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Mapping the Peace: The Request for Interpretation in the Temple of Preah Vihear Case

Published on November 20, 2013        Author: 

Inna Uchkunova, New Bulgarian University (LLM), is a member of the International Moot Court Competition Association (IMCCA), Bulgaria. Oleg Temnikov is an Attorney-at-Law and Associate at the Sofia Office of Wolf Theiss law firm.

There is a fable which tells of two brothers who made their living from farming. They shared a commonPreahvihear farmland and divided the harvest equally. Every year, the night after harvesting, the same thing happened. Each brother would think that the other one deserves a greater share of the grain, so each would fill two sacks and will sneak unnoticed into his brother’s barn to put the sacks there. One such night, the brothers bumped into each other halfway between their houses and thus they understood what has been happening. Word spread in the village and their compatriots decided to make a shrine on the place of their meeting to commemorate the compassion of the two brothers.

The story of the Temple of Preah Vihear (aerial view above left, credit) is a different one. Instead of bringing people together, it has divided two nations for decades. The Temple has been a source of contention between Cambodia and Thailand since Cambodia’s independence from French rule in the mid-1900s. On 11 November, the ICJ rendered a judgment on Cambodia’s Request for Interpretation of the Court’s 1962 judgment in the Preah Vihear case. This post discusses the history of the case and the recent judgment.

Cambodia first instituted proceedings before the ICJ in 1959, after Thailand occupied the Temple and negotiations failed to produce a peaceful settlement. Cambodia asked the Court to declare that Cambodia had sovereignty over the Temple and that Thailand was obliged to withdraw its forces. In its final submissions, Cambodia presented additional claims asking the Court to adjudge, inter alia, that “the frontier line between Cambodia and Thailand, in the Dangrek sector, is that which is marked on the map of the Commission of Delimitation between Indo-China and Siam (Annex 1 to the Memorial of Cambodia).” The Court determined this claim to be inadmissible as a “new claim” and held that it “can be entertained only to the extent that [it] give[s] expression to grounds, and not as claims to be dealt with in the operative provisions of the Judgment.” Read the rest of this entry…

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