ICJ’s Order re Cambodia vs. Thailand

This order is fair. Thank you to all judges of the ICJ. Peace and harmony for Khmers and Thais, always. Granted that there are ignorant and belligerent people in Thailand and Cambodia who ascribe to the tough-mindedness and saving-face mantra, this is a fair order; especially for those of us who want peace and harmony. Sadly, there are already bullies ignoring the decision, just like they ignored the verdict on June 15, 1962. If there is justice, like the decisions of June 15, 1962 and July 18, 2011, peace and harmony will prevail.

Article from the The New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/19/world/asia/19temple.html)

U.N. Court Orders Troops From Temple on Thai-Cambodian Border


Published: July 18, 2011

BANGKOK — The top judicial body of the United Nations on Monday sought to defuse tensions at a Southeast Asian flash point, ordering Cambodia and Thailand to withdraw troops from a disputed temple and establishing a demilitarized zone along their mountainous border.

The two countries have fought each other numerous times in recent years near Preah Vihear, an ancient hilltop temple that stirs nationalist sentiments in both countries.

The court order to “immediately withdraw” military personnel from around the temple was an international legal obligation “with which both Parties were required to comply,” according to a statement released by the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Judges at the United Nations court ruled, 11 to 5, in favor of the withdrawal and established a demilitarized zone approximately 4.5 miles by 2.5 miles.

Thailand’s acting foreign minister, Kasit Piromya, told reporters in The Hague that the Thai government would comply with the order. “We are satisfied that the withdrawal of troops is applicable to both Cambodia and Thailand,” he said, according to the Reuters news agency.

Cambodia’s foreign minister, Hor Namhong, praised the decision, Reuters reported. “This map means there will be a permanent cease-fire,” he said. “It will be tantamount to the cessation of aggression of Thailand against Cambodia.”

Despite the ruling, a resolution to the conflict still seems far off.

The long-running border dispute has been poisoned by domestic politics in both Thailand and Cambodia. One political faction in Thailand accused the other of selling out to Cambodia, a historical rival.

Yet protests by Thai nationalists failed to gain traction and petered out earlier this month. And Suwit Khunkitti, a Thai government minister who had based a recent election campaign on Thailand’s rights to the temple, failed to win a seat in the July 3 election.

Mr. Suwit, the acting minister for natural resources and the environment, said Monday that he disagreed with the verdict and that Thailand did not “have to follow it if it is a violation of the country’s sovereignty.”

The court on Monday also said it would pursue a “request for interpretation” on a previous judgment over the crucial question of who controls the temple and, possibly, the surrounding area. In the meantime, the court said, observers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations should be allowed into the demilitarized zone.

Thailand’s July 3 election has held out hope for a détente between the two countries. The victory of the party allied to Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister, were welcomed by the Cambodian leader, Hun Sen, who once hired Mr. Thaksin as his economic adviser. But that election result has yet to be confirmed by Thailand’s election commission and is being challenged in the courts.

The dispute over the temple has its roots in the period when French colonizers controlled what is modern-day Cambodia. In the early 1900s, French surveyors traced the border line along the watershed of the Dangrek mountain range, but deviated from the watershed at Preah Vihear, placing the temple inside Cambodia. It was an awkward demarcation because of the temple’s location on a bluff more easily accessed from Thailand.

But Thailand’s government made no protest at the time and used the French maps as their own, according to a judgment by the International Court of Justice in 1962. That judgment established that the temple should be inside Cambodian territory. But the ruling did not address the sovereignty of the land surrounding the temple, which is the subject of the ongoing dispute.


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