On the 17th anniversary of the Paris Peace Agreement on Thursday, it was suggested that the UN-backed international treaty, which laid down the framework for peace in Cambodia after decades of war, might now provide an opportunity for the government to resolve the border dispute with Thailand.
SRP lawmaker Keat Sokhun echoed the recent opposition party contention that the Agreement provides a legal instrument and appropriate basis for the resolution of the border dispute with Thailand.
Bilateral talks with Thailand are unlikely to produce results soon, and the treaty, signed on Oct 23, 1991, is still valid and the 19 signatory partiesand countries, which include Thailand, should abide by the Agreement’s article 18 regarding respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cambodia, he said Thursday.
Keat Sokhun added, however, that the Cambodian government should also respect the treaty. The government has abolished the national holiday commemorating the signing of the Agreement and has not properly respected the mandate of the UN Human Rights Representative in Cambodia, which was also agreed upon in 1991, he said.
In 2004, National Liberation Day on January 7, which marks the ousting of the Khmer Rouge by Vietnamese-backed forces in 1979, was chosen to replace the holiday commemorating the Agreement.
Chea Vannath, former director of the Center of Social Development, said civil society organizations had suggested the use of the Paris Peace Agreement as a legal basis for negotiations with Thailand early on.
She added that the other aspects of the Agreement, such as the protection of human rights and economic development benefiting all, had not been achieved.
While Cambodia is currently making economic progress, the widening gap between rich and poor is “against the spirit of the Accords,” Chea Vannath said.
Koy Kuong, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, said that Cambodia would not use the Agreement in its negotiations with Thailand, as both countries wanted to solve the problem bilaterally.
“We don’t want to go a third party yet,” he said.
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the government had not forgotten the signing of the Agreement, adding that the national holiday had been abolished simply because there were too many holidays already.
“We always think of this event, and we mainstream it into the education system and show it on TV and radio because it is the beginning of democracy in our country,” he added.