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សកម្មភាពឆ្ពោះទៅកាន់ការបង្កើត សមាគមអ្នកប្រវត្តិសាស្ត្រកម្ពុជា
Activities toward the establishment of the Cambodian Historians Association


សកម្មភាព នៃសមាគម អ្នកប្រវត្តិសាស្ត្រ កម្ពុជា ក្រោយពេលបង្កើត
Activities of the Cambodian Historians Association after the establishment


សកម្មភាពទី១ របស់សមាគម
(First activity of the Association)
កម្មវិធីស្រាវជ្រាវអំពី « ប្រវត្តិវិទ្យាល័យ ព្រះស៊ីសុវត្ថិ»
Research Program on “History of Sisowath High School”

 

Seminar in Singapore
The Preah Vihear Case - What Happens Now?
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, Wednesday 4 December 2013

Left to right:
Dr. Sorn Samnang (Cambodian Speaker), Dr. Ooi Kee Beng, ISEAS (Moderator),
Dr. Puangthong Pawakapan (Thai Speaker)

 

Preah Vihear Case: the Past and Recent ICJ decisions

Paper presented at the ISEAS, Singapore on 4 December 2013
By Prof. Sorn Samnang, President of Cambodian Historians Association

In the case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear, between Cambodia and Thailand, instituted on 6 October 1959 by an Application of Cambodia, the subject of the dispute was sovereignty over the region of the Temple of Preah Vihear (1). This ancient sanctuary stood on a promontory of the Dangrek range of mountains which constituted the boundary between Cambodia and Thailand.

Since 1949, Thailand has persisted in the occupation of the Temple of Preah Vihear. Furthemore, in 1954, Thailand sent into this portion of territory detachments of its armed forces. Cambodia has refrained from replying by force to this serious violation of its territorial integrity. But the diplomatic representations made to Thailand have proved unavailing. Cambodia has thus been impelled to bring the matter before the International Court of Justice (2).

I. Past ICJ decisions
1-Geographical location of the Temple of Preah Vihear

The Temple of Preah Vihear is situated on a promontory of the same name in the eastern part of the Dangrek range of mountains, which constitutes the boundary between the two countries in this region - Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the north.

 

Source : Map of Cambodia « Dangrek range of mountains and the Temple of Preah Vihear »

 

 

 
Source of the map: Général Jean Marchand, L’Indochine en guerre,
“Les presses modernes”, Paris, 1954
Dangrek range of mountains and the Temple of Preah Vihear
Preah Vihear Temple is located in Svay Chhrum village, Kantuot commune, Choam Khsan district

2-Cambodia's title to sovereignty as established by the treaties

From 1863 to 1953-1954, Cambodia was under the protectorate of France. In accordance with the principle of the protectorate regime, France represented Cambodia in international relations. During that period, the treaties and international instruments which delimit the frontier between Cambodia and Thailand were concluded. The original convention, which is fundamental for the purposes of the settlement of this dispute, is that of 13 February 1904 (3).

On 13 February 1904, France and Siam (as Thailand was then called) concluded a treaty which specified that the frontier in the Dangrek sector was to follow the watershed line (article 1).  The 1904 Treaty provided for the establishment of Mixed Commissions composed of officers appointed by the two Parties and responsible for delimiting the frontier between the two territories (article 3).  The first Mixed Commission was thus established in 1904.  The final stage of the operation of delimitation was to be the preparation and publication of maps, a task assigned to a team of four French officers, three of whom had been members of the Mixed Commission. 


Source of the map: Alain Forest, Le Cambodge et la colonisation française.
Histoire d’une colonisation sans heurts (1897-1920)

History of Thai withdrawal from Cambodia from East to West (1890-1907)
(1)     In February 1890, a Siamese military leader commanding a massive troop of 370 Laotians, 22 Siamese, 14 elephants moved to Bandon (near Mondulkiri). The French captain Cupet, accompanied by a Cambodian soldier is sent to block the way. Siamese troops turned back to Stung Treng (4).
(2)     The Franco-Siamese Treaty of 3 October 1893 allowed the return to Cambodia Stung Treng province.
(3)     By the Franco-Siamese Treaty of 13 February 1904, Siam had to return to Cambodia the provinces of Melou Prey and Tonle Repou.
(4)    Thanks to Franco-Siamese Treaty of 23 March 1907, Siam ceded to France the territories of Battambang, Siem Reap and Sisophon. Then, these three provinces were returned to King Sisowath on 23 December 1907.

