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ICJ’s Verdict to Settle the Phra Viharn Interpretation Case

November 14, 2013 Destination Thailand No Comments Email Email

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on 11 November 2013 did not address the issue of the disputed 4.6-square-kilometer area surrounding the Phra Viharn, or Preah Vihear, Temple.
It decided that Cambodia had sovereignty over the whole territory of the promontory of Phra Viharn, which is located in an overlapping area on the Thai-Cambodian border.

The Thai Ambassador to The Hague and leader of the Thai legal team, Mr. Virachai Plasai, said that, according to the ICJ judgment, Cambodia did not gain all the 4.6-square-kilometer area that it had claimed. This meant that Cambodia did not have sovereignty over Phnom Trap, or Phu Makhuea. It won only a small piece of the disputed area and the exact size is being calculated.

Since ICJ confirmed its 1962 judgment that the Phra Viharn Temple was under Cambodian sovereignty, Thailand was under an obligation to withdraw from that territory the Thai military or police forces that were stationed in the vicinity. As the Phra Viharn Temple is a site of religious and cultural significance for the peoples of the region and is now listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site, ICJ suggested that Thailand and Cambodia cooperate in the protection of the site.

Prime Minister and Defense Minister Yingluck Shinawatra stated that, in the ICJ ruling, Thailand and Cambodia were urged to hold talks to settle the territorial dispute. The Court did not consider Cambodia’s claim over the area of 4.6 square kilometers surrounding the temple. Its ruling covers only the whole territory of the promontory of Phra Viharn. So both countries need to hold further discussions through existing mechanisms to settle the issue.

Prime Minister Yingluck said that the Thai legal team had done its best in carrying out its assignment at the ICJ’s public hearings on Phra Viharn in April 2013. The Government has instructed the legal team to study ICJ’s verdict in detail and offer recommendations for the Government to consider before it takes further action.

She reiterated that the Government would place priority on the country’s sovereignty and national interests, as well as the pride of Thailand and ASEAN. In this regard, the Government had instructed military and security officials to maintain peace and security along the border and protect the lives and property of people living in border areas.

She said that Thailand and Cambodia share a long border of almost 800 kilometers. They are also members of ASEAN and need to rely on each other for peace and prosperity. Both countries also share many cultural similarities. So they need to cooperate for the happiness of their people.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said that both Thailand and Cambodia were satisfied with the ICJ’s verdict on 11 November 2013. They would continue to hold talks on the border issue under the Thailand-Cambodia Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation.

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