TED Fellows » TED Fellows Network » Sophal Ear

Sophal Ear

Post-conflict reconstruction educator

Fellows Class:
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Sophal Ear

Professional Role

Current Titles:

Assistant Professor of National Security Affairs, Vice-Chairman, Young Global Leader, Delphi Fellow, Term-Member, Development Consultant

Current Organizations:

US Naval Postgraduate School, Diagnostic Microbiology Development Program, World Economic Forum, BigThink, Council on Foreign Relations, AusAID


Uploaded Photos


No Taxation Means No Representation

Over-reliance on foreign aid as opposed to tax revenue, says Sophal Ear, a leading expert on post-crisis economies, leads to corruption.

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IBAP Annual Conference 2011 Day 1 Keynote 2 Sophal Ear

25th International Baccalaureate Asia Pacific Annual Conference 2011 Day 1 Keynote 2 (17 March) in Melbourne, Australia, by Sophal Ear, Ph.D. He was selected as a TED2009 Fellow for the 25th Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) Conference where he delivered a TED Talk and spoke at the Oslo Freedom Forum 2010. In March 2011, he was honored as a Young Global Leader 2011 by the World Economic Forum. He joined the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School's Department of National Security Affairs as an Assistant Professor in June 2007. The views expressed in his talk are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the US Navy or the US Department of Defense.

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Sophal Ear (អៀ សុផល) - Oslo Freedom Forum 2010 (English/Khmer) (ខ្មែរ)

Sophal Ear discusses how Cambodia - at one point an island of peace and a model of development as war raged in Vietnam - deteriorated into the home of one of the worst genocides of the 20th century. Ear explains his family's history as they were forced to move to the countryside once the Khmer Rouge took power and re-ordered society in pursuit of the agrarian utopia that they promised the Cambodian people. The result of this social experiment? The starvation of one out of every four Cambodians as they tried to live off of rationed porridge. 1.7 million died, including Ear's father. The only reason Ear is still alive today is that his mother was able to use her limited knowledge of Vietnamese to fake her identity and sneak her children out of Cambodia. Ear takes us inside Tuol Sleng, a school where the classrooms were transformed into torture chambers by the Khmer Rouge. 16,000 died in Tuol Sleng, and these jailers did not discriminate by age or gender. Shockingly, says Ear, is that many intellectuals in the West actually supported this barbaric regime. For example, Noam Chomsky, George Hildebrand, and Gareth Porter wrote favorably of the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s. More than three decades after the end of the Khmer Rouge regime, a four-year old Tribunal will render its verdict in July of 2010 on the guilt or innocence of the individual who ran Tuol Sleng. Ear's talk culminates in a plea for keeping an accurate historical record, one where genocide does not have a statute of limitations. លោក អៀ សុផល បង្ហាញថាកម្ពុជាគឺជាដែនកោះសន្តិភាពនិងជាគំរូអភិវឌ្ឍន៍មួយ ដែលជាអកុសលសង្គ្រាមនៅ វៀតណាមបានផ្ទុះឡើងហើយហូរចូលមកកម្ពុជា ហើយបង្កឲ្យមានអំពើប្រល័យពូជសាសន៍ដ៏យង់ឃ្នងមួយ។ លោកពន្យល់ពីប្រវត្តិគ្រួសាររបស់លោកដែលត្រូវបានជំលៀសចេញពីទីក្រុងទៅនៅជនបទ ក្រោយពីខ្មែរក្រហម ឡើងកាន់អំណាច ហើយបានរៀបចំសង្គមខ្មែរឡើងវិញដោយស្រមៃកសាងប្រទេសឲ្យមានភាពក្សេមក្សាន្តដោយ ផ្អែកតែទៅលើកសិកម្មប៉ុណ្ណោះ។ លទ្ធផលនៃពិសោធន៍សង្គមបែបនេះបានបណ្តាលឲ្យមនុស្ស១,៧លាននាក់បាន ស្លាប់ ដែលម្នាក់ក្នុងចំណោម៤នាក់ស្លាប់ដោយអត់អាហាររួមទាំងឳពុករបស់លោក។ មូលហេតុដែលលោកនៅមានជីវិតគឺដោយសារម្តាយរបស់លោកបាននិយាយភាសាវៀតណាមដែលគាត់ចេះបន្តិចបន្តួចបន្លំអត្តសញ្ញាណជួយឲ្យកូនៗគេចចេញពីកម្ពុជា។ លោករៀបរាប់ពីកន្លែងធ្វើទារុណកម្មនៅគុកទួលស្លែងដែលមានមនុស្ស១៦,០០០នាក់បានស្លាប់រួមមានស្ត្រី ក្មេងប្រុស-ស្រី។ មានបញ្ញាវន្តនៅលោកខាងលិចដូចជាលោក Noam Chomsky, George Hildebrand និង Gareth Porter បានសរសើរនិងគាំទ្រដល់របបព្រៃផ្សៃនេះដែលបណ្តាលឲ្យមានការយល់ច្រលំថាជារឿងល្អ។ សាលាក្តីខ្មែរក្រហមមួយដែលមានអាយុកាល៤ឆ្នាំនឹងកាត់ទោសបុគ្គលម្នាក់ដែលទទួលខុសគុកទួលស្លែង នៅខែកក្កដា ឆ្នាំ២០១០។ លោក សុផល បង្ហាញពីកំហុសក្នុងការដែលមិនបានថែរក្សាឯកសារ ប្រវតិ្តសាស្ត្រដ៏ត្រឹមត្រូវដែលចែងថាអំពើប្រល័យពូជសាសន៍ត្រូវតែកំណត់ដោយច្បាប់និងមានការកាត់ទោស។ http://www.twitter.com/oslofreedomfrm Translated into Khmer (Cambodian) by Socheata Vong, captions reviewed by Virak Kruy and Tharum Bun.

