News / Asia

World Court Awards Some Territory to Cambodia in Temple Dispute

World Court Awards Some Land to Cambodia in Temple Disputei
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November 11, 2013 6:02 PM
The International Court of Justice has ruled that part of a disputed patch of land around a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Thai-Cambodian border belongs to Cambodia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok that both countries say they will work together to implement the court decision.
The International Court of Justice has ruled that part of a disputed patch of land around a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Thai-Cambodian border belongs to Cambodia. Both countries say they will work together to implement the court decision.

The unanimous ruling by the 17 judges of the world court says all of the raised land on which the ancient Khmer Hindu temple sits belongs to Cambodia.
 
The court’s president, Judge Peter Tomka, read the decision Monday at the Hague, noting the ICJ’s previous ruling on the matter in 1962 awarding the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple itself to Cambodia.
 
“…in consequence, the second operative paragraph requires Thailand to withdraw from that territory the Thai military or police forces or other guards or keepers who were stationed there,” said Tomka.
 
While adjusting some of the disputed boundary, the decision leaves unresolved the sovereignty of much of the 4.6 square kilometer area in the immediate vicinity of the religious site.
 
Sensitive timing
 
The ruling comes at a particularly sensitive time for the political leaders of both countries.  They have been facing street protests questioning their legitimacy and authority and there are worries in both capitals that the ruling about the temple could be taken up by the political opposition.
 
Location of Preah Vihear templeLocation of Preah Vihear temple
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Location of Preah Vihear temple
Location of Preah Vihear temple
The ICJ decision rejects some territorial claims in the area made by each country thus it is not a total victory for either side.
 
But even before the verdict was issued, self proclaimed patriots on both sides of the disputed border had stated they were prepared to fight if the verdict did not go their way or if there are perceived provocations across the border.
 
Within hours of the verdict, Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra appeared in a nationally televised address, saying the court had taken her country’s stance into consideration and that Bangkok should work with Phnom Penh to resolve outstanding issues.
 
The prime minister said Thailand’s sovereignty will be protected, that the border area is calm and that the army has the situation under control.
 
At The Hague, Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong also expressed satisfaction with the verdict and called for continued negotiations between the two governments “in order the keep the problem under control.”
 
The unresolved territorial issue led to the armies of the two countries, in 2011, exchanging artillery fire, resulting in dozens of deaths.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

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Comments
     
by: sav nuon from: Lowell, Massachusett -USA
November 11, 2013 4:23 PM
To my brother and sister in Cambodia, stand and get ready to protect our land at all time. Because this is what we have left from all the thife around us, that been stole our land. As specially SIAM that call themself THAI today. They'll plan to trick again and for the two Tough guy you both need to put your mind on the LAND first. To PM HUN SEN you need stop sale Cambodia LAND to Yun or Veitnam and to Mr. Ransy the oposition leader, the last time I lesent to your speach in Lowell, MA. Sir, you kept talking about YUN? What about Siem ?

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