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A Briefing Note on the Cambodian-Thai Border Tensions
About the Cambodian Center for Human Rights The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (“CCHR”) is a leading non-aligned, independent, nongovernmental organization that works to promote and protect democracy and respect for human rights – primarily civil and political rights – throughout the Kingdom of Cambodia (“Cambodia”). CCHR is well-known for its success in empowering communities and for its strong and principled voice for human rights. CCHR’s vision is of a non-violent Cambodia in which people enjoy their fundamental human rights, are treated equally, are empowered to participate in democracy, and share the benefits of Cambodia’s development. CCHR desires the rule of law rather than rule by law; strong institutions rather than strong men; and a society in which diversity is harnessed rather than punished. The CCHR logo – a white dove flying in a circle of blue sky – symbolizes Cambodia’s bid for freedom. In order to promote and protect democracy and human rights, CCHR empowers society to claim its rights and drive change; and, through detailed research and analysis, CCHR develops innovative policy and advocates for its implementation. Accordingly, the elements of empowerment and policy development are core to all CCHR initiatives. Queries and feedback Should you have any questions, comments, suggestions or feedback in relation to this Briefing Note, or if you should require any further information about this Briefing Note or the subject in general, please contact Ou Virak (telephone: +855 (0) 1240 4051 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) or Robert Finch (telephone: +855 (0) 7880 9960 or e-mail: email@example.com).
© 2011 Cambodian Center for Human Rights #798, Street 99, Boeung Trabek, Khan Chamkamorn, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia
Executive summary ......................................................................................................4 Location of Preah Vihear and other disputed areas..........................................6
Preah Vihear ............................................................................................................................................ 6 Expanding location of the dispute.......................................................................................................... 7
Historical overview ......................................................................................................8
Demarcating the border: 1904–1953 .................................................................................................... 9 ICJ proceedings: 1959-1962 ................................................................................................................. 10 Status and effect of the Map ..................................................................................................................... 10 The MOU 2000 ....................................................................................................................................... 12
Recent events............................................................................................................... 14
World Heritage status awarded in 2008 ............................................................................................. 14 Border clashes: 2008–2011.................................................................................................................. 14 Cambodia’s application to the ICJ: April and May 2011 ..................................................................... 15 Thailand’s decision to withdraw from the World Heritage Convention ........................................... 17
Conclusion .................................................................................................................... 17 Annex 1 – Map relied upon by the ICJ in its 1962 Judgment ........................ 18 Annex 2 – Summary of border clashes and political events since 2008 .. 19
Introduction As noted by the International Court of Justice (the “ICJ”) in 1962,1 the border conflict between Cambodia and Thailand – principally over the sovereignty of the temple at Preah Vihear (“Preah Vihear”)2 and the surrounding area, but also of other areas along the long border between the two countries – has its “fons et origo” in the boundary settlements made between 1904 and 1908 by both France (at that time conducting foreign relations on behalf of French Indochina) and Thailand (at the time known as “Siam”). For the purposes of clarity and for ease of reference, the name “Thailand” shall be used throughout this Briefing Note, including references to the country before its change of name. This Briefing Note provides an overview of the border dispute within a historical and political context, including discussion of the escalating border conflict since 2008, when Preah Vihear was inscribed on the list of World Heritage sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (“UNESCO”). The objective of this Briefing Note is not to lay the blame for clashes at the border at the door of any one party; rather it is to provide a basis for the public, the media and other interested parties to understand an issue that is often misunderstood and incorrectly characterized. Executive summary On 15 June 1962 the ICJ awarded sovereignty of Preah Vihear to Cambodia (the “ICJ Judgment”) in light of border treaty agreements entered into in 1904 and 1907, and Thailand’s subsequent behavior.3 It is often widely reported that the ICJ Judgment concluded decisively on the sovereignty of Preah Vihear but not on the immediate surrounding area.4 However, the truth of the matter is that the ICJ awarded sovereignty of Preah Vihear to Cambodia based on the historical demarcation of the Cambodia-Thai border, in other words the ICJ did in fact draw upon the official demarcation of the frontier when considering where Preah Vihear was located.5 It appears that the boundary between the countries was accepted to be that established by the maps created between 1904 and 1908.6 However, the ICJ judgment has not been accepted by Thailand.7
Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand) , ICJ, available: http://www.icjcij.org/docket/index.php?sum=284&code=ct&p1=3&p2=3&case=45&k=46&p3=5. 2 Known in Thailand as “Prasat Phra Viharn” or “Prasat Khao Phra Viharn”. 3 Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand) , ICJ, available: http://www.icjcij.org/docket/index.php?sum=284&code=ct&p1=3&p2=3&case=45&k=46&p3=5. 4 Panchali Saikia, ‘The Thai-Cambodian Border Dispute: From Friction to Fire’ Mainstream, 25 June 2011, available: http://www.mainstreamweekly.net/article2840.html. 5 Kantathi Suphamongkhon, ‘The Temple of Preah Vihear: An Insider’s Recollection’, Business Report Thailand, 29 April 2011 available: http://www.businessreportthailand.com/preah-vihear-kantathi-suphamongkon12484. 6 Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand) , ICJ, available: http://www.icjcij.org/docket/index.php?sum=284&code=ct&p1=3&p2=3&case=45&k=46&p3=5. 7 ‘Thai-Cambodia Conflict does not end at border’, The Epoch Times, 13 May 2011, available: http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/world/thai-cambodia-conflict-does-not-end-at-the-border-56260.html.
Since October 2008, following the inscription of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage site, a conflict along the Cambodian-Thai border has ignited – and escalated since the beginning of 2011 – resulting in the fatalities and casualties of several soldiers and civilians and the displacement of tens of thousands of civilians on both sides of the border.8 While Preah Vihear is the most prominent symbol of the Cambodian-Thai border dispute, it is clear that the area of conflict is considerably wider: in light of Thailand’s objections to Cambodia’s awarded sovereignty of Preah Vihear, the scattered areas of conflict and the political discussions to date between Cambodia and Thailand, all areas along the shared border running through the Dângrêk Mountains are seemingly under dispute.9 Furthermore, the ICJ Judgment only rules upon Preah Vihear;10 the issue, however, relates to an extended stretch of the border, over which there has been no judgment by the ICJ. The conflict surrounding the Preah Vihear is currently being considered at an international level. In April 2011 it was reported that the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO was scheduled to hold a meeting in Bahrain in June 2011 relating to the management and conservation of Preah Vihear.11 On 28 April 2011 Cambodia applied to the ICJ to request interpretation of the ICJ Judgment.12 Cambodia’s application was accompanied by an urgent request for the indication of provisional measures, namely injunctive relief.13 The ICJ heard oral submissions from both Cambodia and Thailand on 30 and 31 May 2011,14 and the ICJ’s decision will be announced on 18 July 2011.15 However, while such measures may be useful in relation to Preah Vihear itself, they are unlikely to resolve the broader territorial issue or the political motivations that lie behind the border dispute. To ensure the safety, protection and well-being of Cambodian and Thai civilians, border
Stephen Kurczy, ‘Caught in the Thailand-Cambodia Crossfire: Preah Vihear Temple’, The Christian Science Monitor, 8 February 2011, available: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-Pacific/2011/0208/Caught-inthe-Thailand-Cambodia-crossfire-Preah-Vihear-temple. 9 The disputed areas fall in or border the Cambodian provinces of Preah Vihear, Oddar Meanchey and Banteay Meanchey. 10 Panchali Saikia, ‘The Thai-Cambodian Border Dispute: From Friction to Fire’, Mainstream, 25 June 2011, http://www.mainstreamweekly.net/article2840.html. 11 Cheang Sokha, ‘Positive move for border talks’, The Phnom Penh Post, 20 April 2011 (not available online). 12 Cambodia files an Application requesting interpretation of the Judgment rendered by the Court on 15 June 1962 in the case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand) and also asks for the urgent indication of provisional measures, ICJ Press Release 2011/14, 2 May 2011, available: http://www.icjcij.org/docket/files/151/16480.pdf. 13 Request for Interpretation of the Judgment of 15 June 1962 in the Case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand) (Cambodia v. Thailand) (Request for the indication of provisional measures: The Court to hold public hearings on Monday 30 and Tuesday 31 May 2011), ICJ Press Release 2011/18, 19 May 2011, available: http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/151/16516.pdf. 14 Request for Interpretation of the Judgment of 15 June 1962 in the Case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand) (Cambodia v. Thailand) (Conclusion of the public hearings on Cambodia’s Request for the indication of provisional measures), ICJ Press Release 2011/19, 31 May 2011, available: http://www.icjcij.org/docket/files/151/16536.pdf. 15 Request for Interpretation of the Judgment of 15 June 1962 in the Case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand) (Cambodia v. Thailand) (Request for the indication of provisional measures – The Court to deliver its Order on Monday 18 July 2011 at 10 a.m.), ICJ Press Release 2011/20, 17 July 2011, available: http://www.icjcij.org/presscom/index.php?pr=2358&pt=1&p1=6&p2=1&PHPSESSID=bc917fcb243800e4c59367f1a68745 75.