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Sophal Ear - Reinventing ourselves after genocide - Talk @ Concordia University, Montreal, Canada

Sophal Ear delivers a talk on "Reinventing Ourselves After Genocide: Justice for the Past and Accountability for the Future" at an International Colloquium entitled "Cambodia, from then to now: Memory and plural identities in the aftermath of the genocide", Concordia University, Montreal, Canada, 9 May 2011, 4:45pm.

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Claremont McKenna College Center for Human Rights Leadership - Sophal Ear - On Human Rights

"More Than Noble: How Human Rights Can Change Your Life or Human Rights: What's in It for You?", Luncheon, the Center for Human Rights Leadership, Claremont McKenna College, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles, CA, 11 February 2010.

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Sophal Ear - Young Global Leader 2011

www.weforum.org March 9, 2011 Ear Sophal, Assistant Professor of National Security Affairs, US Naval Postgraduate School, discusses his nomination as a YGL

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Portrait of A Survivor: Sophal Ear, Ph.D.

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Cambodia Politics

April 2006 Earlier this year it appeared Cambodia was sliding into an all out dictatorship. But weeks before an important donor meeting the leader has pardoned his rivals. A few weeks ago, opposition leader Sam Rainsy was in exile after being sentenced in absentia to 18 months in jail for defaming the Prime Minister. Other government critics were slapped with lawsuits. "We had to be very careful what we said. We didn't know the limits." But now the two men have made up and the pressure is on Rainsy to prove he won't become the PM's poodle. Produced by ABC Australia Distributed by Journeyman Pictures

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The Origins of the Cambodia War Crimes Tribunal

Historians SOPHAL EAR and PETER MAGUIRE talk about the difficult birth of the ECCC, its hybrid nature and what it may, or may not, achieve.

