UN court backs Cambodia sovereignty over disputed area around 1,000-year-old temple

Ruling says Thailand 'under an obligation to withdraw from territory'

The United Nations' highest court has ruled that Cambodia has sovereignty over a disputed area around a 1,000-year-old temple, in an attempt to settle a long-simmering border dispute between Cambodia and Thailand.

In a unanimous ruling, the International Court of Justice said that a 1962 ruling by its judges gave Cambodia sovereignty over the Preah Vihear promontory and says Thailand was therefore "under an obligation to withdraw from that territory the Thai military or police forces or other guards of keepers that were stationed there."

Cambodia had asked the court to give an interpretation of its 1962 ruling that gave the Preah Vihear temple to Cambodia because it failed to stop military skirmishes around the site.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said after the ruling: "It's good enough."

When the court granted Cambodia sovereignty over the temple in 1962 it said Thai forces were obliged to withdraw from the temple "or in its vicinity on Cambodian territory."

Cambodia went back to the court in 2011, following several clashes between its army and Thai forces to ask exactly what judges meant by "vicinity" in 1962.

The court did not draw any new maps, but said the promontory is bordered by steep slopes on most sides and to the north a border line drawn up in 1907 by a commission of French officials.

Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said the verdict included "satisfactory results to both sides," adding the two neighbours will work together to implement it.

Thailand's ambassador to the Netherlands, Virachai Plasai, said Cambodia did not get all it wanted, saying judges only delimited "small areas" around the temple.

Close to the border, Cambodian national Mann Vanna, 55, said she was happy with the decision.

"This ruling I hope will end the long dispute between Cambodia and Thailand, and that the Thais will respect this verdict," he said, his eyes filling with tears. "This ruling will end the black blood that has flowed from the people of both countries. Thailand has to respect it."

Soldiers from both countries were near the temple over the weekend ahead of the announcement of the judgement at the court's headquarters in The Hague.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation put the temple, perched on a rocky plateau overlooking Thailand and Cambodia, on its world heritage list in 2008.

It called it "an outstanding masterpiece of Khmer architecture, in terms of plan, decoration and relationship to the spectacular landscape environment."

But the listing - intended to help protect the site - instead led to an escalation of long-simmering tensions between Cambodia and Thailand over the 1962 ownership ruling.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
footballHe started just four months ago
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect