Though not the maps Prime Minister Hun Sen requested, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has agreed to temporarily lend Cambodia some UN-held charts of the Kingdom to tackle disputes over the shared border with Vietnam.
The decision comes almost a month after Hun Sen wrote to Ban asking for the original, constitutionally mandated French-made maps deposited by King Norodom Sihanouk with the UN in 1964.
In a response dated August 5, the UN secretary-general said a search of the UN’s Dag Hammerskjold library had yielded digital and print maps “which may be of interest to your government” but not those specified by the premier.
Contrary to official UN policy, which prohibits the library from lending maps, Ban said Cambodia can borrow the charts for a limited period and subject to unspecified conditions.
He then added: “I would emphasise that the United Nations is not to be understood to officially endorse or accept the boundaries and names shown on the maps concerned.”
Hun Sen requested the maps to verify the ongoing demarcation of the boundary with Vietnam, which the Cambodia National Rescue Party says has been mismanaged.
He has also asked for maps held by the US, France and Great Britain.
According to Ban’s letter, digital copies of the maps had already been given to Ry Tuy, Cambodia’s permanent representative at the UN on July 27.
Senior minister in charge of border affairs Var Kimhong, deputy chair of the new committee, said 18 physical maps from the UN would follow.
“The commission will start working as soon as the maps are handed over to the Cambodian government,” he said.
“Regarding the attached conditions, we now are negotiating with UN. I cannot talk about it yet.”
On Thursday, Hun Sen established a committee of 11 senior government officials, led by Foreign Minister Hor Namong, to receive and utilise the documents.
CNRP lawmaker Um Sam An, among the most outspoken critics on the issue, said if the maps weren’t the constitutionally mandated maps, created by the French between 1933 and 1953, they couldn’t be used for demarcation.