Vansey Sao | Development and Peace

Vansey Sao

Vansey Sao

“I have witnessed how effective open dialogue can truly be. It provides Indigenous peoples with the voice they need to express their concerns and to defend their rights when corporations occupy their land. It provides a platform for negotiation and most importantly it allows for cooperation and discussion of the issues in a peaceful manner.”


“Peace does not occur immediately. It is built upon and improved. It requires hard work, patience and determination. I have seen how Indigenous communities and peoples continue to not only survive, but to create a better life for themselves through willpower, hard work and dedication. They are becoming more aware of how to assert their rights through peaceful means. They are determined to better their societies through development that respects their culture, environment and their communities as a whole. This has shown me that change is possible, that peace is possible. The more educated we become as people, the more communications and negotiations skills we gain. With these skills we can solve problems peacefully. We learn to approach issues with respect and to continue to search for justice peacefully.”


Vansey was born in Cambodia, where he spent a part of his childhood. Following the start of the civil war in 1973, he fled Cambodia only to return in 1992. He worked with the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), and then with several civil society and international organizations that foster a deeper understanding of democracy and human rights. In 2006, he co-founded ICSO, and is now executive director. Vansey will be on of our solidarity visitors during Lent. He will be in British Columbia and Alberta from March 9 to 19.

Indigenous Community Support Organization’s work - ICSO

ICSO works with the country’s minority Indigenous communities. Through ICSO’s land title program for communal land, which is supported by Development and Peace, Indigenous communities learn how to have their rights recognized by the government, defend their land from corporate interests, and develop economic activities that allow them to live in dignity.

17 the number

of identified Indigenous peoples in Cambodia.

2/3 live

in the northeast provinces of Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri.

2001 the year

the Cambodian Land Act granted collective land ownership rights to Indigenous communities.