demarcation must be finally determined and resolved by the two countries, a process that ought to be assisted by independent third party adjudication or mediation. To date, independent adjudicators have been reluctant to rely upon the “Memorandum of Understanding” entered into by Cambodia and Thailand in 2000 (the “MOU 2000”).16 This bilateral agreement provided a key framework for resolving the disputed border areas and establishing the Thai-Cambodian Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (the “Joint Commission”), due to meet annually and responsible for demarcating the boundary and producing maps of the surveyed and demarcated boundary.17 However, despite the fact that the Joint Commission has now been established for over a decade, there is limited information to date about its workings and decisions, and it does not appear that it has begun – let alone finished – surveying and finalizing border boundaries.18 To date, there have been difficulties in even arranging Joint Commission meetings given the requirement of the Thai Parliament to approve the minutes of previous meetings (as discussed below).19 Furthermore, the recent border clashes began eight years after its establishment and have been becoming more frequent with greater devastation since 2008 (as summarized below).20 It is therefore evident that the Joint Commission alone is unlikely to be able to resolve this issue, especially given that factions within both countries are accused of using the border clashes to rally domestic political support.21 As such, it is imperative that third party independent players – either international or regional – assist Cambodia and Thailand in reaching a final resolution to the border conflict, so as to end the current bloodshed and displacement of civilians. Location of Preah Vihear and other disputed areas Preah Vihear Preah Vihear is a Khmer Hindu temple, dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva, situated atop a 525meter cliff in the Dângrêk Mountains.22 It is located in Svay Chrum village, Kan Tout commune, in Choam Khsant district of Preah Vihear province of Cambodia.23 Preah Vihear, which extends over an 800-meter-long north-to-south axis, is composed of a series of sanctuaries linked by a system of pavements and staircases.24 While it was mainly built during the 11th and 12th centuries AD over a
Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand on the Survey and Demarcation of Land Boundary (2000), available: http://sokheounpang.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/mou-2000-eng.pdf. 17 Ibid. 18 Thanida Tansubhapol, ‘Thai-Cambodian ties back on track’, Bangkok Post, 16 December 2010, available: http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/211512/thai-cambodian-ties-back-on-track-minus-thaksin. 19 Ibid. 20 ‘Story Line of Thai Khmer Preah Vihear Conflict’, Khmer News, 4 February 2011 available: http://mediakh.net/news/post/story-line-of-thai-khmer-preah-vihear-conflict/. 21 ‘Thai-Cambodian conflict – Temple trouble – Warning: old stone temples can start wars’, The Economist, 10 February 2011. 22 World Heritage Site, Preah Vihear Temple, available: http://www.worldheritagesite.org/sites/preahvihear.html. 23 ‘Preah Vihear’, TheAngkor.net, 18 May 2011, available: http://theangkor.net/preah-vihear. 24 World Heritage Convention, Temple of Preah Vihear, available: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1224.
succession of seven Khmer monarchs’ reigns, ending with Suryavarman II,25 Preah Vihear’s complex history can be traced back to the 9th century, when it was founded as a great hermitage center for meditation.26 In the eastern sector of the Dângrêk mountain range, in which Preah Vihear is situated, the frontier was supposed to follow the “watershed” line.27 A “watershed” line is geographical terminology for an area or ridge of high land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or seas.28 In this instance, the watershed line follows the Dângrêk mountain range.29 Expanding location of the dispute Relations between Cambodia and Thailand have deteriorated markedly, and border clashes have reignited since Preah Vihear was granted World Heritage status in July 2008.30 Media reports of the border dispute, and comments made by both countries in relation to the ownership of Preah Vihear and its immediate surrounds, suggest – falsely – that the conflict is confined to this specific issue and this specific area. However, as outlined in this Briefing Note, while Preah Vihear may be the most prominent symbol of the border dispute, areas of the border all along the Dângrêk Mountains, which straddle the divide between the two countries, are under dispute. Since 2008 the conflict has extended to the area between Phanom Dong Rak district of Surin province Thailand, and the Banteay Ampil district of Oddar Meanchey province, Cambodia.31 This area includes the 13th century Ta Moan and Ta Krabey Hindu temple complexes,32 which are located around 150km west of Preah Vihear and about 15km apart. All three temples are marked on the map below.33 The fighting has been concentrated at the three temples – and the jungle of the Dângrêk Mountains surrounding them.
World Heritage Site, Preah Vihear Temple, available: http://www.worldheritagesite.org/sites/preahvihear.html. 26 World Heritage Convention, Temple of Preah Vihear, available: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1224. 27 Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand) , ICJ, available: http://www.icjcij.org/docket/index.php?sum=284&code=ct&p1=3&p2=3&case=45&k=46&p3=5. 28 Oxford dictionaries online, available: http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/watershed. 29 Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand) , ICJ, available: http://www.icjcij.org/docket/index.php?sum=284&code=ct&p1=3&p2=3&case=45&k=46&p3=5. 30 ‘Story Line of Thai Khmer Preah Vihear Conflict’, Khmer News, 4 February 2011 available: http://mediakh.net/news/post/story-line-of-thai-khmer-preah-vihear-conflict/. 31 ‘Cambodian, Thai troops exchange gunfire at border area for 4 th day’, Xinhua Ne, 25 April 2011, available: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2011-04/25/c_13845089.htm. 32 Known in Thailand as Prasat Ta Kwai and Prasat Ta Muen, respectively. 33 Thailand-Cambodia Border Dispute Areas, European Commission .
Historical overview In the ICJ Judgment,34 the ICJ noted that the sovereignty of Preah Vihear depended on a 1904 boundary treaty (discussed below) and subsequent events, and therefore did not consider the situation between the parties prior to that date. This Briefing Note therefore concentrates upon the demarcation of the border since 1904 and subsequent socio-political events. It focuses upon the following specific periods of history in relation to the Cambodian-Thai border dispute and claims of sovereignty from both countries over Preah Vihear: Demarcating the border: 1904–1953 ICJ Proceedings: 1959–1962 Memorandum of Understanding: 2000 World Heritage Status: 2008 Border Clashes: April 2008–present
Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand) , ICJ, available: http://www.icjcij.org/docket/index.php?sum=284&code=ct&p1=3&p2=3&case=45&k=46&p3=5.
Demarcating the border: 1904–195335 France exercised its protectorate over Cambodia during the period 1863–1953. During this time France negotiated with Thailand for a definitive border demarcation between Thailand and French Indochina (at whose western border sits Cambodia). Below is a summary of the historical overview of the demarcation of the frontier from 1904, involving between France and Thailand: Treaty on 13 February 1904 (the “1904 Treaty”) – established the general character of the frontier. Article 3 of the 1904 Treaty stated that the demarcation would be carried out by a Franco-Thai mixed commission (the “First Mixed Commission”), which was created pursuant to the 1904 Treaty. 2 December 1906 – at a meeting held between France and Thailand, it was agreed that, for the purposes of demarcating the frontier, the First Mixed Commission should travel along the Dângrêk mountain range carrying out all the necessary reconnaissance, and that a survey officer of the French deputation of the First Mixed Commission should survey the whole of the eastern part of the range. The presidents of the French and Thai deputations of the First Mixed Commission made this journey, which included visiting Preah Vihear. January and February 1907 – the president of the French deputation reported to the French Government that the frontier had been definitively established. However, while it is appears that a frontier was surveyed and decided upon, there is no actual record of any decision and no reference to the Dângrêk region in any minutes of the meetings of the First Mixed Commission after 2 December 1906. Treaty on 23 March 1907 (the “1907 Treaty”) – established a further Franco-Thai boundary. Thai-held Battambang, Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchey and Oddar Meancheay provinces (the “Provinces”) were returned to France in exchange for Thailand’s regaining sovereignty of Trat province and the Amphoe Dan Saj area of Loei province. Various districts in the western Dângrêk area, previously in Thailand, became a frontier region, and a second mixed commission (the “Second Mixed Commission”) was established to demarcate the frontier in this region. 1907-08 – the final stage of the demarcation was the preparation of maps on the Thai Government’s request that French officers map the frontier region. These maps were completed in the autumn of 1907 by a team of French officers, some of whom had been members of the First Mixed Commission. Among the eleven maps was a map of the Dângrêk range (the “Map”) showing Preah Vihear to be on the Cambodian side. An annotated copy of the Map is annexed to this Briefing Note at Annex 1. December 1940 – during World War II, Thailand took advantage of France’s surrender to Germany in 1940 to regain control of the Provinces, lost pursuant to the 1907 Treaty, in addition to provinces in Laos. This invasion marked the start of the Franco-Thai War. 28 January 1941 – a general armistice was declared in relation to the Franco-Thai War. 9 May 1941 – a peace treaty was signed by France and Thailand.
1953-54 – upon Cambodian independence, the French withdrew from Cambodia and, following this withdrawal in 1954, Thailand occupied Preah Vihear. 6 October 1959 – newly-independent Cambodia then commenced proceedings at the ICJ regarding the sovereignty of Preah Vihear (the “ICJ Proceedings”). The ICJ Judgment dismissed Thailand’s objections and declared itself to have jurisdiction to adjudicate on the dispute. The ICJ Judgment is discussed in more detail below.
ICJ proceedings: 1959-1962 Cambodia principally relied on the Map to support its claim of sovereignty over Preah Vihear.36 The ICJ found in favor of Cambodia, issuing the ICJ Judgment on 15 June 1962.37 Given that Preah Vihear itself was not referred to in either the 1904 Treaty or the 1907 Treaty, the ICJ Judgment – in relation to Preah Vihear – had to be based solely upon an examination of the frontier line that was assessed between 1904 and 1908.38 The ICJ Judgment declared that:39 by nine votes to three, Preah Vihear was situated in territory under the sovereignty of Cambodia and, therefore, Thailand was under an obligation to withdraw any military or police forces, or other guards or keepers, stationed at Preah Vihear, or in its vicinity on Cambodian territory; and by seven votes to five, Thailand was under an obligation to restore to Cambodia any sculptures, stele, fragments of monuments, sandstone model and ancient pottery which might have been removed from Preah Vihear or the Preah Vihear area by the Thai authorities since the occupation of Preah Vihear by Thailand in 1954.
Thailand contested the ICJ Judgment and reserved the right to request a revision of the ruling as allowed by Article 61 of the Statute of the Court within ten years of the ruling;40 however, perhaps surprisingly, an official application for revision was not submitted by Thailand within this period.41 Status and effect of the Map42 In the ICJ Proceedings, Thailand’s position was that: the Map was not the work of either the First Mixed Commission or the Second Mixed Commission; it had no binding character; and the frontier indicated was not the true watershed line – which would have placed Preah Vihear in Thailand. Thailand also argued that the Map had never been accepted by Thailand or, alternatively, that if Thailand had accepted it, it had done so only because of a mistaken belief that the frontier indicated corresponded with the watershed line.
The Royal Embassy of Cambodia to Australia and New Zealand, ‘Aide Memoire on the Situation in the Area of Preah Vihear Temple at the border between Cambodia and Thailand’, 7 July 2008, available http://www.embassyofcambodia.org.nz/july2008/july2008-1.htm. 37 Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand) , ICJ, available: http://www.icjcij.org/docket/index.php?sum=284&code=ct&p1=3&p2=3&case=45&k=46&p3=5. 38 Ibid. 39 Ibid. 40 Sri Dao-nuea, ‘Whose Preah Vihear Temple is it, and what does it matter anyway?’, Prachatai, 1 July 2008, available: http://www.prachatai.com/english/node/690. 41 Ibid. 42 Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand) , ICJ, available: http://www.icjcij.org/docket/index.php?sum=284&code=ct&p1=3&p2=3&case=45&k=46&p3=5.
In relation to the Map, the position concluded by the ICJ was that: the Map was completed by a team of French officers, some of whom had been members of the First Mixed Commission; the Map was never formally approved by the First Mixed Commission or the Second Mixed Commission, which had both ceased to function some months before the Map’s production; and while there could be no reasonable doubt that the Map was based on the work of the surveying officers in the Dângrêk sector, in its inception it had no binding character.
However, in light of the historical context detailed below, the ICJ upheld Cambodia’s submissions concerning sovereignty over Preah Vihear, declaring that it felt bound to pronounce in accordance with the frontier as indicated on the Map. The ICJ Judgment was also based upon Thailand’s subsequent behavior, namely its apparent acceptance of the Map and the subsequent reliance upon such acceptance by both France and Cambodia when the 1907 Treaty was entered into. Furthermore, Thailand had enjoyed the benefits that the 1904 Treaty had conferred for over fifty years. The ICJ held that given that the Thai authorities had accepted the Map without investigation at the time, Thailand could not now plead any error negating their original acceptance. The ICJ highlighted the following events as evidence of Thailand’s acceptance of the Map, or, at the very least, its lack of objection to it: Eleven maps, including the Map, were communicated to Thai offices or bodies, including: o the Thai Government – which had raised no query about the Map prior to its negotiations with Cambodia in Bangkok in 1958, nor reacted either at the time that the Map was circulated or for many years afterwards; o members of the First Mixed Commission and the Second Mixed Commission – who did not disagree; o the Minister of the Interior, Prince Damrong – who thanked the French Minister for the work when they were together in Bangkok; and o provincial governors – some of whom knew of Preah Vihear. In 1930, when Prince Damrong visited Preah Vihear and was officially received there by the French Resident for the adjoining Cambodian province, Thailand failed to react. While a 1934-1935 survey had established a divergence between the line as marked on the Map and the watershed line, and other maps had been produced showing Preah Vihear to be in Thailand, Thailand had nevertheless continued to use and publish maps showing Preah Vihear to be in Cambodia. In the course of the negotiations for the 1925 and 1937 Franco-Thai treaties, which confirmed the existing frontiers, and in 1947 in Washington before the Franco-Siamese Conciliation Commission (the “FSCC”), Thailand did not raise any objections. Furthermore, the ICJ found that, on 12 May 1947, Thailand filed with the FSCC a map showing Preah Vihear as being in Cambodia.
In the ICJ Proceedings, Thailand argued that having been, at all material times, in possession of Preah Vihear, it had no need to raise the matter. However, the ICJ said that it found it difficult to 11
regard any acts by local authorities as “negativing the consistent attitude of the central authorities”. As such, it was a natural inference that Thailand had accepted the frontier at Preah Vihear as it was drawn on the Map, irrespective of its correspondence to the “true” watershed line. The ICJ concluded that the parties had not attached any special importance to the watershed line at the time, as compared with the overriding importance of a definitive demarcation of the frontier. Given this fact, the ICJ felt it unnecessary to consider whether the frontier as mapped did, in fact, correspond to the “true” watershed line. In light of the ICJ’s conclusion in relation to the Map, the ICJ held that Preah Vihear was on Cambodian territory and under Cambodian sovereignty. From 1962 onwards Preah Vihear was open to the public until it was occupied by the Khmer Rouge in 1975. Throughout the civil war that followed the 1979 ousting of the Khmer Rouge from power, whereby a coalition of nationalist rebels – including the Khmer Rouge – fought a protracted guerrilla war against the Vietnamese-backed Cambodian Government, Preah Vihear was caught up in much of the fighting due to its location on the porous Cambodian-Thai border, which Khmer Rouge leaders and cadres used as their escape route whenever Vietnamese or Government forces came too close. The area remained out of bounds for a total of almost two decades, as a result of its inaccessibility on the Cambodian side and the fact that it was heavily mined during the civil war. In 1998 Preah Vihear re-opened on the Thai side, and, in 2003, Cambodia completed the construction of an access road allowing Cambodians to visit Preah Vihear. The MOU 2000 Various agreements and memoranda of understanding, on a range of different topics, have been entered into by Cambodia and Thailand since 1991.43 In honor of the 50th anniversary of Cambodia-Thailand diplomatic relations, the countries entered into the MOU 2000, which provides a key framework for resolving the disputed border areas.44 The MOU 2000 referred to the following:45 a joint communiqué of the Prime Ministers of Cambodia and Thailand, dated 13 January 1994, in which it was agreed to establish the Joint Commission in due course (the “Joint Communiqué”); a joint statement on the establishment of the Joint Commission, dated 21 June 1997; and maps which are the results of demarcation work of the First Mixed Commission and the Second Mixed Commission established under the 1904 Treaty and the 1907 Treaty.
The MOU 2000 established the Joint Commission, whose remit, pursuant to Article II, was to:46
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Information Bulletin, Vol. 30 , available: http://www.embassy.org/cambodia/press/122000.pdf. 44 Ibid. 45 Memorandum of understanding between the Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand on the Survey and Demarcation of Land Boundary , available: http://sokheounpang.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/mou-2000-eng.pdf.
be responsible for the joint survey and demarcation of land boundary in accordance with Article I of the MOU 2000; consider and approve the terms of reference and master plan for the joint survey and demarcation; determine the priority of areas to be surveyed and demarcated; assign the survey and demarcation works to the “Joint Technical Sub-Commission”, as referred to in Article III of the MOU 2000 to supervise and monitor the implementation of the assignment; consider reports or recommendations submitted by the Joint Technical Sub-Commission; produce maps of the surveyed and demarcated land boundary; and appoint any sub-commission to undertake any particular task within its competence.
