Defense Team on Preah Vihear Case Honored

Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong on Saturday bestowed a medal and the title of Moha Sereivat on one of four foreign lawyers who successfully presented Cambodia’s case for disputed territory around Preah Vihear temple before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The Hague-based ICJ, the U.N.’s top court, on November 11 ruled that Cambodia owned the entire promontory on which the 11th-century temple sits and ordered Thailand, with whom Cambodia has repeatedly clashed over the land, to withdraw its troops.

During a ceremony at the Foreign Affairs Ministry for French lawyer Jean-Mark Sorel, Mr. Namhong said the other three lawyers and the Cambodia-nominated judge on the panel that ruled on the case—Thailand was also allowed to nominate a judge —were not available and would be honored at a later date.

“I think the government is satisfied with their work and the effort of the four and the ad hoc judge at The Hague, which led to a good result,” he said.

The ICJ awarded the promontory to Cambodia after the government in 2011 asked the court to interpret a 1962 verdict by the court that awarded Cambodia the temple itself but left ownership of the land immediately around it in dispute.

Last month’s judgment gave Cambodia the temple promontory, but it rejected Cambodia’s argument that the 1962 verdict also gave Cambodia the nearby Phnom Trop hill and settled the local border with Thailand using a colonial-era French map.

Despite the court’s order that Thailand should withdraw from the promontory, it has yet to do so.

At Saturday’s award ceremony, Mr. Namhong said Cambodia would not press Thailand on the matter owing to the political turmoil presently occupying its neighbor.

“We don’t have to do anything, but Thailand has to withdraw its troops from around Preah Vihear as the court has precisely stated,” he said. “But as you can see what the current situation in Thailand is like, we can wait a bit until the situation in Thailand returns to normal so we can talk with Thailand about withdrawing its troops.”

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