at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Justice in Cambodia: Lessons from the Cambodian Tragedy for Today


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Friday, April 17, 12:00 p.m., Moore Hall 319 (Tokioka Room)
Presented by Dr. Benny Widyono, Professor of Economics at the University of Connecticut

In February 2009, the long awaited trial of remaining Khmer Rouge leaders began in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. In this talk, Professor Benny Widyono will analyze why these trials against the Khmer Rouge, who killed 1.7 million Cambodians during their reign of terror between 1975 and 1979, were delayed for thirty years. The answer to this question, Widyono will argue, can be found within the international political dynamics of the cold war, Hence, instead of putting the Khmer Rouge on trial after they were driven from power by the Vietnamese army in January 1979, the United Nations, instigated by the United States and China, continued to recognize the genocidal Khmer Rouge as the legitimate government of Cambodia for another eleven years. In his analysis, Prof. Widyono will draw heavily from his recently published book, Dancing in Shadows: Sihanouk, the Khmer Rouge and the United Nations in Cambodia, his personal chronicle of five years in Cambodia during the peace process (1992-97).

He will end on a cautiously optimistic note that the trials, though late, herald a long awaited process of healing and national reconciliation.


Dr. Benny Widyono, an Indonesian, served as a United Nations civil servant in Bangkok, Santiago, New York and Cambodia between 1963 and 1997. In 1992-93 he served as UNTAC’s Provincial Director of Siem Reap; subsequently in 1994-97 he served as the UN Secretary-General’s Political Representative to the Royal Government of Cambodia. His recently published book, Dancing in Shadows: Sihanouk, the Khmer Rouge and the United Nations, was written while he was a visiting scholar at Cornell University. Dr Widyono holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Texas and is currently a professor of Economics at the University of Connecticut at Stamford, CT.

Copies of the book will be available for sale.