In 1907, that team (Mixed Commission) prepared a series of 11 maps covering a large part of the frontiers between Siam and French Indo-China (of which Cambodia formed part).  In particular, it drew up a map entitled “Dangrek - Commission of Delimitation between Indo-China and Siam”, on which the frontier passed to the north of Preah Vihear, thus leaving the Temple in Cambodia (5).  

Dangrek - Commission de délimitation entre l’Indo-Chine et le Siam

Source : The Temple of Preah Vihear Proposed for the inscription on the World Heritage List,
The Council of Ministers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, June 2008, p. 8.

            Following Cambodia’s independence on 9 November 1953, Thailand occupied the Temple of Preah Vihear in 1954.  Negotiations between the parties regarding the Temple were unsuccessful and, on 6 October 1959, Cambodia seised the Court by unilateral application.

            During the merits phase of the proceedings, Cambodia relied upon the above-mentioned map entitled “Dangrek - Commission of Delimitation between Indo-China and Siam”, which was annexed to its pleadings and was referred to as the “Annex I map”.  The line shown on the Annex I map had thus become the frontier between the two States.

Annex I map was annexed to the
Application instituting proceedingsRequest for interpretation
of the Judgment of 15 June 1962 in the case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear” submitted by Cambodia on 28 April 2011


Source of the map : Application instituting proceedings “Request for interpretation
of the Judgment of 15 June 1962 in the case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear”
submitted by Cambodia on 28 April 2011

 

3-ICJ Judgment in 1961 and 1962
3.1-First judgment (26 May 1961)
Proceedings in the case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear, between Cambodia and Thailand, were instituted on 6 October 1959 by an Application of the Government of Cambodia; the Government of Thailand having raised two preliminary objections, the Court, by its Judgment of 26 May 1961 (first judgment), found that it had jurisdiction.

 


Map submitted by Thailand in Counter-Memorial of Thai government (29 September 1961).
This Thai map was rejected by the ICJ Judgment on the merits of 15 June 1962.

Let’s compare the Map submitted by Cambodia on 6 October 1959 (left) and Map submitted by Thailand in Counter-Memorial of Thai government on 29 September 1961 (right)

3.2-Second judgment (15 June 1962)

In its Judgment on the merits of 15 June 1962 (second judgment) the Court, 'by nine votes to three, found that the Temple of Preah Vihear was situated in territory under the sovereignty of Cambodia and, in consequence, that Thailand was under an obligation to withdraw any military or police forces, or other guards or keepers, stationed by her at the Temple, or in its vicinity on Cambodian territory.

By seven votes to five, the Court found that Thailand was under an obligation to restore to Cambodia any sculptures, stelae, fragments of monuments, sandstone model and ancient pottery which might, since the date of the occupation of the Temple by Thailand in 1954, have been removed from the Temple or the Temple area by the Thai authorities.   


Source : The Temple of Preah Vihear Proposed for the inscription on the World Heritage List,
The Council of Ministers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, June 2008, p. 9.

Note: Thai map (right) was unilaterally drawn up (by the Resolution of the Thai government on 10 July 1962) after the ICJ Judgment on the merits of 15 June 1962 to claim the 4.6 square kilometers (the vicinity of the Temple of Preah Vihear). This Thai map was recently rejected by the ICJ Judgment of 11 November 2013.

II-Recent ICJ decisions
1-Armed clashes
Since 15 July 2008, Thais soldiers invaded Preah Vihear temple. Soon after that, on 22 July 2008, Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo held informal discussions with ASEAN Foreign Ministers to discuss the latest developments in the Preah Vihear issue. There was a proposal for an ASEAN Contact Group to help support the efforts of Thailand and Cambodia to find a peaceful resolution to the issue (6). Ministers from Thailand and Cambodia briefed their ASEAN counterparts (in Singapore) on border dispute over the Preah Vihear Temple. According to diplomats after the meeting, Cambodia wants ASEAN to get involved, but Thailand wants to solve the dispute bilaterally (7).

