Signing of Cultural Agreement between Cambodia and the United States

For Immediate Release
August 30, 2023 


PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – The U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh and the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts signed a U.S.-Cambodia cultural cooperation agreement today at the National Museum, extending for another five years the United States’ long-standing commitment to preserving and restoring Cambodia’s rich cultural heritage.  Cambodia is the only county in Southeast Asia with this agreement.  The first Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed in 2003. 

The extension of the MOU between the United States and the Royal Government of Cambodia, concerning “the Imposition of Import Restrictions on Categories of Archaeological and Ethnological Materials of Cambodia,” will reduce the pillaging of irreplaceable archaeological material from Cambodia and continue the exchange of archaeological and ethnological materials for cultural, educational, and scientific purposes to promote public appreciation of and access to Cambodia’s rich cultural heritage.   

Over the past 20 years, this MOU has facilitated the return of over 100 priceless antiquities and built the capacity of Cambodians working on cultural heritage preservation.  

At the ceremony, U.S. Ambassador W. Patrick Murphy also announced a $450,000 award through U.S. Embassy Phnom Penh’s Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation to continue the restoration of the 9th century Phnom Bakheng temple.  

In his remarks, Ambassador Murphy said, “Both our countries recognize the power of culture to bring people together.  The United States is proud of its contribution to restoring and preserving Cambodia’s cultural heritage for generations to come.” 

H.E. Dr. Phoeurng Sackona remarked “For decades, Cambodia’s cultural artifacts have been looted and acquired by private collectors and museums around the world.  Effective measures to counter the illicit trade of artifacts and cultural property depend on close cooperation…Collaboration between the United States and Cambodia is crucial in combatting the illicit trade of artifacts.” 

Her Excellency Minister Phoeurng Sackona also expressed thanks to the United States Government for the continued support in the field of cultural protection and preservation. 

Since 2001, the United States has provided almost $6 million for the cultural preservation of Cambodia’s culture, including previous grants to restore Preah Vihear temple, support the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum, create digital inventories of objects at provincial museums, and educate the public on cultural heritage protection.