'I enjoyed all the courses because they gave me more insights into the complexity of international law...'
Advocacy Director, Cambodian Center for Human Rights, Cambodia
Piseth hopes to become an integral part of the endeavour for international human rights laws, with his home country Cambodia being an important contributor to developing international and domestic politics.
His current work as an Advocacy Director for the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) within its Management Committee allows him to have a direct impact on advocacy projects in the region, such as human rights education and awareness, and LGBT discrimination and protection rights.
‘The main focus of CCHR is to promote human rights and democracy throughout Cambodia,’ he says. ‘As the Advocacy Director, my main role is to provide support to all of CCHR’s research, policy and advocacy initiatives as well as all CCHR’s project activities. I also work with the CCHR team to realise the objectives set forth within CCHR’s Strategic Plan, while occasionally representing CCHR in some events or workshops domestically and internationally.’
Studying the Master of Laws (International Law and Politics) was the perfect solution for Piseth to gain a background in international humanitarian laws from a different cultural perspective. He received a New Zealand ASEAN Scholar Award to fund his master’s and travel to New Zealand.
‘I chose to come to New Zealand because the education system in this country is internationally recognised one of the best in the world, it has a stunning landscape with natural beauty and friendly people, and New Zealand is a safe and peaceful country where everyone enjoys equality and mutual respect,’ he says.
‘UC was my priority destination because of its international recognition, highly respected and experienced professors and lecturers, and alumni, with the likes of John Key, whom I met twice during the study field trip to New Zealand Parliament and during his visit to Cambodia after resigning as Prime Minister. I can say it was a dream come true.’
He definitely found his experiences at UC to be ‘once in a lifetime’, particularly enjoying the study environment amongst students from around the world, and events and support services to settle into campus lifestyle.
‘It was a great experience for me personally to live and study in New Zealand. I found it really convenient and secure, while I also met a number of Cambodia community members who have been living in New Zealand for so many years. I joined the Cambodian community for a weekly football session and cross-cultural football tournament.’
Piseth’s focus in his master’s included courses on European Law, Human Rights Laws and intervention, and international relations, with a thesis on the international influence of ASEAN politics.
‘I really enjoyed all the courses that I undertook because they gave me more insights into the complexity and applicability of international law and politics. I also enjoyed the independent study environment which provided me with more space and opportunities to pursue what I believed related to my background, experience and region.’
As such, Piseth looks forward to more prospects in the legal sphere in the near future.
‘My career goals are to become an expert in human rights and law domestically and internationally, and to become an attorney-at-law specialising in human rights and criminology. I have already applied for a lawyer’s license at the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia.’
Even with his strong ambitions for Cambodia, Piseth still looks back at his time with UC fondly.
‘Although I’ve returned Cambodia, my memories and love for New Zealand and the University remain,’ he says. ‘I hope that one day I can visit UC and New Zealand again.’