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First forum on role of think-tanks, NGOs, media held in Cambodian capital

PHNOM PENH, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- The first Phnom Penh forum on the role of think-tanks, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and media was held here in the capital of Cambodia on Wednesday, aimed at promoting sustainable policy dialogue among governments, think-tanks, research institutions and NGOs.

Founded by the International Relations Institute of Cambodia (IRIC) of the Royal Academy of Cambodia (RAC), the forum has attracted the participation of 27 representatives of governments, think tanks, NGOs, and media organizations from Australia, Cambodia, China, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam.

IRIC Director-General Kin Phea said the one-day forum was also designed to improve the management of think tanks and NGOs through a consensus-building process for "addressing challenges together" and to strengthen the networks of think tanks and NGOs through diverse programs and activities.

Phea said the forum sought to identify the indispensable roles of think tanks, NGOs and media in addressing pressing issues and challenges, and examine their positioning for influencing policy development and implementation.

According to Phea, the forum concluded with the signing of the "Phnom Penh Integrity Initiative for Think Tanks and NGOs" by 15 think tanks, NGOs and media organizations.

He said the initiative will put forth guiding principles for think tanks and NGOs in maintaining integrity, independence, transparency, multi-stakeholder engagement, professionalism, neutrality and impartiality, as well as promoting sustainable, effective and innovative policy dialogues.

RAC President Sok Touch said the forum was convened at the right time as Cambodia is the rotating chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for 2022 under the theme of "addressing challenges together."

He said ASEAN need to strengthen its centrality, relevance and solidarity to tackle key challenges to the region and the world at large.

"Cambodia must remain vigilant and creative, work together with all the member states in a collaborative way ... to confront the serious and daunting challenges ahead, and vigorously address pressing issues of regional development and global challenges," Touch said.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.