Indonesian observers accepted by Cambodia and Thailand
(22 February 2011)
Following a meeting of ASEAN in Jakarta on 22 February 2011, Cambodia and Thailand have reached an agreement that will allow Indonesian observers to operate as a third party in monitoring the disputed border region surrounding the 11th Century Preah Vihear temple. The most sustained fighting since the temple received UNESCO world heritage listing in 2008 broke out in early February this year, resulting in several fatalities of both troops and civilians, and widespread evacuations of surrounding communities. The meeting followed a fact-finding mission from an ASEAN military attaché delegation on 21 February, that visited the disputed territory. The delegation included attachés from Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Russia, Japan, France and the United States.
It is reported that up to 40 observers will be sent, predominantly military though also including civilians. The observers will not operate in a peace-keeping role, remaining unarmed, and will be placed on both the Cambodian and Thai sides of the disputed boundary. ASEAN monitors were previously deployed in 2005 to oversee disarmament in Indonesia’s Aceh province. Both countries have committed to continuing bilateral talks, including through the Joint Boundary Commission, and the next bilateral meeting is to be convened in Indonesia.
Source: ‘Thailand and Cambodia to accept monitors for border now’, BBC News, 22 February 2011; ‘Cambodia, Thailand agree on deployment of observers to disputed area’, BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific, 22 February 2011; ‘ASEAN military attaches visit Thai-Cambodian border’, BBC Monitoring Asia, 21 February 2011.