During the Cambodian team’s last day of statements before the International Court of Justice, lawyers shot back at Thai arguments claiming a 1962 ICJ ruling had granted to Cambodia only the 11th century Preah Vihear temple, and not necessarily a significant area around the temple.
Cambodian counsel Rodman Bundy told the court that Cambodian maps from the 1960s, which the Thai team had argued demonstrated Cambodia’s acceptance of Thai boundaries, had been intended by Cambodia only to sketch the natural watershed around the area, and not to indicate any territorial claims.
Noting that the area under dispute always had been larger than Thailand would admit, Bundy added: “When a state objects as many times as Cambodia did, it is not over a few metres.”
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Hun Sen urged the armed forces and citizens of both Cambodia and Thailand to maintain their good relationship despite the ongoing hearings.
Speaking to several hundred villagers, youths and government officials at a groundbreaking ceremony for a new administration building at Kampot town’s municipal hall, the premier appealed to Cambodian and Thai military forces not to escalate the territorial dispute, and to allow the court to settle the case.
“We should resolve the issue by peaceful means with the legal teams at the ICJ, and not allow this small dispute to widen along the border,” the prime minister said.
Thai and Cambodian forces clashed near Preah Vihear repeatedly between 2008, the year the temple was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site at Cambodia’s request, and 2011, after which Cambodia asked the ICJ to explicate its 1962 ruling.
“Do not destroy a bilateral relationship between the two countries that involves trade, tourism, culture and other sectors,” Hun Sen said.
“There was happiness and good relationships from province to province, district to district, armed forces to armed forces, police to police and local authorities to local authorities between the two countries.”
Thailand will present its closing statements before the ICJ today.