Pursuant to Article II of the MOU 2000, the Joint Commission was to meet annually; the two countries would take turns to host these meetings, and either could call “special meetings” to discuss urgent matters. Since 2008 the Joint Commission has met in November 2008, February 2009 and April 2009.47 A subsequent meeting, which was to report on progress with regard to the Joint Commission’s survey and demarcation of areas adjacent to Preah Vihear, was unable to be convened, since Thai parliamentary approval of the minutes of the three previous meetings was required.48 However, in April 2011 the Thai Government announced that parliamentary approval would no longer be required for border demarcation agreements with Cambodia.49 The effect of this decision is that parliamentary approval is no longer required for agreements made by the Joint Commission in 2008 and 2009.50 At the 18th ASEAN summit, on 7 May 2011, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva confirmed that these legal issues in relation to the approval of minutes had been resolved.51 Thailand’s Constitutional Court had ruled on the agreed minutes of previous meetings of the Joint Commission, such that they did not need the approval of the Thai Parliament.52 The announcement also referred to the ongoing workings of the Joint Commission, which was said to have met in April 2011.
Norbert Klein, ‘Memorandum on Cambodian-Thai border issues’, The Mirror, 24 January 2011, available: http://www.cambodiamirror.org/2011/01/24/memorandum-on-cambodian-thai-border-issues-monday24-1-2011/. 47 ‘Thailand postpones vote on border documents’, China Daily, 29 March 2011, available: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2011-03/29/content_12244699.htm. 48 Jamaluddin Muhammad, ‘Bangkok pleased with meeting outcome’, My Sinchew, 23 February 2011, available: http://www.mysinchew.com/node/53668?tid=37; US-Asean Business Council Inc., ‘Positive moves for border talks’, 20 April 2011, available: http://usasean.org/cambodia/updates/2011/April18.htm. 49 Ibid. 50 Ibid; Cheang Sokha, ‘Positive move for border talks’, The Phnom Penh Post, 20 April 2011 (not available online). 51 Abhisit Vejjajiva, ‘Intervention of H.E. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of the Kingdom of Thailand responding on the Thailand-Cambodian issue at the Plenary Session of the 18th ASEAN Summit, 7 May 2011’, 7 May 2011, available: http://media.thaigov.go.th/pageconfig/viewcontent/viewcontent1e.asp?pageid=472&directory=1942&conte nts=57300. 52 Ibid.
Recent events World Heritage status awarded in 2008 In 2007 Cambodia announced its intention to apply for World Heritage status by UNESCO.53 Thailand responded by protesting that it should be a joint effort, and UNESCO deferred debate at its 2007 meeting.54 Thailand said that it was not opposed in principle to Cambodia’s application to register Preah Vihear, but stressed that it must not affect the disputed borderline.55 Both Cambodia and Thailand were in full agreement that Preah Vihear had “outstanding universal value” and should be inscribed on the “World Heritage List”.56 Furthermore, both countries agreed that Cambodia should propose the site for formal inscription on the World Heritage List – with the active support of Thailand – at the 32nd session of the World Heritage Committee (the “Committee”) in 2008.57 However, the opposition parties in Thailand attacked Thailand’s support. Caving in to political pressure, the Thai government withdrew its formal support for the listing of Preah Vihear;58 nevertheless, Cambodia proceeded with a unilateral application for World Heritage status, despite protests from Thai officials. On 7 July 2008 the Committee inscribed Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List, despite official protests from Thailand.59 UNESCO noted: “[t]he site is particularly well preserved, mainly due to its remote location. It is exceptional for the quality of its architecture, which is adapted to the natural environment and the religious function of the Temple, as well as for the exceptional quality of its carved stone ornamentation”.60 Border clashes: 2008–2011 Since October 2008 border clashes have escalated between Cambodia and Thailand – a continuous cycle of violence whereby ceasefires last only until the next bout of fighting erupts. There was sustained fighting at and around Preah Vihear for several days in February 2011, which resulted in casualties and large displacements of villagers on both sides, as well as damage to the temple itself.61 Most recently, hostilities resumed on 22 April 2011 around the Ta Moan and Ta Krabey temple complexes, around 150km west of Preah Vihear and about 15km apart, and lasted for
‘Preah Vihear Temple’, Cambodia Tour Services (2010), available: http://www.cambodiatourservices.com/attraction_detail.php?id=45. 54 Preah-Vihear.com, ‘Prasat Preah Vihear Temple’, available: http://www.preahvihear.com/AboutPrasatPreahVihear.htm. 55 ‘Thailand, Cambodia and UNESCO meet over Preah Vihear’, The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog, 25 April 2008, available: http://www.southeastasianarchaeology.com/2008/04/25/thailand-cambodia-andunesco-meet-over-preah-vihear/. 56 UNESCO, ‘Decision - 31COM 8B.24 - Nomination of natural, mixed and cultural properties to the world heritage list - the Temple of Preah Vihear’, 23 June-2 July 2007, available: http://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/1322. 57 Ibid. 58 UNESCO World Heritage Site, Preah Vihear, Cambodia, available: http://www.unescoworldheritagesites.com/preah-vihear_cambodia.htm. 59 World Heritage Convention, Temple of Preah Vihear, available: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1224. 60 Ibid. 61 BBC News, ‘Thai-Cambodia clashes “damage Preah Vihear temple”’, 6 February 2011, available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12377626.
several days until yet another ceasefire.62 It has been reported that, so far this year, the conflict has caused 29 military fatalities and displaced as many as 85,000 civilians on either side of the border.63 Annexed to this Briefing Note at Annex 2 is a table summarizing the periods of border conflicts and accusations made by Cambodia and Thailand since 2008 (the “Table”). In the absence of independent observers, it has proven impossible to determine the truth behind the accounts and accusations submitted by both sides. For instance, in February 2011, it was reported that the Thai Government was investigating reports that 64 Cambodian soldiers had been killed – in contrast to earlier governmental reports that one Thai villager and one Cambodian soldier had been killed.64 In particular, it is difficult to know: which country is responsible for the continual violation of ceasefires; the exact number of fatalities; and the validity of the accusations made by Cambodia and Thailand against the other in relation to the types of weaponry and warfare tactics used.
It is arguable that the mutual finger-pointing merely serves to disguise the fact that both Cambodia and Thailand are attempting to prioritize internal political gains above the safety and welfare of their citizens.65 Furthermore, it is not clear how the Pheu Thai victory in the 3 July 2011 elections will affect the ongoing dispute. Cambodia’s application to the ICJ: April and May 2011 On 28 April 2011 Cambodia filed an application with the ICJ requesting an interpretation of the ICJ Judgment and the urgent indication of provisional measures (the “Application”).66 In the Application, Cambodia requested an interpretation from the ICJ67 – in relation to the meaning and
BBC News, ‘Thailand and Cambodia resume fighting along border’, 25 April 2011, available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-13186843. 63 Ou Virak, ‘ASEAN adrift in Thai-Cambodian conflict’, Asia Times online, 7 May 2011, available: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/ME07Ae01.html. 64 Wassana Nanuam, ‘Government probe claim 64 killed’, Bangkok Post, 6 February 2011, available: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/security/220077/govt-probes-claim-64-killed. 65 Thanyarat Doksone, ‘Clashes along Thai-Cambodia border spread east’, Yahoo News, 26 April 2011, available: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110426/ap_on_re_as/as_thailand_cambodia_clash; Milton Osborne, ‘Preah Vihear: the Thai-Cambodia Temple dispute’, Open Democracy, 8 February 2011, available: http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/preah-vihear-the-thai-cambodia-Temple-dispute; Ou Virak, ‘ASEAN adrift in Thai-Cambodian conflict’, Asia Times online, 7 May 2011, available: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/ME07Ae01.html; ‘Thai-Cambodian conflict – Temple trouble – Warning: old stone temples can start wars’, The Economist, 10 February 2011. 66 Cambodia files an Application requesting interpretation of the Judgment rendered by the Court on 15 June 1962 in the case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand) and also asks for the urgent indication of provisional measures, ICJ Press Release 2011/14, 2 May 2011, available: http://www.icjcij.org/docket/files/151/16480.pdf. 67 Ibid – Pursuant to Article 60 of the Statute of the Court: “In the event of dispute as to the meaning or scope of the judgment, the Court shall construe it upon the request of any party”).
scope of the ICJ Judgment – to be binding on both Cambodia and Thailand and to serve as a basis for a final resolution to the conflict. The Application covered the following points:68 according to Cambodia, the ICJ Judgment was based on the prior existence of an international boundary established and recognized by both countries; according to Cambodia, that boundary was defined by the Map, which enabled the ICJ to find that Cambodia’s sovereignty over Preah Vihear was a direct and automatic consequence of its sovereignty over the territory on which Preah Vihear was situated; and according to the ICJ Judgment, Thailand was under an obligation to withdraw any military or other personnel from the vicinity of Preah Vihear and from all Cambodian territory, which Cambodia believed was a general and continuing obligation derived from previous ICJ recognition of Cambodia’s territorial sovereignty over Preah Vihear.
