On this forthcoming 11 November 2013, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) will issue its decision on the request of the Kingdom of Cambodia for interpretation of the judgment on 15 June 1962 in the case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear.
On this occasion, I would like to inform our Buddhist monks and compatriots of the case’s background. Failing to achieve success for many years after the Thai army invaded and occupied the Preah Vihear Temple in 1954 and by peaceful efforts, Cambodia had brought the case before the International Court of Justice. Based on cause in fact and legal cause, especially the scale 1/200000 Annex I Map drawn by the Franco-Siamese Mixed Commission on 15 June 1962, the International Court of Justice rendered judgment on three points (1) the Temple of Preah Vihear is situated in the territory under the sovereignty of Cambodia; (2) Thailand is 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; and (3) Thailand is under an obligation to restore to Cambodia any objects that have been removed from the Temple or the Temple area by the Thai authorities. Since the issuance of the verdict in 1962 by the International Court of Justice, the conflict between Cambodia and Thailand concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear area decreased, and never appeared in remarkably large scale.
However, the conflict over the sovereignty of the Preah Vihear Temple area regained tension on 15 July 2008 when the Thai army entered the Cambodian territory at the geographical location of Keo Sekha Kirisvarak Buddhist pagoda after the Temple of Preah Vihear was placed at the Cambodian proposal in the list of the World Heritage on 8 July 2008. The dispute expanded to various armed clashes causing impacts on human lives, property and especially the Temple itself.
Viewing the fact that use of bilateral and multilateral mechanism to resolve the issue was ineffective, whereas armed clashes along the Cambodian-Thai border continued to happen, aiming to cease the conflict by peaceful means in accordance with international practice and to safeguard good neighborly relations and close cooperation between the two countries and people – Cambodia and Thailand, on 28 April 2011, the Royal Government of Cambodia brought the case before the International Court of Justice requesting for immediate measures to cease the armed clashes and for interpretation of the 15 June 1962 judgment at the understanding that the conflict arises because of different interpretation by Cambodia and by Thailand on the content and extension of the 1962 judgment. As a result, on 18 July 2011, the International Court of Justice agreed to the request of Cambodia to issue immediate measures requiring both Parties to withdraw their troops from the provisional demilitarized zone of 17.3 square Kilometers and to examine the Cambodian request for the interpretation of the 1962 judgment.
It is in this note that I would like to reaffirm for our Buddhist monks and compatriots of the fact that that the Royal Government of Cambodia proposes to the International Court of Justice to provide interpretation of its 1962 judgment is not for fuelling the flame of conflict or for ambition to gain territory over the neighboring country. On the contrary, the Royal Government understands that this shall be an effective and necessary means for the two Parties to reach the end of the problem peacefully and in respect of the international law, mutual respect of national sovereignty and territorial integrity and good neighborly relations. The Royal Government of Cambodia always adheres firmly to the effort of building a clearly defined borderline and transforming the Cambodian border areas with neighboring countries into ones of peace, friendship, cooperation and development.
It is in this spirit, HE Yingluck Shinawatra, Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense of the Kingdom of Thailand, and I have taken a common stand that, whatever the interpretation of the ICJ would be on 11 November 2013, the two countries would abide by its decision and make further efforts to maintain peace and stability along the border. In this meaning, I would appeal to the armed forces fulfilling their duties in the border area to maintain calmness, patience and avoid actions that would cause tension or eventual clashes.
I would appeal to all Buddhist monks and compatriots to remain calm, to continue to maintain security and public order in the country as well as continue to raise high the spirit of good neighborly relations, solidarity, friendship, harmonious and close cooperation between the two countries’ and peoples’ – Cambodia and Thailand – immediate-term and long-term common interest./.