An idea taking rooting only 13 months ago, the conference on Self Determination in International Law has exceeded the expectations of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF) and the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) delegations. Months prior to the conference, local community Khmer-Krom leaders and youths have been actively organizing events to help fundraise for much need funds. For Mr. Chau Siep, KKF President in the Chapter of Victoria, Australia did his part. He embarked on a mission to educate the Khmer and Khmer-Krom community about Khmer Krom’s suffering and the new hope that KKF brings to the millions of indigenous peoples of Vietnam. His efforts and the generosity of the community fundraised approximately $10,000AUS to help KKF fulfill its missions. An exceptionally man, he is just one of many dedicated Khmer-Krom individuals making justice possible for the Khmer-Krom people living in Kampuchea Krom. Also referred as a symposium, the three-day conference was organized into five sessions followed by a question and answer period to allow participants to engage in an active dialogue and debate with the panel of experts. The opening session was officially opened by Joshua Cooper, Director of the Hawaii Institute for Human Rights who extended a special welcome to all guest speakers as well as Khmer-Krom and Khmer delegates traveling from all corners of the earth to attend this historic conference. Chaired by Mr. Goran Hansson, UNPO Chairman, the opening session was addressed by two honored and distinguish guest speakers. Firstly, the participants were enlightened about the International Court of Justice, its legacy of peace and justice. Spoken by Judge Abdul G. Koroma, he gave a brief insight into the role of the International Court of Justice in dealing with conflict resolutions between States. Professor Rodolfo Stavenhagen, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples was the second honored speaker; he spoke about his position and the concept of self-determination. An exceptional gifted speaker, he explained to the participants the meaning of self-determination, decolonization, its history and the various grounds in which indigenous peoples such as the Khmer-Krom people could pursue. Distinguished experts in the field of indigenous peoples and international law addressed the first session. Speakers include Mr. Aqqaluk Lynge (President, Inuit Circumpolar Council and Member of UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues), Mr. Niccolo Figa-Talamanca (Executive Director, No Peace without Justice), Ms. Franci Taylor (Lecturer from Leiden University) and Mr. Thach Ngoc Thach (KKF President), who spoke about the Khmer-Krom history. A reception was then hosted in The Hague city hall in which all participants of the conference were invited. It provided a unique opportunity for the Khmer-Krom people as well as other participants to meet the international recognized experts and develop a working relationship. Amongst the speakers was an elder indigenous women who gave a blessing in her language for the participants of conference for it brought together amazing people who cared for one another. Likewise, KKF Chairman Mr. To Kim Thong empathized the need for mutal respect, justice, peace and harmony between peoples. The second day of the conference proved to be a stimulating event. Chaired by Mr. Marco Perduca, the topic of the Right of Self Determination in International Human Rights Law Machinery was addressed by Dr. Catherine Brolmann (Professor of the University of Amsterdam and Ms. Anna Batalla (Consultant in the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights). The second part of the morning session was addressed by a diverse range of speakers including Mr. Cecilia Nilsson Kleffner (Legal Advisor and Head of the Hague office of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Mr. Niccolo Figa-Talamanca, Professor Dr. G.G. J. Knoops (University of Utrecht) and Ms. Alison Smith (Program Director of No Peace Without Justice). After lunch, the third session was chaired by Mr. Joshua Cooper entitled Models of Self-Determination. The session was designed to provide a unique opportunity for practitioners of leading models of Self-Determination to share their knowledge and experiences from an indigenous perspective. The speakers included Mr. Johan Mikkel Sara (Vice President of the Sami Parliament) and Mr. Aqqaluk Lygne. Mr. Jake Swamp, Chief of the Mohawk Nation in Canada was the final speaker for the third session. Speaking directly from his heart, his words captivated the attention of all the participants and brought tears to the many present. He spoke about the painfully suffering of indigenous peoples including his people and their determination to survive against all odds. In particular, he spoke about the concept of a large tree, of the greater indigenous family in which the Khmer-Krom is a member. He spoke of hope and the need for the next generation to help their elders relieve the burden of the tree, which has fallen down with the onset of greater colonizing powers. His words touched a chord within the Khmer-Krom hearts for the concept of the tree was similar to the well-known tree planted by Governor Son Kuy in Preah Trapeang during the 1600s. The tree was planted with its roots up, a concept unheard of and yet the tree continues to flourish today and represents the Khmer-Krom culture and identity. It is believed that as long as the tree keeps growing, the Khmer-Krom identity will continue to live forever in their beloved ancestral lands. The topic entitled, UN Decolonization Committee; A Process of Steps Towards Self-Determination is yet another course in which indigenous peoples could chose to pursue. The impressive line up of speakers included Mr. Marco Perduca, Mr. Pedro Pinto Leite (Secretary General, International Platform of Jurist for East Timor) and Dr. Educardo Welsh (Editor and former UNPO Programme Director). In his concluding speech for the day, Mr. Joshua Cooper spoke about the KKF’s relentless pursue of human rights for their beloved people in Kampuchea Krom. He spoke about how the KKF has stepped up their campaign in the international spotlight and their amazing achievements in the past five years including this conference. Echoing Mr. Cooper’s words earlier was Mr. Marco Perduca, who praised members of the federation, stating that they were the fast growing non-governmental organization in the world. Saturday 30th of September ended with a special procession and candle light vigil from The Hague City Hall to the Peace Palace. Local traffic came to a stand still as Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks, guests and participants carried candles towards the Peace Palace with the Khmer-Krom and UNPO flags flying proud. Yet another historic event, the candles were lit to commemorate and raise awareness of those who were prevented from joining the march. Upon arrival of the gates of the Peace Palace, a young group of men from Cameroon sang a special song called, “When shall I see my home again?” It struck a chord for the many Khmer-Krom present for they are also waiting for the time in which they could return home to Kampuchea-Krom and once again be united with their families and friends. A prayer for peace was then chanted by the Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks embedding the sense of purpose and the need for urgent actions to be done for the millions of voiceless Khmer-Krom people in the Mekong Delta. The final day of the conference proved to be as inspirational as the other two days. Chaired by KKF’s Chairman Mr. To Kim Thong, a premiere screening “Eliminated without Bleeding” was showcased. A Khmer-Krom film by director Rebecca Sommer displayed the stark reality that the Khmer-Krom people face and their silent and often deadly oppression by Vietnamese authorities. Furthermore, a declaration on Self Determination in International Law was adopted by participants at the Symposium at 12.40pm, 1st October 2006. The declaration marked an important development for the Khmer-Krom people and indigenous peoples and organizations worldwide to fully realize their self determination. In the closing remarks, Mr. Marino Busdachin and Mr. To Kim Thong expressed their appreciation and thanks to the many guests and participants who made a big effort in attending the conference. They also thanked the work of the young KKF and UNPO teams for the smooth operation and organization of the conference. Mr. Thach Ngoc Thach, KKF President also took the opportunity to speak to the many Khmer-Krom and Khmer people present. He spoke of the need of the people to remain strong and unite as one under the umbrella of the KKF. The successful completion of this international conference is yet another phenomenal achievement of the KKF to advocate for the rights of their indigenous peoples. Despite the long road ahead, KKF continues to take slow but steady steps towards achieving Self-Determination. Members of the KKF advanced to France to continue their campaign to educate and enlighten the Khmer and Khmer-Krom community about their past, current and future activities in the hope of embedding the sense of purpose, identity and unity as a greater Khmer-Krom family.