The Application was accompanied by an urgent request for the indication of provisional measures, namely injunctive relief.69 The injunctive measures sought by Cambodia, pending the delivery of the ICJ’s judgment on its Application, included:70 an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all Thai forces from those parts of Cambodian territory situated in the area of Preah Vihear; a ban on all military activity by Thailand in the area of Preah Vihear; and a ban on any act or action by Thailand which would either interfere with the rights of Cambodia or its citizens or aggravate the ongoing dispute.
The ICJ heard oral submissions from both Cambodia and Thailand on 30 and 31 May 2011,71 and the ICJ’s decision is due on 18 July 2011.72 However, while the Application may bring some clarity to the ICJ Judgment, its scope may not be broad enough to deal effectively with the full extent of the current border dispute between Cambodia and Thailand and the undercurrents of nationalism on both sides.
Ibid. Request for Interpretation of the Judgment of 15 June 1962 in the Case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand) (Cambodia v. Thailand) (Request for the indication of provisional measures: The Court to hold public hearings on Monday 30 and Tuesday 31 May 2011), ICJ Press Release 2011/18, 19 May 2011, available: http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/151/16516.pdf. 70 Ibid. 71 Request for Interpretation of the Judgment of 15 June 1962 in the Case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand) (Cambodia v. Thailand) (Conclusion of the public hearings on Cambodia’s Request for the indication of provisional measures), ICJ Press Release 2011/19, 31 May 2011, available: http://www.icjcij.org/docket/files/151/16536.pdf. 72 Request for Interpretation of the Judgment of 15 June 1962 in the Case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand) (Cambodia v. Thailand) (Request for the indication of provisional measures – The Court to deliver its Order on Monday 18 July 2011 at 10 a.m.), ICJ Press Release 2011/20, 17 July 2011, available: http://www.icjcij.org/presscom/index.php?pr=2358&pt=1&p1=6&p2=1&PHPSESSID=bc917fcb243800e4c59367f1a68745 75.
Thailand’s decision to withdraw from the World Heritage Convention On 25 June 2011 Thailand made a decision to withdraw from the World Heritage Convention in Paris, saying that consideration of a Cambodian plan to manage Preah Vihear would increase tensions.73 Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told reporters that it did not make sense for Cambodia to unilaterally offer a plan for managing Preah Vihear.74 The chief of its delegation there, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti, said that Thailand was withdrawing because the World Heritage Committee’s consideration of Cambodia's plan could threaten Thai sovereignty and territory.75 Thailand was part of the 21-member World Heritage Committee, from which it has also decided to withdraw.76 Conclusion As noted in the Introduction, the objective of this Briefing Note is not to lay the blame for the clashes at the border on either country; rather, it is to provide the public, the media and other interested parties with a basis to understand the tensions and conflict. As is clear from the content of this Briefing Note, the clashes at the border have affected a much larger area than is often appreciated in the public debate about this issue. While media articles tend to offer a stock line concerning the Cambodian-Thai dispute over ownership of Preah Vihear and the adjacent territory, the reality is that clashes have occurred all along the border from Preah Vihear to the Ta Moan temple complex in Cambodia’s Banteay Meanchey province, almost 160km away. A final and definitive resolution to these tensions requires concerted focus not just upon the ownership of Preah Vihear and the adjoining territory, but of all the disputed areas along the border: the entire Cambodian-Thai border needs to be definitively demarcated. The failure of the Joint Commission to reach any agreement with regard to the border and the disputed areas points to the need for third party international participation to resolve the issue. It is hoped that the recent change of government in Thailand represents a clean break from the past and a first step towards a partnership between the two countries that will put an end to the violance and resolve the border conflict once and for all.
‘Thai leader defends leaving UN heritage site body’, The Associated Press, 26 June 2011, available: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hmss0VXYAdjIi4H1JU40qj4wDow?docId=590f5ee8aa8c42439c2aacd8d94f0bb7. 74 Ibid. 75 Ibid. 76 Ibid.
Annex 1 – Map relied upon by the ICJ in its 1962 Judgment
Annex 2 – Summary of border clashes and political events since 2008 Date 19 January 2008 Border clash Political events since 2008 Thailand’s Samak Sundaravej formed a coalition government and became Prime Minister of Thailand after winning the general election held on 23 December 2007 (first election after the September 2006 coup by the Council for National Security).77 Thailand contested Cambodia’s attempt to register Preah Vihear as a UNESCO World Heritage Site without Thailand’s agreement.78 24 April 2008 Thailand alleged that Cambodia had It was announced that Cambodia and Thailand were to meet UNESCO in Paris to sent troops to the disputed area discuss the dispute over the registration of Preah Vihear. around Preah Vihear in violation of the MOU 2000.79 Thailand’s proposal to support Cambodia’s bid to list Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site with UNESCO was approved on 17 June 2008 by the Thai Samak Sundaravej cabinet under the late PM Samak (the “Resolution”).80 The Resolution was signed by Noppadon Pattama, the Thai Foreign Minister, and Sok An, the Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister, on June 18 2008.
17-18 June 2008
Deng Shasha, ‘Profile: Thailand’s 27th Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’, Xinhua, 15 December 2008, available: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-12/15/content_10507556.htm. 78 ‘Cambodia-Thai Border Dispute: 2008-2011’, Khmer Article, 3 May 2011, available: http://www.khmerarticle.com/2011/05/cambodianthai-borderdispute-timeliine.html. 79 Thanida Tansubhapol, ‘Talks called on Preah Vihear site’, Bangkok Post, 25 April 2008, available: http://www.southeastasianarchaeology.com/2008/04/25/thailand-cambodia-and-unesco-meet-over-preah-vihear/. 80 ‘Court orders revocation of Preah Vihear joint communiqué’, Bangkok Post, 30 December 2009, available: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/164036/court-orders-revocation-of-thai-cambodian-joint-communique.
Date 22 June 2008 24 June 2008
Political events since 2008 Cambodia closed the border crossing at Preah Vihear in response to Thai protests held at the border crossing.81 In Thailand, a group of 13 Thai individuals (including senators, academics and human rights activists) lodged a complaint with the Central Administrative Court to revoke the Resolution, alleging that it was not given parliamentary approval as required under Section 190 of Thailand’s 2007 constitution.82 One issue of concern was that the Joint Communiqué would affect border demarcation disputes in the area surrounding Preah Vihear.83 Thailand’s Central Administrative Court issued an injunction ordering the suspension of the Resolution (the Supreme Administrative Court later upheld the ruling).84 Visitors were able to visit Preah Vihear, accessing it from Thailand. Fees were levied under an arrangement between Cambodia and Thailand.85 Preah Vihear was inscribed on the World Heritage List. In Cambodia, thousands of residents marched through the streets of the capital, Phnom Penh, in celebration of the inscription of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site.86 Thailand’s Constitutional Court ruled that the Thai Government was wrong to sign
28 June 2008
Pre-July 2008 8 July 2008 8 July 2008
‘Storyline of Thai Khmer Preah Vihear Conflict’, Khmer News, 4 February 2011, available: http://mediakh.net/news/post/story-line-of-thai-khmerpreah-vihear-conflict/; see also: ‘Cambodia-Thai border dispute: 2008-2011’, Khmer Article, 3 May 2011, available: http://www.khmerarticle.com/2011/05/cambodianthai-border-dispute-timeliine.html. 82 Section 190 stipulates that treaties affecting the social and economic benefits of Thailand and integrity of Thai borders to be subject to parliamentary scrutiny – please see: ‘Thai court rules Thai-Cambodian communiqué in breach of charter’, MCOT English News, 8 July 2008, available: http://enews.mcot.net/view.php?id=5126. 83 ‘Court orders revocation of Preah Vihear joint communiqué’, Bangkok Post, 30 December 2009, available: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/164036/court-orders-revocation-of-thai-cambodian-joint-communique. 84 Ibid. 85 Simon Montlake, ‘Why Thai-Cambodian Temple dispute lingers’, The Christian Science Monitor, 22 July 2008, available: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-South-Central/2008/0722/p06s02-wosc.html. 86 ‘Story Line of Thai Khmer Preah Vihear Conflict’, Khmer News, 4 February 2011 available: http://mediakh.net/news/post/story-line-of-thai-khmerpreah-vihear-conflict/; ‘Cambodia-Thai border dispute: 2008-2011’, Khmer Article, 3 May 2011, available: http://www.khmerarticle.com/2011/05/cambodianthai-border-dispute-timeliine.html.
