The purpose of this paper is to look into the reasons behind a state’s’controls on individual’s migration and its control mechanism, based on the case study on Cambodia’s regulation on international marriage. This study took migration via international marriage as a form of migration. Marriage is often considered as the realm of private sphere, but it also belongs to the social realm because family created by marriage is the fundamental unity of a society. In addition, the tacit premise of marriage, which is an official cohabitation with a spouse, dictates that in case of international marriage one or both of the couple might immigrate to a different country. Therefore international marriage needs to be differentiated from the other forms of marriage and should be considered as a migration issue. In particular, the recent increase of international marriage of Asian women and their migration makes this social phenomenon, as one which goes beyond an individual’s private choice, and this condition prompts states to search for intervention measures.
In 2008, Cambodian government banned arranged marriage by agencies and enacted the ‘Sub-Decree N.183 on Regulating Formalities and Procedures for Marriage between Cambodian Citizens and Foreigners.’ In 2011, the government even further toughened its regulation on international marriage, by adding eligibility clause in the decree for foreign males who would wish to wed Cambodian women, which stipulates that those males should meet certain requirements such as income level and age. These regulations could be interpreted as the state’s measure to prevent human trafficking in the form of international marriage, as were found in some cases, and to protect its nationals.
However, this one element would not suffice to explain all aspects of the Cambodian government’s regulation on international marriage.
Since the government’s announcement on measures to address international marriage issue, it had taken three years before the current policy took form and fully implemented, during which the policy direction has changed from a form of improving marriage registration procedure to state’s intervention in limiting eligibility of spouses. Therefore, this thesis looked into how the government came to acknowledge the need for the policy in the beginning and how polices have evolved in the form and contents, and what elements have affected the policy making process.
The dependent variable in this study is the implementation of regulations on international marriage by Cambodian government, which has been affected by external, social, circumstantial and organizational factors. More specifically, these factors are categorized into pressure from international community, demographic-social structure, international marriage trend, and internal policy directions. The cases in this study have a distinguishing characteristic in the fact that, although the state controls the emigration of its nationals, the actual control targets foreigners who want to initiate the emigration, which can potentially cause diplomatic tension. This study points out that a state’s organizational attributes could limit the policy making process and its results.
Most of females in home country who intend to marry different nationals assume they will immigrate to their spouses’ countries, and gaps in the policies can be complemented by enactment of regulations or rules in the counterpart’s country in the context of international relations. The regulation case in Cambodia has meaningful implications in policy making as emigration of Asian women via international marriage has emerged as a distinct form of migration, and many more their countries have experienced common issues stemmed from the migration, and have attempted similar ways of control.