Cambodia asks UN court to order Thai troop withdrawal

3rd May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Cambodia has asked the International Court of Justice to order Thailand to withdraw its troops from the disputed area around the temple of Preah Vihear as a matter of urgency, the ICJ said Tuesday.

Cambodia demanded "an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all Thai forces from those parts of Cambodian territory situated in the area of the Temple of Preah Vihear" in an application filed before the court.

The UN court, based in The Hague, ruled in 1962 that the Khmer temple belonged to Cambodia, but both Phnom Penh and Bangkok claim ownership of a 4.6-square-kilometre (1.8-square-mile) surrounding area.

Cambodia on Thursday asked the ICJ to clarify that ruling.

The request "for the interpretation of the court's judgment ... concerning the temple of Preah Vihear" was prompted by "Thailand's repeated armed aggression to exert its claims to Cambodian territory," the Cambodian foreign ministry said Friday.

The court will examine Cambodia's demand in hearings within the next few months, but an exact date has not yet been set.

"The filing of Cambodia's application gave rise to the opening of a new case," the ICJ added in the press release.

It was only the seventh time the United Nations' highest judicial organisation -- founded in 1946 -- has been asked to clarify a decision.

In the other six instances, requests to clarify ICJ decisions were made one or two years later.

The Cambodian government on Friday said the ICJ's clarification over the disputed area was of "the utmost necessity ... in order to peacefully and definitely settle the boundary problem between the two countries in the area."

"Since April 22, serious incidents have occurred in the area of the Temple of Preah Vihear... as well as at several locations along the boundary of the two states, causing fatalities, injuries and the evacuation of local inhabitants," Cambodia said.

Eight Thai troops and nine Cambodian soldiers have died in the last two weeks in the conflict around two disputed temples.

Relations between the two countries have been strained since the 900-year-old Khmer temple of Preah Vihear was granted UN World Heritage status in July 2008, despite the IJC's 1962 ruling in favour of Cambodia.

But Thailand controlled its main access and both countries demanded the 4.6-square-kilometre zone around the structure.

© 2011 AFP

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