Document Type

Honors Project


This piece of scholarship is not an individual achievement in itself but one whose fruition came about with the support, advising, and dedication of many individuals. First, I would like to express my gratitude to my mentor and thesis advisor, Professor Ahmed Samatar, for his willingness to take me under his wing and shape me into the young scholar that I have become. Without his critical questions, ongoing encouragement, and “tough love,” this project would not have had the same intellectual depth and careful analysis that it holds today. Importantly also, I am thankful to Professor Samatar for encouraging me to put aside my personal views of the Khmer Rouge and the genocide, in the end enabling me to connect with a part of my history and roots that I had not known before. I would also like to acknowledge Professors Andrew Latham and Nadya Nedelsky for their help and comments as I began to undertake this honors project. Professors Yue-Him Tam and Richard Kagan also provided meaningful advice on this thesis at my honors defense. I am grateful as well to my high school mentor, Professor Katherine Fennelly, for initially igniting my intellectual interest in Cambodia, the genocide, and justice. I am thankful to Dr. David Crocker and Dr. Craig Etcheson for their insights on transitional justice and for having shared their scholarly work on this subject. Special appreciation also goes to my wonderful family and friends who have shown outstanding dedication and support as I worked on this project. To my mom and dad, I thank them both for their love, sacrifices, and ongoing support in my educational pursuits. To my sisters and brother, I thank them for their love, dedication, and for putting up with me in times of stress. To Karla Benson, Joi Lewis, Sedric McClure, and Afifa Benwahoud, I am grateful for their support these past four years and for helping me to achieve my full potential while at Macalester. Without them, my experience at Macalester would not have been half of what it has become. Finally, this project is a dedication to the millions of Cambodians who suffered under the Khmer Rouge and who continue to struggle today as they seek to move forward. I hope this project will provide insights into many of the questions that these individuals continue to live with, and at the very least, enable them to take steps to redirect the course of transitional justice in Cambodia.


Through a normative and explanatory approach, this thesis explores the historical and political factors that could influence the pursuit of transitional justice in Cambodia. The study suggests that a victim-centered model will meet the goals of reconciliation, truth, and healing advocated by the Cambodian Government and the international community. Recognizing the necessities and positive potentialities inherent in a combined prosecutorial and restorative approach of transitional justice, this research calls upon historical and comparative lessons to bring forth public policy recommendations for the Hun Sen Government and the United Nations. The study concludes with avenues for additional research on Cambodia, transitional justice, and the building of a democratic order.



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