International Court of Justice Sets May Border Hearing Date

The International Court of Justice has set a late May hearing date for Cambodia to explain why the UN court should take immediate steps to restrain Thai forces along its northern border.

The government filed its request for “provisional measures” a week ago today, amid deadly fighting between Thai and Cambodian troops over contested territory along Oddar Meanchey province’s border with Thailand. A tentative cease-fire there has held since Tuesday.

Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong, speaking with reporters at Phnom Penh International Air­port on his way to Jakarta to attend an Asean summit, said the government had assembled a team of Australian, British, French and US legal advisers to prepare for the May 30 to 31 hearing at The Hague.

“The court will figure out what kind of immediate measures the court will use in order to guarantee the cease-fire and peace along the border,” he said.

At the heart of the case is a 1962 ICJ ruling that awarded the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple to Cambodia. Based on that ruling, Cambodia wants the court to tell Thailand to withdraw its troops from the area.

More importantly, Cambodia asked the ICJ to decide what the ruling said about who owned land next to the temple. Cambodia hopes the court will use the same colonial-era map used to award it the temple to now award it the adjacent land.

Thai Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said his government appointed Vira­chai Plasai, Thailand’s ambassador to The Hague, to lead its legal team.

Mr Namhong said the border dispute would also be a focus of this weekend’s meeting of Asean leaders, and that he planned to meet tom­orrow with the foreign ministers of Thai­land and Indonesia.

According to the Bangkok Post, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejja­jiva had no plans to meet Prime Minister Hun Sen there, however.

“[Mr Abhisit] has been scheduled to meet with the leaders of several Asean [nations]” Thai spokes­man Panitan Wat­tanayagorn said, declining to name which.

   (Additional reporting by Zsombor Peter)






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