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Conflict sensitivity and activism: insights from Cambodia's resource conflicts

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This paper examines debates relating to international aid, civil society, and natural resource conflicts, through a case study of conflict sensitivity programming in Cambodia. The paper highlights the value of confrontational activism, yet the practice of conflict sensitivity can dissuade such activism. Embedded in the country’s history and politics, the paper analyses the conflict sensitivity work of an international non-government organisation, revealing significant community-level success, including women’s empowerment, but limitations in addressing systemic drivers of conflict. The case study also reveals how the application of conflict sensitivity contributed towards conflict and risk avoidance. In a global context of prevalent natural resource conflicts and related violence, this paper calls for critical reflection on the practice of conflict sensitivity, which continues to gain popularity globally. For development institutions and practitioners, conflict sensitivity has extensive value, but it must be implemented in ways that do not inadvertently dissuade more emancipatory civil society activism.



4404 Development Studies, 44 Human Society, 8.3 Policy, ethics, and research governance, Generic health relevance, 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

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Development in Practice

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Informa UK Limited