Sophorn Poch, Director of the Independent Mediation Organization (IMG), gives us some insights into his involvement with the Second Regional Land Forum as well as his hopes in terms of the Forum's outcomes.
Can you tell us about why you have decided to become involved in this conference? Furthermore, can you tell us a bit more about the specifics of your involvement?
Our organization, IMG, decide to become involved in the conference because we are currently pilot testing a new approach for conflict transformation. We are looking at the viability of “Independent mediation” as an alternative approach to conflict resolution in Cambodia. This new initiative is expected to fill in the shortcomings of existing conflict resolution mechanisms and effectively solve land conflicts peacefully in Cambodia. As of now, documentation of lessons learned from this approach will be done and exchanged with relevant projects in Cambodia and the Mekong region to contribute in improving similar work in other countries as well as ongoing improvement of our initiative. It’s also our commitment with MRLG to share these experiences and lessons learnt. On that note, IMG will be conducting a masterclass session on “land conflict transformation” at the Forum and will be joining a panel discussion on “land conflict mediation in Busra’s case in Cambodia”.
Can you tell us about your involvement in the First Regional Land Forum?
During the First Regional Land Forum, I gave a presentation on the experience of communal land titling in Cambodia. The presentation was based on my experience working with GIZ Land Rights Program in Cambodia, there was one activity which supported communal land titling for Indigenous Peoples’ Communities (IPCs).
Can you tell us about some of your work and collaboration with MRLG?
Our organization receives funding from MRLG on two projects through Quick Disbursement Fund (QDF) on preliminary mapping for Busra communities and Innovative Fund on the CLAIM project.
What are your hopes in terms of outcomes for the conference?
We hope to gain as well as provide new understanding, experiences, and lessons learnt, through the exchange and sharing of experiences between participants from different countries. This is vital because, on the one hand, we can use this opportunity to improve and develop our innovations further and on the other hand, countries in the region could use and adopt our lessons learnt and experiences to the land issues which they themselves are facing.
Do you foresee that conferences such as these can have positive effects for the work which you are carrying out? If so, how?
These conferences are very useful and absolutely have positive effects on our work. In 2014 for example, when I was working with the GIZ, I attended the World Bank Annual Conference on Land and Poverty. I joined a presentation on “Land conflict resolution through mediation process” with professional and independent mediators and it truly inspired me. After some thinking on how this could work in Cambodia, I began speaking to supervisors, friends and colleagues working in the sector. We were later able to form a team that attended trainings in Australia that later accredited us as professional mediators. Since then, we have worked to introduce peaceful conflict resolution and mediation, to land conflicts in Cambodia and took Busra’s Case as a pilot.