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ICJ set for border case; verdict will take time

ICJ set for border case; verdict will take time

A final ruling on the government’s request that the International Court of Justice reinterpret its 1962 judgment on Preah Vihear temple could take “years”, an ICJ official said yesterday, though a provisional ruling requiring that troops withdraw from the area could be issued within a few weeks.

Last week, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong travelled to The Hague, where he submitted the request to the ICJ for the judgment’s reinterpretation.

The ICJ is an arm of the United Nations that handles disputes between states. Its 1962 judgment handed sovereignty of Preah Vihear to Cambodia, though conflict with Thailand in the area has continued due to competing claims over an adjacent, 4.6-square-kilometre patch of territory.

Cambodia’s request to the ICJ has two components, according to case documents posted to the ICJ’s website on Monday.

One is a request for the court to order “provisional measures” including “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” and “a ban on all military activity by Thailand in the area”.

Second, the government has called for an interpretation of the “meaning” and “scope” of the 1962 judgment as it relates to the boundary between Thailand and Cambodia.

Kingdom officials marked their request “urgent”, and Andrey Poskakukhin, head of the information department at the ICJ, said yesterday that the court “will deal with and consider this case as soon as possible”.

“For the provisional measures, it will be quick – a matter of weeks or a couple of months,” he said. “But for the interpretation on the merits of the case, the interpretation can take years.”

In ruling on both the requested provisional measures and on the reinterpretation of the judgment, Poskakukhin said, the ICJ will accept written pleadings from the parties prior to holding public hearings. The ICJ does not itself have the power to enforce its judgments, he added, though parties to its cases can appeal for assistance to the UN Security Council.

With peace talks with Thailand making little progress, Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday that the Kingdom hoped the ICJ would provide “the peaceful and the final solution to the border issues”.

The Thai government, which has continually opposed third-party involvement in the dispute, said last week that it “regrets” the Cambodia’s appeal to the ICJ but is prepared to fight the case.

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