Monday, 18 July 2011

ICJ issues provisional ruling on Cambodia-Thailand temple case

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has issued a ruling on provisional measures in the Cambodia-Thailand Preah Vihear temple case, on Monday 18th July.

The Court, the UN's highest body, ordered both sides to immediately withdraw their military personnel from a newly defined provisional demilitarised zone.

It also ruled that Thailand should not obstruct Cambodia's free access to the Preah Vihear temple, prevent it from providing supplies to non-military personnel, and should restart talks though ASEAN.

The Court unanimously rejected Thailand's request for the case, which was introduced by Cambodia, to be thrown out.

Both sides appear to have accepted the ruling. Thailand's acting foreign minister, Kasit Piromya, said the Thai government would comply with the order, and that he was pleased that the order applied to both countries, rather than just Thailand as Cambodia had hoped for.

Cambodia's Foreign Minister Hor Namhong also viewed the ruling as a victory. “It will be tantamount to the cessation of aggression of Thailand against Cambodia,” he was quoted in the New York Times as saying.

At the heart of the dispute is the eleventh century Preah Vihear temple. In 1962, the ICJ ruled that the temple lay within Cambodian territory, based on a 1907 French-Thai map. But the territory around the temple was not demarcated, and has caused problems ever since.

Cambodia won unilateral UNESCO World Heritage Status for the temple in 2008, which sparked a brief border conflict. There have been further clashes since, and over 30 people have died in a series of border clashes in 2011 alone.

Monday's decision is the first in what promises to be a lengthy and complicated judicial process, according to the BBC.

Sources: BBC News, ICJ, MCOT, New York Times

For more information, please see the Menas Borders website, here.

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