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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Martin of Coldplay performs live for fans at Enmore Theatre on June 19, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
music
Sport
Dave Mackay lifts the FA Cup in 1967 having skippered Spurs to victory
football
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
Arts and Entertainment
As depicted in Disney's Robin Hood, King John was cowardly, cruel, avaricious and incompetent
film
Life and Style
Travis Kalanick, the co-founder of Uber, is now worth $5.3bn
tech
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

Ashdown Group: Client Services Executive - Enfield, North London

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Client Services Executive - Enfield, North London ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn