UNTAC’s disregard for local knowledge is highlighted as a key limitation to doing more good than harm. In summation, without a framework which attempts to devise a governing body independent from existing corrupt factions, UNTAC cannot sustainably support. Equipping Cambodia with non-military aid is a useful tactic for improving UNTAC’s bond with the recipients and setting up a self-sufficient population capable of successful revolution.



The Cambodian genocide (1975-1979) significantly impacts current conditions. It manifested while the weak post-colonial administration further degraded the country’s machinery. The Khmer Rouge, a group of communist rebels, exploited the internal tensions with violent action. Two million people, over one-half the population, were killed under the Khmer Rouge rule. The coup invaded the capital and forced people into the country-side. The genocide victims were intellectuals, artists, and monks. The targeted population demographic resulted in difficult economic recovery. Supplementally, the government implemented labor cuts and inefficiently allocated resources to those who were left alive. The period crucially marked the breakdown of national infrastructure and popular trust in the state. The Khmer Rouge were overthrown by a Vietnamese military intervention in late 1978. The new Vietnam-backed communist regime, the State of Cambodia (SOC), restored basic order. The Soviets supported the Vietnamese. However, the Western Powers felt a need to conduct counter intervention following the cruel Cold War rationale. The radical communist Khmer Rouge began receiving major support from the Western powers, whose major interest was to counteract Soviet expansion. Before the UN arrived, the SOC controlled 90 percent of the country with a military force of 40,000 regulars and 100,000 militia.1 Civil war persisted until Vietnam declared its troops departure and peace agreements formed circa 1989.


In 1990, the Security Council (United States, Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom) drafted the Paris Peace Accord.1 The Accord requested the United Nations designate a government body called the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) to organize, facilitate, and supervise the first free and fair national democratic elections. The United Nations was assigned to oversee the Supreme National Council (SNC), which was constructed from the four corrupt existing Cambodia political parties.1 The SNCs’ role was to set up formal democratic institutions including a legislature, and ensure all political parties have an equal opportunity to conduct their campaigns. In 1992, the UN started deploying a peacekeeping force of 22,000 soldiers and civilians to oversee the elections.1 Cantonment and demobilization was scheduled to begin, but the Khmer Rouge refused to yield weapons. Even though the parties signed the agreement, they didn’t disarm, and it brought great difficulty to peacemaking.


For the first time, the UN was assigned to organize and conduct, not merely monitor or observe, a national election.1 Article 6 from the Paris Agreements reveals it was anticipated UNTAC was able to “ensure a neutral political environment conducive to free and fair elections” by exercising direct control over “existing administrative structures”.1 Marrack Goulding, chief of the UN’s peacekeeping department, theoretically developed three peacekeeping operation foundations: 1. the mandate or task of the peacekeeping operation must be clear, practicable and accepted by the parties; 2. the parties must pledge themselves to cooperate with the peacekeepers and those pledges must be credible; 3. the Member-States of the United Nations must be ready to provide the human and material resources needed to do the job.1



A peace-building triangle model efficiently evaluates UNTAC strategy. The triangle’s peak, international capacity, takes into account local deficiencies and faction hostility.2 War-torn countries vary in economic and social capacity. Institutions need to be rebuilt, and a school system that can assist sustainable reconciliation needs to be developed. International economic relief and productive jobs are the first signs of peace which can persuade rival factions to truly disarm.2 Mandates must investigate faction characteristics to determine whether the parties will cooperate. Long-term trusteeship is required to overcome defeat from agreed peace provisions, and the international role must be designed to fit each case. UN efforts in Bosnia and Congo revealed extremely poor conditions in the recipient countries can be overwhelming. In Bosnia, the high levels of faction hostility were driven by an ethnic war with high numbers of deaths and displacements.2 While Bosnia received a large share of UN’s peacekeeping resources, the country faced immense local hostility and economic devastation. However, the authors point out that the difference between Bosnia and Congo’s peacemaking mission results was how conservative the UN interpreted the given mandate. In Bosnia, since the conditions didn’t align with a conservative UN mandate interpretation, there were major failures in the peacekeeping management. Whereas, in Congo, even without a peace treaty and despite high levels of hostility and non-existent local capacities, enforcement was initially successful because it was well-supported by international actors.2 However, reliance on outside actors interferes with self-sustainment and was costly to the UN.

The Somali civil war left the state devastated to a degree which required help beyond what the U.S. could afford investing into a UN operation.2 The marginal U.S. commitment set up a low international capacity. The motives were based upon the leader’s interests to satisfy moral obligation, rather than building a strong relationship with the recipient country. President Bush declared intervention due to media pressure and a desire to avoid the former Yugoslavia. The staffing was also inadequate. When U.S. Secretary of Defense recognized the need for hostile Somali faction disarmament, the UN was already withdrawing. The U.S. thus passed on the responsibility to a much less well-trained and smaller UN force.2 Even with effective strategy in place, the UN lacking commitment was a powerful enough limitation to inhibit peacemaking.


UNTAC staffing was clearly deficient. Diplomats, who design the peace treaty, “tend to think in legal (authority, precedent) and not strategic (power, incentives) categories. Treaties thus describe obligations; they tend to be unclear about incentives and capacities”.1 The UN committed major staffing mistakes, as a result. Rafeeuddin Ahmed represented the UN in the lengthy informal and formal negotiations leading to the final Paris Accord. In 1992, institutional knowledge was lost when the Secretary-General replaced Ahmed’s team with Yasushi Akashi.1 The new staff didn’t retain trust developed from engagement with parties, and they could not formulate accurate feasibility assessments. Further, never before had a UN peacekeeping operation assumed so intrusive and authoritative a mandate to implement universal human rights.1 Nonetheless, in the initial planning for UNTAC the Human Rights Component was assigned only ten officers, and very few civil administration staff spoke the local Khmer language. A shortage of Khmer-speaking individuals in CIVADMIN was a clear difficulty in any attempt to control a Khmer bureaucracy. Language deficiency discouraged the factions from wanting to collaborate. From the start, rapport was lacking.

Anthony Pagden’s discussion of imperialist failure to take interest in the Pacific culture is similar to how UNTAC dismissed Cambodia’s local conditions. James Cook identified Polynesia as a “human nature laboratory”. Although French colonizers claimed they valued human rights, and wanted to combine trade with education, it was not genuine. While explorers brought Tahitian locals back to France with them, “Cook had a low opinion of [their] intellect based largely on the failure to be impressed by European cities”.3 It revealed the explorers mission was not to learn about the other, but to spread ideas for the recipient country to imitate. UNTAC committed a similar mistake in Cambodia, as they didn’t recognize the playing field in Cambodia before arrival. They didn’t see how high-level government corruption would inhibit popular vote turnout making a difference. While a bottom-up approach may be beneficial to America’s low political participation, there are other issues in Cambodia which UNTAC needed to prioritized.


It’s important to investigate the UN military staff presence’s role in monitoring competing factions. UNTAC focused its program on building citizen election involvement, rather than taming the forceful factions. The gap between peace agreement finalization (October 23, 1991) and UNTAC’s full deployment was nine months”.1 Late deployment decreases the momentum derived from the psychological weight associated with a parties and popular support moving together toward a single goal.1 Considering the devastated state Cambodia was in at the program’s initial stages, civilians needed a fully deployed military component to contain the SOC and Khmer Rouge’s attempted armed influence. The troop quantity was simply not enough. There were 170 UN officers assigned to control 21 provinces and a total SOC civil service estimated at 200,000 members.1 If the SOC was truly working alongside UNTAC, it wouldn’t be a major issue. However, the actual chain of policy bypassed UNTAC. A SOC Document captured by UNTTAC instructed local officials to store documents separate from UNTAC.1 The staff shortage also inhibited UNTAC from making impact outside of Phnom Penh. Supplementally, “UNTAC’s complete lack of control over the Khmer Rouge- which barred UNTAC staff at gunpoint- undermined the credibility of UNTAC’s claim to impartiality”.1 Even if the UNTAC devoted all effort to controlling the SOC, its negligible attitudes towards other factions made the prioritization appear biased. In 1992, just before the elections, the Khmer Rouge failed to canton because they claimed the UNTAC insufficiently controlled the SOC.1 In actuality, the UNTAC was not adequately resourced to tame both the SOC and Khmer Rouge. The difference between Cambodian and El Salvadoran faction cooperation was striking. While not all aspects of the peace accords have been fully implemented and weak institutions remain, “the UN was instrumental in bringing an end to the longest civil war in twentieth century Latin America”.2 The most important factor in El Salvador’s success was that the Salvadoran parties were prepared to make peace. The armed conflict was brought to an end, with full demobilizing and disarmament. Government forces were dramatically reduced, and therefore could be restructured. In Cambodia, the conflict generated assurance problems forced UNTAC to concentrate on monitoring information. It resulted in the parties getting defensive, rather than seeing UNTAC as a teammate. Military intervention is only successful if the parties agree to jump on board with the reconciliation. In discordance with the peace treaty, Cambodian political parties continued to compete for power. Specifically, the Khmer Rouge signed the peace agreement, but refused to disarm. The USSC and China made it clear financial and military support would discontinue if they resisted treaty terms.1 The international support mechanism offered a non-risk approach to alleviate the civil war via negotiation as, “it often turns out that one particular state can associate with one faction just as the other associates with a second. China backstopped the Khmer Rouge and the USSR did the SOC”.1 The success points to the fact hybridization, rather than transformation, is a useful intervener mentality. Hybridization is used to describe a situation where new discourses and social structures evolve from the blending of original ones. Patron–client relations are not in themselves evil, but they acquire negative value compared to the western liberal democracy norm.4 Therefore, although the problems of autocracy shouldn’t be belittled, it is nevertheless important to remember that the emerging hybrid system is valued differently according to expectations certain observers had from the outset. It’s noteworthy that it was personal relationships which motivated the factions to lessen their forceful presence. However, while the resourcing strategy helped decrease Khmer Rouge troops, it didn’t completely abolish their aggressive actions. Despite efforts to separate forceful measures from the electoral contests, “SOC’s popularity seemed to increase in direct ratio to the escalation in violence” because it had the only military force capable of containing the Khmer Rouge.1 In 1994, the Khmer Rouge still controlled about 10 percent of the territory and continued an armed insurgency against the royal government.1 The Khmer Rouge couldn’t be totally controlled.


The unclear power dynamic between the SOC and UNTAC was difficult to navigate without a formal judicial body. The UNTAC Control Team discovered there was, for example, “widespread and persistent use of SOC state apparatus to conduct political campaign activities in which state employees- police, armed forces, and civil servants- are mobilized for specific party electioneering”.1 However, UNTAC investigations, which accused SOC security forces of imprisonment without trial, was illegitimate without appellate courts. There was a severe shortage of lawyers, and the system’s poorly trained judges were subject to pressure from the SOC’s political ideology. UNTAC responded by naming its own prosecutor, Australian barrister Mark Plunkett.1 However, other logistics weren’t set up. UNTAC lacked a jail, and, by its own interpretation, had no authority to exercise force for this purpose. Ironically, UNTAC’s first two prisoners ever were held without habeas corpus and without trial.1 UNTAC panicked and was dealing with it by taking unjust measures. Unjust motions by the UN also limited its impact in El Salvador. In El Salvador, the UN didn’t cooperate with force restrictions. Relative to other cases, the model produced available peace building space. Using the triangle model, the “predicted probability of peace building success (.69) was more than double the average for all other cases”.2 Originally, the UN based their strategy on the factions’ lacking compliance. The UN was designed to facilitate agreement with a maximum troop strength consistently under 1,000.2 However, while cooperative factions should have led to no military force required, the UN still had to debate whether to exercise force because they didn’t complete judiciary and police reform. The on-going increase in drug trafficking, crime, and illegally armed vigilante groups prompted the government to use the military to patrol rural areas.2 The UN exercised force “in contravention and of the constitutional procedures established under the peace accords”.2 So, the UN’s actions didn’t reflect it’s intentions, which caused factions to view the peacemaking body as ill-intentioned.


UNTAC was problematically assigned a task to protect human rights and secure law and order without a judicial system. Given the cultural barriers, using police reform to restore state legitimacy without a judicial system or police retraining program is illogical. James Madison explains how power given to a large authoritative body inhibits corruption. Madison states, “in a society, under the forms of which the stronger faction can readily unite and oppress the weaker, anarchy may as truly be said to reign, as in a state of nature where the weaker individual is not secured against the violence of the stronger”. Faction collaboration without a higher power is limited by differences in partisanship and class interests. Additionally, some functions performed by UNTAC staff could have been assigned to the private management sector when the security situation permitted. If UNTAC was sincere about its reverence for state self-determination, it would ensure to create sustainable institutions capable of impartial justice and human rights. The SOC was able to maintain a firm grip on a main power decentralization vehicle- the commune councils set up in 1995. The commune councils demonstrated success in promoting small scale local infrastructure projects. However, the Cambodia’s People’s Party, supported by the SOC, extended its power consolidation at the grassroots in the communes. By holding resources and relying on a public desire for stability, it aimed to capture more official positions in electoral competition. UNTAC needed to create affordable strategy to mobilize local resources for collective purposes”.1 The reality is one of continued central control, and the commune councils don’t hold much power in the entire unit. The Supreme National Council was very exclusive, considering its aim to create a pluralist democracy without military invasion. While there were not many other parties to select from, it was possible to create a chamber for civil society. Representatives outside the state, such as nongovernmental organizations and Buddhist religious leaders, were a great resource available to perform executive and legislative functions.1 While they cannot compose the entire governing body, at a minimum they must be recognized as consultive channels. The UN lacked cultural knowledge going into the mission, which inhibited them from building community trust and gathering any insight about local networks. In order to establish a voice, the public must contribute to law formation. Observations from Papua New Guinea reveal participatory constitution-making is the essential operating system which regulates state power. Participatory constitution-making build unity because it defines the political bond between the government and people. It is conducive to constructing a strong state because it encourages reconciliation by embedding state institutions into society. UNTAC’s decision to limit the SNC to existing factions was detrimental because public participation in constitution-making enhances legitimacy. Public participation must reach the decision-making body, and “self-determination must have indigenous roots if it is to be true”.1


The UN succeeded in developing a thorough campaign directed at educating the general public. UNTAC’s Electoral Component registered Cambodia’s voters, “established 1,400 polling sites, recruited and trained a 48,000-person Cambodian electoral staff of poll workers, and conducted the poll. There were 4.76 million voters, around 90 percent of the estimated potential voter population”.1 It’s essential to note the process was assisted by laminated photo identity cards which Cambodians were attracted to because the people appreciated the citizenship symbol the cards conveyed. However, “the failed plastic seals on the ballot boxes that broke in transit on Cambodia’s bumpy roads, gave rise to SOC charges of UNTAC tampering”.1 It shows a state cannot be legitimate if development is only at the grassroots level.

A fundamental problem was UNTAC’s inability to recognize government faction corruption persists even with a strong voter turnout. Although Cambodian elections have been held regularly and were judged “credible” by international and local observers, there remains a significant degree of unease.4 There were reports of duplicate voter names, vote buying, and large groups of voters casting ballots in communes where they were not registered. The National Election Committee (NEC) identified more than 250,000 duplicate names and 290,000 missing names from voter rolls.5 Still, intolerance of political dissent and top-down policy-making are continued problems which marginalize the poor and fail to alleviate poverty. The UN Secretary-General specifically identified the election as a focal point.1 However, UNTAC only focused on establishing the elections, rather staying after as well. The party violence was so overwhelming that it would have required extensive military intervention, which was not in the intervener’s self-interest. Furthermore, UNTAC’s intervention was based on its own interest and fear. Aristotle explained fear is caused “by whatever we feel has great power of destroying us, or harming us”. Fear is often provoked by another actor’s power abuse, and it is usually satisfied through the direct acquisition of military power.8 Based on his historically renowned texts, Niccolo Machiavelli would highlight UNTAC’s decision to depart early was conducted out of fear. Machiavelli asserts it reveals intervention cannot contain a moral basis. If the intervention was conducted due to a moral inclination, and it was truly an obligation, UNTAC would take any means necessary to combat the faction violence. UNTAC’s inability to acknowledge true motivation, misinformed its methods. Since UNTAC decided not to intervene with full force, it should have aimed to strengthen the public’s independence from the start. Successful intervention would require empowering the public to be revolutionaries, not just voters.


UNTAC shifted the Military Component’s role once they realized they couldn’t contain Khmer Rouge forces. UNTAC moved away from “a zonal deployment designed to accommodate faction cantonment” to “a provincial deployment designed to support election organization”.1 However, the Khmer Rouge and SOC didn’t cooperate with media guidelines UNTAC attempted to implement. The SOC went so far as to protect the Khmer Rouge’s editorial control. In early 1993, “opposition political offices were attacked, ransacked and burned, and party members were beaten, kidnapped, and killed”.1 Journalists who spoke out about issues “such as land rights, illegal logging or the controversial border treaty with Vietnam were arrested, attacked, threatened, imprisoned or prosecuted”.5 The faction military dominance interfered with human rights developments. Land and property rights were regularly abused for the sake of private development projects. The state “seized 12 percent or more of Cambodia’s land in concessions to private developers. Thousands were forcibly removed from their homes, with little or no compensation or relocation assistance, to make room for mine operations, commercial plantations, factories, and office and residential developments”.5 The violence escalated as the corruption was challenged. In January 2015, police shot and killed at least four protesters in Phnom Penh during demonstrations for higher wages and better working conditions.5 Criticism of the prime minister and his family is still often punished. Teachers and students practice self-censorship regarding discussions about Cambodian politics and history.5 The censorship interferes with self-determination efforts because the public cannot use historical truth to inform identity formation. The events were crucial because it influenced UNTAC’s decision to withdraw. UNTAC underwent a crisis concerning its safety. Days before the election, the Secretary-General lowered UNTAC’s minimum standards for free and fair elections to merely ensure a secret ballot. The town of Stoung, in the central province of Kompong Thom, was shelled by Khmer Rouge artillery throughout the night before balloting began.1 Atsuhito Nakata, a Japanese electoral UN volunteer, and his Cambodian interpreter were killed in Kompong Thom.1 If “one more electoral worker was killed” then “UN Volunteers, the principal electoral organizers in the field, would be withdrawn before the election”.1 Security concerns closed 300 polling sites in the troubled spots of Siem Reap and Kompong Thom. UN headquarters in New York ordered agency officials out of the country.1 The event series revealed UNTAC troops prioritized their own safety above all else. A restrictive foreign policy recognizes a country must base actions on its own self-interest to create “an invariable rule to go by”. Otherwise, intervening due to moral obligation would do more harm than good. Bolingbroke explains, “a state, who neglects to do this must fight to negotiate, and negotiate to fight again, as long as it is a state; because, as long as it is a state, there will be disputes among its neighbors”.10 They should then act only when it is clear that they will save more lives than the intervention itself will end up costing.


Once elections were held, third parties such as the UNTAC gradually left Cambodia. In 1994, subsequent to negotiation failure with the Khmer Rouge, the Royal Cambodian Army took a weak offensive stance, revealing their unassisted arms were insufficient.1 While the United Nations was able to establish electoral structure, the corruption in upper level government persisted. There has not been a recurrence of civil war in Cambodia; however, there have been other political problems and concerns about government corruption.1 Cambodia exemplifies new democracies are not full-functioning, nor are they in a transitory phase, rather they fall into a status between strong democracy and outright dictatorship. Examining United Nations peacemaking projects in various countries, combined with traditional international relations theory, informs interventionists about how to construct strategic frameworks adherent to region-specific conditions.



In Cambodia’s case, the only way to abolish existing factions without outside military force and get the public involved in decision-making is revolution. As a revolutionary leader in ancient Italy, Giuseppe Mazzini was interested in understanding the means by which Europe’s oppressed peoples could achieve the urgent goal of national self-determination. Mazzini was “convinced that democracy had to grow internally, from a genuine domestic political struggle, and believed that self-government achieved with help of foreign armies would not be genuine and could not be lasting”. Mazzini emphasized popular education and civil participation as means to citizenship. He suggested Italian patriots should organize for partisan guerrilla warfare by establishing a centralized revolutionary organization and military operations. His objective was to raise the entire nation to protest. Over the last century, national resistance movements across the globe (from the Jewish Irgun in British-ruled Palestine, to the FLN in Algeria, the Kosovo Liberation Army) have used similar tactics to generate mass-popular revolt and attract international support for their cause.13 Notwithstanding Mazzini’s revolutionary zeal, he never called on powerful liberal states to intervene militarily abroad in support of democracy and national liberation. Mazzini declared, “each people ought to be left free to find their own path to collective self-governance, proceeding at their own pace and relying on their own cultural background and historical experiences”.13 In Cambodia’s case, individuals must unite under devastation about the genocide. The need to create the organizations Mazzini discussed is urgent because the current generation are those who experienced the genocide first hand, and therefore hold the zeal most capable of achieving liberation. If liberal government were to be introduced into a foreign society, the locals placed in power would immediately struggle. Not having been able to win political power on their own, they will continue to struggle with new non-liberal undemocratic domestic enemies.13 They then would do one of three things: (1) begin to rule as did previous governments, that is, by repressing their opposition and acting to “speedily put an end to all popular institutions” Or (2) simply collapse in an ensuing civil war because the imposed government lacked the popular support to achieve and hold power on its own Or (3) the interveners would have continually to send in foreign support”.13 It essentially highlights how a public population can appear self-determined while they are actually not. Alexander Hamilton advances the argument by showing standing armies build dependency, rather than strength in the public population. Military intervention produces reliance because “the continual necessity for his services enhances the importance of the soldier, and proportionably degrades the condition of the citizen”. Military intervention interferes with self-determination because “the military state becomes elevated above the civil and by degrees, the people are brought to consider the soldiery not only as their protectors, but as their superiors”.14 While it may not be intentional to establish superiority over the recipients, it can happen due to dependency which arises from a relationship which is not reciprocal.