Since October 2008, armed clashes have taken place and have continued to take place in the Temple of Preah Vihear area, in particular between 4 and 7 February 2011, leading to fatalities, injuries and the displacement of local inhabitants, and damage has been caused to the Temple and to the property associated with it. 

2-Cambodian request for the Intervention of UN Security Council

In a letter dated 5 February 2011, and sent to Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, president of the UNSC, Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong said that on 4 February 2011 between 3 to 5 pm, about 300 Thai troops entered Cambodian territory and attacked Cambodian troops at three locations. "This aggression by Thai armed forces was also followed by firing of many 130 mm and 155 mm artillery shells which reached as far as about 20 km inside Cambodian territory. The attack caused many serious damages to the Temple of Preah Vihear, a world heritage, as well as death and injury of more than ten Cambodian troops and villagers," the letter said.

Hor Namhong said in the letter that "the repeated acts of aggression against Cambodia by Thailand violate “the Judgment of International Court of Justice (ICJ) on 15 June, 1962”…
Hor Namhong asked president of the UNSC to "circulate this letter to all members of the United Nations Security Council as an official document (8)."

On 14 February 2011, the Security Council called for a permanent ceasefire to be established between the two Parties and expressed its support for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in seeking a solution to the conflict. The Chair of ASEAN therefore proposed to the Parties that observers be deployed along their boundary.

UN Security Council president of the month and Brazilian Ambassador to the UN Maria Ribeiro Viotti speaks on the recent armed clashes between Cambodia and Thailand at the UN headquarters in New York, the United States, 14 February 2011.

On Monday 9 May 2011, Malaysia blamed Thailand for the renewed clashes on the Thai-Cambodia border, saying it had reneged on a deal to send observers to the disputed region. "An agreement had been agreed upon, Thailand should adhere to it, I wouldn't want to say lacking in faith... but they did not adhere to the agreement," Malaysian deputy foreign minister Richard Riot Jaem told reporters. "Thailand refused and that's why the skirmish came again," said Riot, who attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting where it was agreed 30 observers would be stationed on either side of the border. "All the 10 countries, I stress, including Thailand and Cambodia, agreed to the agreement but sad to say, the agreement was brought back to the respective two countries. Cambodia accepted it, Thailand did not accept," he said (9).





No smiles and no meeting of minds
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (left), Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (centre)
and Prime Minister Hun Sen (right)-AFP Photo (10)


3-Fighting along Cambodian-Thai boundary
Since 22 April 2011, serious armed incidents have occurred in the area of the Temple of Preah Vihear and at several locations situated along the boundary between Cambodia and Thailand. At least four soldiers have been killed in fighting along the border between Thailand and Cambodia, raising the death toll to 10 in two days. Troops exchanged artillery and gunfire in jungle around Ta Krabey temple. The area is about 200km (125 miles) west of the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple (11).

Thailand is responsible for those incidents which have caused fatalities, injuries and the evacuation of local inhabitants.  In spite of these above-mentioned attempts to settle the dispute peacefully, there was a further exchange of fire between the Parties on 26 April 2011 in the area of the Temple.

4-Cambodia files an Application requesting interpretation

On 28 April 2011, having filed its Application, Cambodia also submitted a request for the indication of provisional measures in order to ‘cause the incursions onto its territory by Thailand to cease’ pending the Court’s ruling on the Request for interpretation of the 1962 Judgment.

5-Provisional measures

The ICJ Order of 18 July 2011 indicates the following provisional measures:
(1) By eleven votes to five,
Both Parties shall immediately withdraw their military personnel currently present in the provisional demilitarized zone, as defined in paragraph 62 of the present Order, and refrain from any military presence within that zone and from any armed activity directed at that zone;

(2) By fifteen votes to one,
Thailand shall not obstruct Cambodia’s free access to the Temple of Preah Vihear or Cambodia’s provision of fresh supplies to its non-military personnel in the Temple;

(3) By fifteen votes to one,
Both Parties shall continue the co-operation which they have entered into within ASEAN and, in particular, allow the observers appointed by that organization to have access to the provisional demilitarized zone;

(4) By fifteen votes to one,
Both Parties shall refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the Court or make it more difficult to resolve;

 

Sketch–map of provisional demilitarized zone identified by the court


Sketch–map of provisional demilitarized zone identified by the court
(Order of 18 July 2011 indicating provisional measures)

6-ICJ Interpretation

On 28 April 2011, Cambodia requested the Court to interpret the Judgment delivered by the Court on 15 June 1962 in the case concerning Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand).

