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Thai-Cambodian Negotiations Lie ahead on Phra Viharn

November 16, 2013 Destination Thailand No Comments Email Email

1331772416pNegotiations lie ahead between Thailand and Cambodia to discuss the extent of the vicinity of the Temple of Phra Viharn, based on the International Court of Justice’s ruling.
Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs Sihasak Phuangketkeow said that Thailand would do so in good faith, while also being determined to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as respecting the rule of law and international law.

Thailand believes that the Court’s ruling will provide a basis for both countries to reach an amicable solution. The Permanent Secretary expressed concern that the Court’s ruling has been reported in the press as a win-lose situation, when in fact neither side can claim complete victory.

In response to a question from the media on whether the ruling would have any impact on the talks Thailand and Cambodia are already engaged in, he said that both sides can now turn toward serious negotiations and should move forward on the basis of the 2000 Memorandum of Understanding on the Survey and Demarcation of Land Boundary between Thailand and Cambodia (MoU 2000).

On 11 November 2013, the International Court of Justice read its ruling on the request for the interpretation of the judgment of 1962 in the case concerning the Temple of Phra Viharn submitted by Cambodia. Cambodia claimed that the two countries held differing opinions regarding the vicinity of the temple. It also claimed that the vicinity should be in accordance with the 1:200,000 scale map, also known as the Annex I map, that Cambodia attached in its submission in the 1962 case.

The main points of the ruling are as follows:

1. The Court had jurisdiction to entertain the request for interpretation but only in respect of matters within the scope of the original judgment. Therefore, the Court ruled only on the issue of the vicinity and not the boundary.

2. The Court did not rule in favor of Cambodia’s claim that the vicinity encompassed a 4.6 sq. km. area and did not rule whether the Annex I map was binding on Thailand and Cambodia as regards the boundary in general.

3. The Court ruled that the vicinity of the temple was a very small area, which it described simply as the promontory of the temple. The Court did not draw an exact line to define the area but gave a description of the topography of the vicinity. Therefore, Thailand and Cambodia would have to discuss the extent of the vicinity based on the Court’s ruling, and the Court urged both countries to negotiate in good faith.

4. The Court advised Thailand and Cambodia to cooperate in maintaining and protecting the temple of Phra Viharn as a World Heritage site.

Following the reading, the Prime Minister of Thailand gave an initial statement on the Court’s ruling, emphasizing the need for both sides to maintain good relations. Regarding the next steps to be taken, the Permanent Secretary explained that the Prime Minister had assigned a task force, headed by the Permanent Secretary himself and composed of key agencies and legal experts who would study the details of the ruling. After this is completed, it is hoped that consultations between the two countries can commence. In this regard, the Prime Minister has stressed that the process would have to respect Thailand’s constitutional procedures.

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