Development Policy and International Relations
(Photo: Khmer RFI)
The decision made by the ICJ in 1962 has already indicated that the mountain-hindu temple namely “Preah Vihear” is located in the Cambodia’s territory under the sovereignty of Kingdom of Cambodia. And Thailand government has the obligations to comply with the decision by withdrawing troops and all kinds of forces from the temple. Unfortunately, the conflict was erupted once again in July 2008 while Royal Government of Cambodia had tried to apply for UNESCO World Heritage Status for Preah Vihear Temple. Thailand has came up with an unilateral map claiming for the vicinity of the temple. More seriously, as the tension was highly escalated in April 2011, at least 28 people have been killed and ten thousand were displace along Cambodia-Thai border and it caused serious damage to the world heritage temple. Cambodia therefore has sought for third party for resolving this conflict from ASEAN framework to UN Security Counicl; and at the final stage, Cambodia has filed request for ICJ’s interpretation on the 1962 judgment.
Therefore on 11 Nov 2013,
Once again, the International Court of Justice in the Hague said Thailand must withdraw troops from around the hilltop temple. “The court unanimously declares that Cambodia has sovereignty over the whole of the territory of the promontory of Preah Vihear,” said Peter Tomka, president of the International Court of Justice. Download: Summary of the Judgment of 11 Nov 2013 and Watch full videos here for UN WEB TV.
Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday expressed his satisfactions with the verdict of the International Court of Justice. He also urged all types of armed forces who are on duties to defend the border to continue keeping calm, exercising utmost restraint, and avoiding any activities that could lead to tension or clashes in order to provide possibilities for the governments of Cambodia and Thailand to discuss the implementation of the verdict.
Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said the ICJ’s decision clearly showed that the temple’s vicinity belongs to Cambodia. Therefore, it needs political wills by the two countries to fully implement the verdict in order to avoid any military clashes. The verdict will bring peace to the border area. He said the court has delimited in the area of the temple and its vicinity by the line on the Annex I map. This map will be the base for the two countries to discuss in order to demarcate the borderline based on the existing mechanism–the Joint Border Commission.
Thailand is satisfied with the International Court of Justice ruling and is ready to work with Cambodia to carry out actions pursuant to the verdict. Thailand and Cambodia would have to work out solutions that benefit both nations, Prime Minister Yingluck said at a press conference in Bangkok yesterday evening. She also assured the public that the government would prioritise Thailand’s sovereignty and national interests, as well as the nation’s pride and its standing in ASEAN. The government has also instructed military officers to maintain peace along the border.
Saying that there was no point in declaring a winner or loser, Virachai Plasai, who was part of the team representing Thailand at the ICJ, said the commission would define the “small area” connected to the promontory of Preah Vihear as well as find solutions to jointly develop the 4.6-square-kilometre area. The ICJ yesterday ruled that the vicinity of Preah Vihear Temple under the Annex I map came under the sovereignty of Cambodia. But Thailand did not lose the disputed area of 4.6sqkm adjacent to the temple as the court had limited the interpretation only to the promontory of Preah Vihear, Virachai said.
We have noted that both primers have expressed their satisfactions with the 11 November verdict of the International Court of Justice and also declared their political commitment for further cooperation. Cambodia and Thailand have to work more for further demarcating border line as the Court only decides on the “promontory of Preah Vihear” where it belongs to Cambodia; at the same time Thailand had claimed and maintained that ownership of the rest of the hilltop – a 4.6-square km section of land – had not been settled. The court does not mention whether the 1962 Judgment regarded Phnom Trap as part of Cambodia nor Thailand’s sovereignty. Thus, the next tasks that both countries need to do is to continue maintaining peace, security and cooperation through dialogues, consultations, and negotiations. As Cambodia and Thailand are member states of ASEAN family and as the ASEAN Economic Community will be realized by 2015, they shall work closely and collaboratively to bring the border of conflict to become the border of prosperity for both nations. In this sense, they could use the existing bilateral mechanism, Joint Border Commission to be exact, and plus with the ASEAN coordinator to be an observer to ensure the mechanism is work in accordance with the ICJ’s decision.