In its Judgment of 11 November 2013, the Court,
(1) Unanimously,
Finds that it has jurisdiction under Article 60 of the Statute to entertain the Request for interpretation of the 1962 Judgment presented by Cambodia, and that this Request is admissible;  

(2) Unanimously,
Declares, by way of interpretation, that the Judgment of 15 June 1962 decided 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, Thailand was under an obligation to withdraw from that territory the Thai military or police forces, or other guards or keepers, that were stationed there.

Phnom Trap and Pagoda are clearly situated in the Cambodian territory

 

KEO SIKHA KIRI SVARA pagoda was built by Cambodia in 1998

III-Present ICJ decision viewed by the Cambodian side

This is the second victory of Cambodia in the case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear. It is the victory of Justice. Cambodian people have expressed their satisfactions with the ICJ's verdict on 11 November 2013.
Unanimously, the Court declares that Cambodia has sovereignty over the whole territory of the promontory of Preah Vihear, and that Thailand is under an obligation to withdraw from that territory the Thai military or police forces that were stationed there.

Article 94 (1) of the UN Charter states that “Each Member of the United Nations undertakes to comply with the decision of the International Court of Justice in any case to which it is a party”.

For that reason, the decision of the International Court of Justice on Preah Vihear cannot be defied. A proposal by Thai nationalist groups that the government not comply with the ICJ's judgement over the Preah Vihear land dispute is useless and could damage Thailand's international reputation (12).

For the sake of good-neighborly relations with Thailand, Cambodian leaders have called on armed forces along the border to keep calm and exercise utmost restraint to avoid any activities that could lead to tension or clashes so that the governments of Cambodia and Thailand would be able to discuss the implementation of the verdict. Recently, Cambodian government spokesman said "Now, we are the winner. We slow down talks because we don't want Thai extremists and opposition politicians to use this issue to put pressure on the Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's government. We do not rush on this issue because we won it already"(13).

But Cambodian scholars encourage Thailand to comply with the ICJ's decision of 11 November 2013 on Preah Vihear without delay to restore Thai international prestige in time (14), as Thailand announces to the international community that it is looking to play a greater role at the UN.

The ASEAN Leaders at their Summit in Kuala Lumpur in December 1997 decided to transform ASEAN into a stable, prosperous, and highly competitive region with equitable economic development (ASEAN Vision 2020). They envisioned a Southeast Asia where our mountains, rivers and seas no longer divide us but link us together in friendship, cooperation and commerce.

Notes:
1-Summary of the Judgment of 15 June 1962 in the Case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear (Merits)
2-Application instituting proceedings (6 October 1959), p. 4-5.
3-Convention conclue à Paris, le 13 février 1904, entre le Gouvernement de la République Française et le Gouvernement de S.M. le Roi de Siam.
4-Sorn Samnang, L’évolution de la société cambodgienne entre les deux guerres mondiales (1919-1939),
Thèse d’Histoire, Université Paris 7, Octobre 1995, p. 174.
5-Summary of Judgment of 11 November 2013, p. 1, and Judgment of 11 November 2013, p. 12.
6-www.asean.org/news/item/statement-by-minister-for-foreign-affairs.
7-Xinhua, July 22, 2008, “Thailand, Cambodia committed to peaceful resolution of border dispute”
8-Xinhua, 5 February 2011  
9-Preah Vihear at 18 ASEAN Summit 7-8 May 2011 “Malaysia blames Thailand over Cambodia border clash”, AFP, Monday, 9 May 2011
10-Bangkok Post, Published: 9/05/2011
11-The BBC, 23 April 2011 “Thailand and Cambodia clash again along border”
12-The Nation, 6 November 2013 “ICJ's ruling on Preah Vihear cannot be defied”
13-Xinhua, 18 November 2013 “No rush to talk with Thailand after ICJ's verdict: Cambodian spokesman”
14-Radio Free Asia, 20 November 2013 “Cambodia urges Thailand to comply with the ICJ's decision.