There’s a middle ground between no presence at all and military intervention which would optimally benefit UNTAC. It allows a body which is limited in force power to still exist in a space “where frugality and generosity reside together. To abandon those, whom it is our interest to support, is an excess of folly […] there are lines within which our common interests meet, and may proceed together”.10 It’s important the intervening body recognizes how interests coincide. Historically, military intervention enabled the Cambodian genocide as international actors armed the Khmer Rouge. Although Cambodia wouldn’t be a threat to war, UNTAC’s inadequate support during and after the genocide inhibits them from having a strong relationship with the country. It’s crucial to offer humanitarian aid to countries who don’t necessarily threaten a UNTAC country’s security. The supportive actions show other dangerous nations that UNTAC countries embrace cultural difference. UNTAC’s response must be to develop cultural understanding, so they radiate a compassionate identity to the rest of the world. Unarmed humanitarian aid aimed to heal relations between the interveners and recipient also empowers the public to be revolutionaries. So, the benefit is mutual. UNTAC can do so by equipping local Cambodians with self-determination resources, beyond merely election organization. The ability to see a military intervention thru is limited, but humanitarian aid is crucial to develop tie strength following a devastating Khmer Rouge attack which was inappropriately monitored. Mazzini called for a limited military intervention, coupled with a longer-term external presence to establish conditions under which self-determination is possible. UNTAC conducted the former, but failed at the latter. Mazzini’s opposition to externally imposed regime change in the European context suggests that he envisioned humanitarian military intervention as a limited, “surgical” form of interference to stop large-scale violence against civilians abroad.13 But, following intervention in deeply divided war-torn societies (such as Kosovo or East Timor), a longer-term external presence may be necessary to maintain political stability.13 If post-conflict state reconstruction is in the intervening state’s interest, it is optimal to remain in country and offer humanitarian aid.

The Salvador peace process wasn’t able to achieve its fundamental aim to impact economic and social grievances via only institutional reform. Even though there were political and institutional reforms, “disadvantaged groups didn’t gain a voice in decisions that affected their lives […] only 36 percent of the potential recipients eligible for land under the peace accords had received their registration and fully completed the land transfer process, though 87 percent of the land had been transferred”.2 Institutional reform lacking absolute power supports the need for non-military individual-based humanitarian intervention programs. The UN needs to reach household bodies to create strong sympathy in the international community.13 Specifically, national regimes of oppression are difficult for foreigners to “unpack” to due history’s relevance in present affairs. Simply listening to the stories on an individual basis can greatly improve relations. Listening to the devastating effects locals experienced, due to international inattentiveness at the catastrophe’s prime, enhances respect. David Hume and Adam Smith distinguished between “particular and general forms of sympathy,” to emphasize why non-militaristic aid is helpful.13 The first is a specific feeling towards particular persons, and the second the more general feeling of a shared humanity. Hume and Smith asserted that only close personal bonds result in particular sympathy.13 Sympathy explains why the humanitarian aid interveners show up. It drives the strength of a bond between nations. The ties between smaller social units are stronger and also the most important to the individual. Therefore, we can repair a relationship between the recipient country’s public population and the intervening country by offering non-militaristic humanitarian aid at the individual level.


The UNTAC successful governance reform at the grassroots level couldn’t be extended to impact Cambodia’s corrupt factions. Voter power was reliant on a nonexistent, institutional mechanism to translate democratic authority into bureaucratic practice. It is difficult for a vulnerable outside body to limit corruption seeping into traditional democratic institutions, such as elections, without using military force. So, it’s crucial for the intervening body to the situation with a clear viewpoint about whether or not it’s possible to both exert force and keep itself safe. Failure to do so results in a harmful premature departure after intervening. If we consider a humanitarian intervention’s true purpose is to strengthen friendly ties, then it’s crucial to recognize cultural understanding is indispensable. It enables the interveners to have sympathetic conversations with the recipients to improve ties by understanding how historical circumstances impact current conditions. It is, therefore, essential to consider how the local culture influences the way in which some aspects of democratization are adopted while others are not. Moving forward, interveners can investigate what aspects of the Cambodian Commune Council forum were successful independent from factional interference. This way, they can explore how it can be extended to strengthen institutional gateways into self-determination.