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IBRU: Centre for Borders Research

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ICJ indicates provisional measures around the Temple of Preah Vihear

(18 July 2011)

On 18 July 2011 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) accepted Cambodia's application for provisional measures in its long-standing dispute with neighbouring Thailand over their land boundary around the Temple of Preah Vihear. In its decision, the ICJ accepted Cambodia's argument that a dispute exists with Thailand over the meaning and scope of the Court's 1962 decision that awarded sovereignty over the temple to Cambodia. It also held that the military confrontations that have flared around the temple site in recent years could reoccur despite a recently agreed cease-fire and that such skirmishes may cause irreparable damage to the temple itself. Likewise the ICJ agreed to indicate provisional measures.

Without prejudice to its pending decision on interpretation, the ICJ defined a provisional demilitarised area around the temple site that will be off-limits for any military personnel from both neighbouring states. All military forces are requested to leave the provisional demiliatarised zone and to refrain from any military activity directed within the zone. However, the ICJ held that non-military administrative personnel would be allowed within the demilitarised area, which may include armed police forces. The ICJ did indicate that observers from the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), an organisation that has been working to mediate the dispute, would be allowed access into the zone.

Since the ICJ rejected Thailand's request to remove the case from its docket, Cambodia's request for interpretation of the 1962 decision will now move to the merits phase.

Source: 'Order of 18 July 2011, Request for Interpretation of the Judgment of 15 June 1962 in the Case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand) and Request for the indication of Provisional Measures' General List No. 151, International Court of Justice, 18 July 2011.