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With Trial Under Way, Tribunal Faces Questions of Legacy (Cambodia news in Khmer)

The international prosecutor at the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal says the court must work to ensure the practice of law if its legacy to Cambodia is to be assured. "We have to show a good example to young lawyers," Andrew Cayley told VOA Khmer in an interview. Cayley spoke after a talk he gave to law students at Rutgers, in the US state of New Jersey, last month. VOA Khmer's Say Mony reports. Find us on Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/109289307331230505852/

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Aid Dependence in Cambodia: How Foreign Assistance Undermines Democracy
10/23/2012 – present
This is my first book and will be published by Columbia University Press.
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Sophal Ear, Ph.D., joined the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School’s Department of National Security Affairs as an Assistant Professor in June 2007. He was selected as a TED2009 Fellow for the 25th Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) Conference where he delivered a TED Talk, spoke at the Oslo Freedom Forum 2010, and is a Delphi Fellow of Big Think where has been interviewed. In 2010, he was named a Fulbright Senior Specialist, and in 2011 he was honored as a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, and elected as a Term-Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He also serves as Vice-Chairman of Diagnostic Microbiology Development Program, a non-profit that builds capacity for reliable infectious diseases diagnosis in the developing world, is a Counsellor for the Cambodian Center for Human Rights and serve on the Academic Board of the Master of Development Studies Program at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, the Editorial Board of the International Public Management Journal, and the Editorial Review Board of the Journal of South-East Asian American Education & Advancement. His book Aid Dependence in Cambodia: How Foreign Assistance Undermines Democracy will be published by Columbia University Press on 23 October 2012. He has appeared in Brother Number One (directed by Annie Goldson), Fragile Hopes (directed by Tiara Delgado), and served as the key subject and the narrator/writer of End/Beginning: Cambodia (directed by Angie Swee). Prior to joining NPS, Prof. Ear was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Public Administration at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University in 2006-07, specializing in policy and administration in developing countries. He has a decade’s experience working for the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the United Nations Development Programme on post-conflict countries and specializes on Southeast Asia. His research has covered such varied topics as transitional justice, the Washington Consensus, governance and state fragility, poverty reduction, and the political economy of emerging infectious diseases such as H5N1 (Bird Flu) and A/H1N1 (Swine Flu). He worked as a World Bank consultant on Social Protection (welfare, pension systems, etc.) for three years, based in Washington, DC in 1997-2000 when, only four years earlier, he received welfare benefits as a minor. In 2008-2009, he researched the Political Economy of Growth for the Bank. In 2002-03, he was in charge of Democratic Governance as an Assistant Resident Representative for the United Nations Development Programme in East Timor, and prior to that consulted for the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank on the Middle East and North Africa (Algeria, and West Bank and Gaza). Prof. Ear received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley in 2006, and has three master’s degrees: a Master of Science in Agricultural and Resource Economics, a Master of Arts in Political Science (both from UC Berkeley) and a Master in Public Affairs in Economics and Public Policy from Princeton University. He has traveled extensively in Southeast Asia, living in the region for several years. He speaks French, Khmer, Vietnamese, and Spanish. He moved to the United States from France as a Cambodian refugee at the age of 10.

Fun facts

Favorite meal:
It's a Thursday in mid-February; the clouds are gathering. It's dinner time. The setting is a floating barge anchored in the Bay of Quy Nhon, Vietnam, the first dish is lemongrass infused clams with small bits of red chilis in the broth. Simple, exquisite. Flash back a few years; it's after TED2009, my wife and I have taken my mom to Gordon Ramsey's The London at West Hollywood. The prix fixe meal, in the company of my then eight-months pregnant wife and my mom (who would pass away six months later), is an all-time favorite meal; not highfalutin, but fine dining at its best.

A funny story about me:
I'm in a French kindergarten; it's 1980 or so; we are refugees from war-torn Cambodia who have just escaped the Killing Fields a few years earlier by way of Vietnam and my mother's ingenuity. The teacher puts a note in my backpack. My mom, who doesn't yet read French, throws it out. The teacher repeats this process until one day she accosts my mom when I get picked-up. "Madame Lim, your son isn't wearing underwear to school" she tells her. "We're too poor to buy underwear" mom replies. Shortly thereafter, in the case of the missing underwear, bags of clothes are delivered to our door--thanks to the community.

Vital Stats

Fellows Class
French (France)
Khmer (Cambodian)
Living in
Monterey, United States
Working in
Monterey, United States
Born in
Phnom Penh, Cambodia


faculty.nps.edu/sear www.sophalear.com www.cambodia.org/radsady

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