Development Policy and International Relations
In 1962, ICJ decided on the Preah Vihear case that the temple is shall be under Cambodia’s jurisdiction based on the map made in 1907. On 7 July 2008, under the effort of Royal Government of Cambodia, this ancient Shiva Temple known as Preah Vihear temple has become a World Heritage site. The Temple has an outstanding universal value which is stated by UNESCO that “The Temple of Preah Vihear, a unique architectural complex of a series of sanctuaries linked by a system of pavements and staircases on an 800 metre long axis, is an outstanding masterpiece of Khmer architecture, in terms of plan, decoration and relationship to the spectacular landscape environment.”
“Criterion (i): Preah Vihear is an outstanding masterpiece of Khmer architecture. It is very ‘pure’ both in plan and in the detail of its decoration.”
“Authenticity, in terms of the way the buildings and their materials express well the values of the property, has been established. The attributes of the property comprise the temple complex; the integrity of the property has to a degree been compromised by the absence of part of the promontory from the perimeter of the property. The protective measures for the Temple, in terms of legal protection are adequate; the progress made in defining the parameters of the Management Plan needs to be consolidated into an approved, full Management Plan.”
Unfortunately, the temple is seriously damaged which caused by Thailand during the confrontation in April 2011. The border conflict between Cambodia-Thailand over the case of Preah Vihear zone has been carrying on for 5 years. It happened after Cambodia asked UNESCO for setting this Shiva Temple to be a World Heritage site in July 2008. More importantly, it caused thousands of both Cambodian-Thai people moved out from their houses living nearby the border and the tension still remained escalating during the Abhisit Vejjajiva’s administration. The conflict is struck because:
– Thailand side: Based on unilateral map, the zone nearby the temple (4.6) is under controlled by Thailand.
– Cambodia side: There is no 4.6 nearby the temple.
Actually, Thailand has recognized the jurisdiction of Cambodia over the Preah Vihear Temple since the 1962. It’s such a very long time ago that Thailand has never rejected the map or jurisdiction. And we haven’t seen any document stated or related to 4.6.
As a consequence of Cambodia-Thai confrontation and responding to Cambodia’s request in April 2011, ICJ issued a regulation on 18 July 2011 which demanded both Cambodia and Thai to redeploy their military from what they called demilitarized zone of Preah Vihear site.
Most importantly, ICJ hearing of interpretation of Preah Vihear Judgment in 1962 will be made on 15-19 April 2013.
Looking at Thailand, there is an extremist group of hundreds people who oppose to the jurisdiction of ICJ by gathering in the province nearby the border and attempting to reach the temple. That is not the first time of doing so. This extremist group also demands Yingluck Shinawatra‘s administration to deny the decision of ICJ and claiming that they are protecting their sovereignty. Even though, they have their rights to protect their sovereignty, but these doings are not complying to international law and will violate Cambodia for sure. And that would be unacceptable since there is a certain global order which is maintained by international law, ICJ, and specially guaranteed by UNSC.
looking at Cambodia’s side, there is no such an extremist group as Thailand does and people still remain calm and waiting. Samdach HUN Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia recently asked to gain more attentions on any unpredictable circumstance which caused by Thai’s extremist group. Cambodia again and again indicated its position to fully respect for upcoming interpretation of ICJ, no matter what. To Cambodia, there is only this mechanism that would bring best resolution for both sides without using force. In this sense, Cambodia seem to be more older before international law and its obligation in the international stage.
Since Cambodia and Thailand are neighbor countries, members of ASEAN, and have shared many interests in terms of economic, socio-cultural exchanges along its border, they shall remain calm and respect for upcoming interpretation of ICJ in 15-19 April 2013. Particularly, both military shall have good communications, shall often have meetings to discuss on recent development, and shall avoid any unilateral provocative act which may effect not only both countries but also to the region as a whole.
If both are able to do so, then the final resolution of Cambodia-Thailand conflict over the Shiva temple which known as Preah Vihear will be ended up peacefully with no recurrence, no effect on relationship, and less transaction cost.