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World Court rules for Thailand and Cambodia to adopt peaceful means

Nov 11. 2013
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The International Court of Justice (ICJ)'s verdict on the Preah Vihear territory requires Thailand and Cambodia to sort out their differences though "peaceful means."

The ICJ unanimously found that Cambodia's interpretation of the sovereignty over the whole monastery "admissible" and Thailand is under the obligation to withdraw military troops from that territory. 

However, it did not mention the sovereignty of Phnom Trap, urging both parties to solve the dispute by peaceful means. The area, part of the 4.6 square kilometre, is the centre of this dispute.

Yet, the ICJ’s ruling confirmed confirmed Phnom Penh's sovereignty over the whole of a disputed promontory bearing a Cambodian temple on the border with Thailand.

"The Court therefore concludes that the first operative paragraph of the 1962 Judgment determined that Cambodia had sovereignty over the whole territory of the promontory of Preah Vihear, as defined in paragraph 98 of the present Judgment, and that, in consequence, the second operative paragraph required Thailand to withdraw from that territory the Thai military or police forces, or other guards or keepers, that were stationed there," according to the statement. (The full version can be read here:


The ICJ’s ruling confirmed Phnom Penh's sovereignty over the whole of a disputed promontory bearing a Cambodian temple on the border with Thailand.

 Thai Ambassador to the Netherlands Virachai Plasai said Cambodia had only won a small piece of the disputed territory. "We are still calculating the exact amount," he said.

 Thai Foreign Minister Suraphong Tovichaichaikul said "Both sides are satisfied with the court's decision."  

 The court also rejected Cambodia's claim that it was also awarded a nearby hill, called Phnum Trap, by the 1962 ICJ ruling that was being interpreted in Monday's judgement.

The majority of the border between Thailand and Cambodia was delimited more than a century ago, but the boundary near Preah Vihear has yet to be demarcated. The line has not yet been settled. Cambodia, 50 years after the initial judgement, submitted a request for an interpretation of the judgement to define precisely the "vicinity" of the temple. 

A 1962 verdict by the International Court of Justice declared the temple to be Cambodian, but did not rule on the area around it. Cambodia sought a clarification of the ruling in 2011, after fighting erupted. The violence in April of that year left 18 people dead and tens of thousands of people displaced. Both sides agreed to withdraw troops from the disputed area in December 2011.
The territory has been a point of contention for over a century.
In 1962, the court concluded that Thailand had accepted the Annex I map, which defines the monastery territory. 
"Even if there were any doubt in this connection, Thailand was not precluded from asserting that she had not accepted it since France and Cambodia had relied upon her acceptance and she had for fifty years enjoyed such benefits as the Treaty of 1904 has conferred on her. Furthermore, the acceptance of the Annex I map caused it to enter the treaty settlement; the Parties had at that time adopted an interpretation of that settlement which caused the map line to prevail over the provisions of the Treaty and, as there was no reason to think that the Parties had attached any special importance to the line of the watershed as such, as compared with the overriding importance of a final regulation of their own frontiers, the Court considered that the interpretation to be given now would be the same.
"The court therefore felt bound to pronounce in favour of the frontier indicated on the Annex I map in the disputed area and it became unnecessary to consider whether the line as mapped did in fact correspond to the true watershed line. For these reasons, the Court upheld the submissions of Cambodia concerning sovereignty over Preah Vihear."

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