Preah Vihear: faith in justice

08 June 2011 by Jared Ferrie

Judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) are deliberating whether to wade into a bloody border conflict, after Cambodia asked that it order Thailand to withdraw troops from positions near an 11th century Hindu temple.

Public hearings were conducted May 30 and 31 in response to a request from Cambodia that the Court interpret a 1962 judgment that placed the Preah Vihear temple inside Cambodian territory. Although the judgment also supported a map demarcating the border, Thailand argues that the ICJ did not have jurisdiction to rule on the border.

A disputed 4.6 square kilometer section of land at the foot of the temple has become a flashpoint for military clashes, including those that claimed at least 10 lives in February.

Cambodia hopes an ICJ clarification will effectively demarcate the border. Thailand wants the Court to dismiss Cambodia’s application, arguing that it has complied with the 1962 ruling, which required it to withdraw its forces from the temple and Cambodian territory in the vicinity.

"The point is that it's unreasonable that the ICJ should grant an injunction as requested by Cambodia when Thailand had abided by the court's ruling issued in 1962,” Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told the Bangkok Post the day before hearings began.

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