The Thailand–Cambodia Preah Vihear Temple Dispute: Its Past, Present and Future
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A Thai–Cambodian territorial dispute over the Preah Vihear temple flared up in 2008 when the Thai government co-signed a Joint Communiqué that supported Cambodia’s request to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to list the temple as a World Heritage site. This move triggered protests in Thailand and even developed to armed clashes between the two countries in the period 2008–2011. These developments undermined the conventional ASEAN approach to managing interstate conflict, as exemplified by conflict avoidance through self-restraint. Bilateral talks to manage the crisis and dispute failed, and the same happened to mediation and peacekeeping efforts by ASEAN. This regional bloc was unable to handle conflict on its own due to lack of authority, enforcement, and expertise. It was ultimately through the verdict of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the disputed land and the change of Thai government from an anti-Cambodian administration to a more pro-Cambodian one that a crisis was brought to an end. Although the dispute still continues to date, the findings of this chapter point out the possibility of its final settlement through a more effective mobilization of international expertise, knowledge, and skills, which have been made available through the course of the dispute.
KeywordsPreah Vihear temple Conflict avoidance Self-restraint International Court of Justice Boundary demarcation Confidence-building
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