Date 15-19 July 2008
Border clash Cambodia alleged that Thai soldiers had crossed into the Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda vicinity located on Cambodian territory (approximately 300m from Preah Vihear).88 There was also an increase of Thai troops and protestors in the border region near Preah Vihear. On 19 July both governments increased the number of troops and weapons in the region ahead of a planned meeting on 21 July 2008.89
Political events since 2008 the Joint Communiqué with Cambodia without consulting Parliament.87 On 17 July 2008 Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen sent a letter to the Thai Prime Minister calling for the immediate withdrawal of Thai troops and protesters from the area around Preah Vihear.90 On 18 July 2008 Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej sent Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen a letter insisting that Thai troops were only deployed on Thai territory.91
21 July 2008 22 July 2008
Cambodian Defense Minister, Tea Ban, and Thai Supreme Military Commander, Boonsrang Niempradit, held talks in Thailand, which achieved no results.92 Cambodia wrote to UNESCO and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (“ASEAN”) to request mediation to end the week-long military stand-off with Thailand at the border area near Preah Vihear.93
A judgment of 8-1 held that the Joint Communiqué was an international treaty under the charter’s Article 190 and therefore needed parliamentary endorsement prior to any signing. Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama resigned on 10 July 2008. Please see: ‘Thai court rules Thai-Cambodian communiqué in breach of charter’, MCOT English News, 8 July 2008, available: http://enews.mcot.net/view.php?id=5126. 88 ‘Letter to the United Nations Security Council’, 18 July 2008, available: http://www.un.int/cambodia/Bulletin_Files/July08/Letter_18_Jul.pdf; http://mediakh.net/news/post/story-line-of-thai-khmer-preah-vihear-conflict. 89 ‘Story Line of Thai Khmer Preah Vihear Conflict’, Khmer News, 4 February 2011, available: http://mediakh.net/news/post/story-line-of-thai-khmerpreah-vihear-conflict/; ‘Cambodia-Thai border dispute: 2008-2011’, Khmer Article, 3 May 2011, available: http://www.khmerarticle.com/2011/05/cambodianthai-border-dispute-timeliine.html. 90 Ibid. 91 Ibid. 92 Ibid. 93 Mu Xuequan, ‘Cambodia seeks help from UN, ASEAN over military stalemate with Thailand’, China View, 22 July 2008, available: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-07/22/content_8750616.htm.
Date 27 July 2008 28 July 2008
Political events since 2008 Cambodian parliamentary elections took place. A bilateral meeting was held in Siem Reap. It was reported that both sides were in favor of a troop withdrawal, although the exact dates of such a withdrawal were not agreed upon or confirmed.94 Bun Rany, wife of the Cambodian Prime Minister, conducted a Buddhist ritual in Preah Vihear. That same night, the anti-Thai Government People’s Alliance for Democracy (“PAD”) led supporters in a rival ritual and prayed so as to guard against any negative effects that might result from the Cambodian ritual.95 Thai newspaper “Nation” published an editorial criticizing Cambodia for calling upon the international community to help resolve the Preah Vihear stand-off.96
1 August 2008
3 August 2008
Cambodia claimed that Thailand had occupied another Angkor-era temple complex, Ta Moan, at the CambodianThai border in Cambodia’s Oddar Meanchey Province. Thailand denied that there had been any increase in the number of troops in the area; however, the Thai army chief stated that Thai troops would remain in place and claimed sovereignty over the temple complex.97 On 7 August ASEAN reported that both Cambodia and Thailand had withdrawn their troops from the area
7 August 2008
‘Story Line of Thai Khmer Preah Vihear Conflict’, Khmer News, 4 February 2011, available: http://mediakh.net/news/post/story-line-of-thai-khmerpreah-vihear-conflict. 95 Ibid. 96 Ibid. 97 Ibid.
Border clash around the Ta Moan temple complex to their original bases.98 ASEAN reported that both countries’ militaries had agreed to reduce troop levels at Preah Vihear prior to a meeting between their Foreign Ministers on 18 August 2008.99
Political events since 2008
14 August 2008
18-19 August 2008 17 September 2008 Cambodia accused Thailand of sending troops to occupy the Ta Moan and Ta Krabey temple complexes. Thailand asserted sovereignty over both.101 Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen stated: “They [Thai soldiers] have invaded our territory at border areas, including areas near Preah Vihear Temple of Preah Vihear province, Ta Moane Toch Temple and Ta Moane Thom Temple in Oddar Meanchey province, Ta Krobey Temple and Chup Korki and Cham Ksan areas in Anlong
Cambodia and Thailand’s Foreign Ministers held a second meeting in Thailand to seek a peaceful solution to the 25-day stand-off over the area around Preah Vihear.100
Ibid. Ibid. 100 The Royal Embassy of Cambodia to Australia and New Zealand, ‘Resolution between Cambodia and Thailand’, 19 August 2008, available: http://www.embassyofcambodia.org.nz/august2008/august2008-7.htm. 101 ‘Story Line of Thai Khmer Preah Vihear Conflict’, Khmer News, 4 February 2011, available: http://mediakh.net/news/post/story-line-of-thai-khmerpreah-vihear-conflict/.
Border clash Veng district of Bantey Meanchey province.”102
Political events since 2008
17 September 2008 3-18 October 2008
Thailand’s Somchai Wongsawat is ratified by the Thai national assembly and becomes Prime Minister.103 Cambodian and Thai troops exchanged On 7 October 2008 PAD protesters rally against the Thai Parliament in an attempt fire over the disputed territory around to block sessions in which Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat is seeking Preah Vihear, leading to military approval of policies, leading to fatalities.107 casualties.104 Reported casualties: 6 October – two Thai solders wounded by landmines on Cambodian territory.105 15 October – three Cambodian soldiers dead, and two Cambodian and seven Thai soldiers wounded, one of whom died from his injuries a week later.106 On 13 October 2008 Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen issued an ultimatum to Thailand to withdraw its troops from the disputed border area around Preah Vihear by noon on 14 October 2008. Hun Sen said that Thai troops had advanced on a border area called Veal Intry (Eagle Field) in an attempt to occupy Cambodian land near Preah Vihear.108
‘Cambodia, Thailand do not have channel for talks of military deployment at border areas’, Xinhua, 17 September 2008, available: http://analystpheara.wordpress.com/tag/border-talks/. 103 Thailand-China Business Link, ‘Thailand Political Overview’, 2011, available: http://www.thailand-china.com/getdoc/ccba3d4b-6341-4c07-be485a8f4e7f4928/PoliticalAndLegal.aspx?lang=en-GB. 104 ‘Story Line of Thai Khmer Preah Vihear Conflict’, Khmer News, 4 February 2011, available: http://mediakh.net/news/post/story-line-of-thai-khmerpreah-vihear-conflict/. 105 Roger A. Lee, ‘Thailand Cambodia Border Dispute’, 28 April 2011, available: http://www.historyguy.com/thailand_cambodia_border_dispute.htm. 106 ‘Story Line of Thai Khmer Preah Vihear Conflict’, Khmer News, 4 February 2011, available: http://mediakh.net/news/post/story-line-of-thai-khmerpreah-vihear-conflict/; ‘Thai soldier injured in Cambodia border clash dies: doctor’, AFP, 20 October 2008, available: http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5j8angai7dk16kEtzqKM9a2CvodSg. 107 Des Ball, D. and Nicholas Farrelly, ‘Tear-gas grenades in Bangkok on 7 October 2008’, New Mandala, 7 October 2009, available: http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/newmandala/2009/10/07/tear-gas-grenades-in-bangkok-on-7-october-2008/. 108 ‘Cambodia-Thai border dispute: 2008-2011’, Khmer Article, 3 May 2011, available: http://www.khmerarticle.com/2011/05/cambodianthai-borderdispute-timeliine.html.
