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IBRU: Centre for Borders Research

Boundary news

Boundary news Headlines

Thailand calls for observers to remain outside of disputed area

(20 April 2011)

Following a meeting of ASEAN on 11 April 2011, the Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa has stated that Indonesia will not place military observers within the disputed area of the Cambodia-Thai border that has led to recent conflict in the region. Following the dispute surrounding the Preah Vihear Temple in February 2011 that led to several deaths, ASEAN agreed to send observers to the region to prevent further conflict. Indonesia is currently the ASEAN chair, and has pushed Cambodia and Thailand to allow it to send observers to the region, as an alternative to UN intervention which Thailand has stood firmly against. It has also requested that the two countries resume bilateral talks under the Joint Boundary Commission (JBC). The JBC talks resumed earlier in April in Bogor, Indonesia.

Thailand has remained adamant that the dispute is a bilateral issue, and that outside parties should not become involved. Mr. Natalegawa reaffirmed that the observer team would not constitute a military mission, and would not wear military uniforms while also remaining unarmed. Thailand set forth several conditions for the observers, including that the mission would have to follow any recommendations set by the Thai side and that they “must not undertake any action which would be contrary to the Thai constitution or violate Thai sovereignty.” Further, the Thai Prime Minister has cited the relative peace since the February skirmishes as proof that third party observers are not required.

Source: ‘Indonesian observers not to enter disputed area on Thai-Cambodian border’, BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific, 12 April 2011; ‘Thailand/Cambodia: JBC meeting in Indonesia ended smoothly’, Thai News Service, 12 April 2011