Date 10-11 November 2008 25 November-3 December 2008
Border clash The Joint Commission
Political events since 2008 met.109
PAD executed “Operation Hiroshima” – the seizure of Suvarnabhumi Airport.110 PAD leader Kasit Piromya reportedly gave a speech in which he said "I will use Hun Sen‘s blood to wash my feet," recalling the historic incident where King Naresuan of Siam did the same to King Lovek of Cambodia.111 The Joint Commission met in Phnom Penh.112 Fighting between Cambodian and Thai soldiers occurred, leading to fatalities. Cambodia alleged that Thai soldiers had crossed into Cambodian territory in the days leading up to this clash. Thailand denied that the soldiers were anywhere that they were not permitted to be.113 It was reported that Preah Vihear was damaged during the conflict.114
2-4 February 2009 2-3 April 2009
‘Thailand postpones vote on border documents’, China Daily, 29 March 2011, available: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/201103/29/content_12244699.htm. 110 Cambodian-Thai Border Dispute’, Khmer Article, 3 May 2011, available: http://www.khmerarticle.com/2011/05/cambodianthai-border-disputetimeliine.html. 111 ‘Preah Vihear Temple’, Cambodia Tour Services (2010), available: http://www.cambodiatourservices.com/attraction_detail.php?id=45. 112 ‘Thailand postpones vote on border documents’, China Daily, 29 March 2011, available: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/201103/29/content_12244699.htm. 113 ‘Story Line of Thai Khmer Preah Vihear Conflict’, Khmer News, 4 February 2011, available: http://mediakh.net/news/post/story-line-of-thai-khmerpreah-vihear-conflict/. 114 Sambath, T., ‘Preah Vihear damage significant’, The Phnom Penh Post, 8 April 2009 (not available online).
Border clash Reported casualties: 2 April – a Thai soldier wounded by a landmine while on Cambodian territory.115 3 April – three Thai soldiers and two Cambodian soldiers killed and another five Thai soldiers wounded.116
Political events since 2008
6-7 April 2009 5 November 2009
The Joint Commission met.117 Cambodian Prime Minister Hen Sen appointed Thaksin Shinawatra, the former Thai Prime Minister ousted in a coup in 2006 and convicted in absentia of abusing his power, as an economic adviser to Cambodia.118 The Thai Central Administrative Court ordered the revocation of the Resolution.119 Cambodian and Thai forces exchanged gunfire near Preah Vihear causing fatalities. Thailand alleged that Cambodia fired M79 grenades, automatic rifle and RPG (B-40) rockets at Thai soldiers and into Thai territory.120
30 December 2009 24-31 January 2010
‘Story Line of Thai Khmer Preah Vihear Conflict’, Khmer News, 4 February 2011, available: http://mediakh.net/news/post/story-line-of-thai-khmerpreah-vihear-conflict/. 116 Ibid. 117 ‘Thailand postpones vote on border documents’, China Daily, 29 March 2011, available: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/201103/29/content_12244699.htm. 118 Thaksin Shinawatra and Hun Sen, ‘A New Way to Annoy a Neighbor’, The Economist, 12 November 2009. 119 ‘Court orders revocation of Preah Vihear joint communiqué’, Bangkok Post, 30 December 2009, available: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/164036/court-orders-revocation-of-thai-cambodian-joint-communique. 120 ‘Story Line of Thai Khmer Preah Vihear Conflict’, Khmer News, 4 February 2011, available: http://mediakh.net/news/post/story-line-of-thai-khmerpreah-vihear-conflict/.
Border clash Reported casualties: 31 January – one Thai soldier killed.121 Cambodian and Thai soldiers opened fire on each other near Cambodia’s northwestern border (about 150 km west of Preah Vihear) in a clash which lasted for approximately 15 minutes. There were no reports of casualties in this incident.122 Cambodian and Thai troops exchanged gunfire, causing civilian and military fatalities near Preah Vihear. The area of conflict expanded to a distance of 10km from the initial conflict area – to Chongdon-awn, Phu Makhua mountain and the temple of Don Tuan (located 300 meters from the Cambodian-Thai border).123 Cambodia alleged that heavy shelling at Preah Vihear by Thai troops had caused part of the temple to collapse, while Thailand alleged that Cambodia had used Preah Vihear as a military base.124 Reported casualties:
Political events since 2008
16 April 2010
4-16 February 2011
Ibid. Ibid. 123 ‘Cambodia and Thailand border skirmishes continue’, Who’s Who, 7 February 2011, available: http://rapidsavr.com/cambodia-and-thailand-borderskirmishes-continue/. 124 Pierre-Antoine Donnet, ‘UN urges ‘permanent’ Thai-Cambodia ceasefire’, AFP, 15 February 2011, available: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/globalfilipino/world/02/15/11/un-urges-permanent-thai-cambodia-ceasefire.
Border clash 4 February – two Cambodian soldiers, one Cambodian civilian and one Thai civilian killed in the clashes (according to independent 125 sources); five Cambodian and eight Thai soldiers wounded, with five Thai soldiers detained by Cambodian soldiers.126 Initial unofficial reports claimed that 16 Thai soldiers were killed, 26 wounded and four captured, while official reports claimed that nine Thai soldiers were killed.127 5 February – one Thai soldier killed and four Thai soldiers wounded.128 As at 7 February – One Thai soldier killed, as well as one Thai civilian and 30 Thai soldiers wounded, as well as four Thai civilians.129 15 February – five Thai soldiers wounded, although Thai military reports claimed that only one Thai soldier was wounded.130
Political events since 2008
‘Thai-Cambodia clashes claim six lives’, Big Pond News, 7 February 2011, available: http://bigpondnews.com/articles/World/2011/02/07/ThaiCambodia_clashes_claim_six_lives_574335.html. 126 ‘Two die in Cambodia clash’, Bangkok Post, 5 February 2011, available: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/219952/two-die-in-cambodiaclash. 127 ‘Thai-Cambodian border clash: 16 Thais killed, 26 wounded and 4 captured’, Thailand News, 4 February 2011, available: http://www.thailandnews.co/2011/02/thai-cambodian-border-clash-16-thais-killed-26-wounded-and-4-captured/. 128 ‘Fresh fighting at Thai-Cambodia border’, Channel News Asia, 5 February 2011, available: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/1108956/1/.html. 129 ‘Border toll: Two Thais killed, 34 injured’, Bangkok Post, 7 February 2011, available: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/220334/two-thaikilled-and-34-injured-in-thai-cambodian-border-clashes. 130 Xiong Tong, ‘Thai army confirms one injury in fresh border clash’, Xinhua News Agency, 15 February 2011, available: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2011-02/15/c_13733434.htm.
Date 5 February 2011
Political events since 2008 Cambodia formally complained in a letter to the United Nations (the “UN”) accusing Thailand of violating the 1991 Paris Peace Accord, the UN Charter and the ICJ Judgment.131 Acting on the mandate of the UN Security Council on 14 February 2011, ASEAN Foreign Ministers met in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, to discuss a permanent ceasefire.132 The ASEAN group approved the sending of 40 military and civilian Indonesian monitors to observe the ceasefire agreed upon by Cambodia and Thailand.133 Part of the ASEAN-brokered deal has yet to be put in place, and, while both countries agreed to allow observers, Thailand has made it clear that it wants the issue to be resolved bilaterally.134 Thailand admitted using Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions (commonly referred to as “cluster munitions”) during the fighting around Preah Vihear in February 2011.135 The Joint Commission met in Bogor, Indonesia.136
22 February 2011
5 April 2011
7-8 April 2011 22 April-4 May 2011 On April 22 2011, at around 06:00, Thai troops reportedly crossed into Cambodia and raided the Cambodian
‘Thailand, Cambodia trade shots, charges over ancient temple,’ CNN World, 6 February 2011, available: http://articles.cnn.com/2011-0206/world/cambodia.thailand.violence_1_preah-vihear-cambodian-troops-thia-tropps/2?_s=PM:WORLD. 132 Royal Embassy of Cambodia, ‘Essay: Thailand, Cambodia border conflict: myth entertained, historic facts distorted’, Agence Kampuchea Presse, 28 February 2011, available: http://www.akp.gov.kh/?p=3195. 133 ‘ASEAN to send Monitors to Thailand-Cambodia Border’, Associated Press, 22 February 2011, available: http://embassyofindonesia.it/asean-to-sendmonitors-to-thailand-cambodia-border/. 134 ‘New clashes on disputed Thai-Cambodian border area’, France 24, 25 April 2011, available: http://www.france24.com/en/20110403-cambodiathailand-fighting-erupts-again-in-disputed-border-area. 135 Cluster Munitions Coalition, ‘CMC Condemns Thai use of cluster munitions in Cambodia’, 5 April 2011, available: http://www.stopclustermunitions.org/news/?id=3130. 136 Abhisit Vejjajiva, ‘Intervention of H.E. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of the Kingdom of Thailand responding on the Thailand-Cambodian issue at the Plenary Session of the 18th ASEAN Summit, 7 May 2011, Jakarta’, 7 May 2011, available: http://www.scribd.com/doc/54970529/Thai-PM-Speechat-ASEAN-Summit-7-May-2011.
Border clash military bases along the CambodianThai border, stretching from the Ta Krabey temple complex to the Chup Korki area, and penetrated deep into Cambodian territory.137 On 24 April 2011 a Cambodian military official said that at 17:25 Thai reconnaissance planes were still flying over the Thmor Doun and Chup Korki areas and the Ta Moan temple complex. Thai troops fired sporadic mortar shells into Cambodian 138 territory. There were renewed clashes on the border at both the Ta Moan temple complex and the Ta Krabey temple complex, which extended to Preah Vihear on 26 April 2011, leading to fatalities.139 Cambodia alleged that Thailand was using cluster bombs and shells containing poison gas as well as cutting the electricity supply to Cambodian provinces (Thailand
Political events since 2008
Chhorng Long Heng, ‘Thailand renews aggression over Cambodian territory’, The South East Asia Weekly, 25 April 2011, available: http://thesoutheastasiaweekly.com/?p=821. 138 Cambodian Foreign Relations, ‘Latest Update on Cambodian-Thai Border Armed Clashes -- Third Round’, 24 April 2011, available: http://cambodianforeignaffairs.blogspot.com/2011/04/latest-update-on-cambodian-thai-border.html. 139 Thanyarat Doksone, ‘Clashes along Thai-Cambodia border spread east’, Yahoo News, 26 April 2011, available: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110426/ap_on_re_as/as_thailand_cambodia_clash.
Border clash supplies electricity to parts of Cambodia). 140 Thailand alleged that Cambodia was using civilians as shields and using Preah Vihear as a military base.141 Both Cambodia and Thailand accused the other of breaching ceasefires agreed upon throughout this period. A ceasefire was agreed on 4 May 2011 and the border re-opened for trade.142 Reported casualties: 22 April – Three Thai soldiers killed and thirteen wounded. Three Cambodian soldiers killed and six wounded.143 23 April – Three Cambodian soldiers and one Thai soldier killed.144 22-23 April 2011 – approximately 29,500 civilians evacuated from the areas of conflict.145 As at 25 April – seven Cambodian
Political events since 2008
James Hookway, ‘Thai-Cambodia border dispute adds to election worries’, The Wall Street Journal, 24 April 2011, available: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703396404576282952545572360.html; ‘Thailand debating cutting power to Cambodia’, Thailand Times, 27 April 2011, available: http://thailandtimes.asia/thailand-news/thailand-debating-cutting-power-to-cambodia. 141 ‘Army: Cambodia using human shields’, Bangkok Post, 25 April 2011, available: http://www.bangkokpost.com/breakingnews/233666/cambodiabuilds-human-shields. 142 ‘Thai, Cambodia armies agree to ceasefire, borders opened for trade’, International Business Times, 5 May 2011, available: http://hken.ibtimes.com/articles/141610/20110505/thai-cambodia-ceasefire-war-clashes-asean.htm. 143 ‘Thai-Cambodia border dispute flares again, leaving six soldiers dead’, The Guardian, 22 April 2011, available: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/22/thailand-cambodia-border-dispute-flares. 144 Sopheng Cheang, ‘Cambodia claims Thai used chemical weapon in clash’, Associated Press, 23 April 2011, available: http://www.asiaworks.com/news/2011/04/23/cambodia-claims-thai-used-chemical-weapon-in-clash-ap/. 145 ‘Over 12 Killed in Thai-Cambodian Border Clash’, Pattaya Daily News, 25 April 2011, available: http://www.pattayadailynews.com/en/2011/04/25/over-12-killed-in-thai-cambodian-border-clash/.
Border clash soldiers and five Thai soldiers killed, with one Cambodian soldier missing.146 As at 26 April – five Thai soldiers killed, with forty-six wounded;147 50,000 civilians evacuated.148 28 April – One Thai soldier killed.149 As at 28 April – eight Cambodian and seven Thai soldiers killed, one Thai civilian killed, 17 Cambodian and 35 Thai soldiers wounded, and one Cambodian soldier missing in action.150 As at 1 May – nine Cambodian and seven Thai soldiers killed, and one Thai civilian killed;151 18 Cambodian soldiers and 50 Thai soldiers, wounded.152
Political events since 2008
2 May 2011
Cambodia filed the Application at the ICJ.153
Nong Kanna, ‘Clashes on border with Cambodia’, AFP, 25 April 2011, available: http://www.ttrweekly.com/site/2011//04/clashes-on-border-withcambodia. 147 ‘More Border Fighting Erupts’, Thai-ASEAN News Network, 26 April 2011, available: http://www.thailandoutlook.tv/tan/ViewData.aspx?DataID=1043127. 148 Martin Petty, ‘Thai, Cambodia troops clash again; peace hopes fade’, Reuters, 25 April 2011, available: http://www.sharenet.co.za/news/Thai_Cambodia_troops_clash_again_peace_talks_sought/946aa458a37b896ef62caf41328eb60f. 149 Thanyarat Doksone and Sopheng Cheang, ‘Thai, Cambodia clashes continue despite cease-fire’, Huffpost World, 28 April 2011, available: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20110428/as-thailand-cambodia-clash/. 150 Roger A. Lee, ‘Thailand Cambodia Border Dispute’, 28 April 2011, available: http://www.historyguy.com/thailand_cambodia_border_dispute.htm. 151 ‘Fighting Eases on Thai Cambodian Border: Officials’, Saigon, 1 May 2011, available: http://en.baomoi.com/Home/world/www.saigongpdaily.com.vn/Fighting-eases-on-ThaiCambodian-border-officials/138360.epi. 152 ‘Thai, Cambodian Troops clash again at border’ The Seattle Times, 1 May 2011, available: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2014925849_apasthailandcambodiaclash.html?syndication=rss. 153 Cambodia files an Application requesting interpretation of the Judgment rendered by the Court on 15 June 1962 in the case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand) and also asks for the urgent indication of provisional measures, ICJ Press Release 2011/14, 2 May 2011, available: http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/151/16480.pdf.
Date 5 May 2011
Political events since 2008 Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva stated that he would not allow any international troops at Preah Vihear, unless Cambodia withdrew its forces from the disputed territory. He alleged that the presence of Cambodian troops was in violation of the MOU 2000.154 It was announcement that the Thai general election would likely be held on 3 July 2011.155 Cambodia and Thailand verbally agreed to allow a non-uniformed Indonesian military team to survey proposed sites for observers to monitor a ceasefire at the border.156 The ICJ heard oral submissions from both Cambodia and Thailand.157 Thailand decided to withdraw from the World Heritage Convention in Paris.158 Thai general elections take place and Pheu Thai win a landslide majority.159
7 May 2011 23 May 2011
30-31 May 2011 26 June 2011 3 July 2011
‘No border observers until Cambodia withdraws troops: Thai PM’, IBN Live, 5 May 2011, available: http://ibnlive.in.com/generalnewsfeed/news/noborder-observers-until-cambodia-withdraws-troops-thai-pm/672731.html. 155 Jeerapong Prasertpongkrang and Somroutai Sapsomboon, ‘Thai elections likely to be held on July 3’, The Nation (Thailand) and Asia News Network, 7 May 2011, available: http://www.asianewsnet.net/home/news.php?id=18800&sec=1. 156 Vong Sokheng, ‘Surveyors to head to the border’, The Phnom Penh Post, 23 May 2011, available: http://www.phnompenhpost.com/index.php/2011052349281/National-news/surveyors-to-head-to-the-border.html. 157 Request for Interpretation of the Judgment of 15 June 1962 in the Case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand) (Cambodia v. Thailand) (Conclusion of the public hearings on Cambodia’s Request for the indication of provisional measures), ICJ Press Release 2011/19, 31 May 2011, available: http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/151/16536.pdf. 158 ‘Thai leader defends leaving UN heritage site body’, The Associated Press, 26 June 2011, available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hmss0VXYAdjIi4H1JU-40qj4wDow?docId=590f5ee8aa8c42439c2aacd8d94f0bb7. 159 ‘Yingluck, Pheu Thai win in a landslide’, Bangkok Post, 3 July 2011, available: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/politics/245126/poll-result-tobe-known-around-10pm.
Date 18 July 2011
Political events since 2008 The ICJ is due to deliver its order in response to the Application.160
Request for Interpretation of the Judgment of 15 June 1962 in the Case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand) (Cambodia v. Thailand) (Request for the indication of provisional measures – The Court to deliver its Order on Monday 18 July 2011 at 10 a.m.), ICJ Press Release 2011/20, 17 July 2011, available: http://www.icjcij.org/presscom/index.php?pr=2358&pt=1&p1=6&p2=1&PHPSESSID=bc917fcb243800e4c59367f1a6874575.
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