(CAMBODIA v. THAILAND)
I.C.J. Reports 15 JUNE 1962
a. The International Court of Justice delivered judgment, on the issue whether the Temple of Preah Vihear is situated in territory under the sovereignty of Cambodia, by 9 votes to 3. The International Court of Justice delivered judgment, on the issue whether Thailand is under an obligation to withdraw any military or police forces stationed at the Temple, or in its vicinity on Cambodian territory by 9 votes to 3. The International Court of Justice delivered judgment on
the issue whether Thailand is under an obligation to restore Cambodia any objects, which may have been removed from the Temple by Thai authorities by 7 votes to 5.
b. Both Cambodia and Thailand submitted claims to the ICJ regarding the disputed territory and sovereignty of the Temple of Preah Vihear located on the Thai/Cambodian borders. The ICJ heard arguments from Thai and Cambodian representatives about the disputed land and it’s historical context found in the map, Annex I to the Memorial of Cambodia, a treaty drawn up and published on behalf of the Mixed Delimitation Commission of which both Cambodia and
Thailand were found to be parties.
c. Cambodia argued that the Temple was located within the boundaries of the Cambodian territory as decided by the Thai/Cambodian Mixed Delimitation Commission. As such, Cambodia sought to force withdraw of Thai troops from the Temple area.
d. Thailand claims the map Annex I, from which all territory disputes stem, was never officially approved of by the Thai delegation. Thailand maintains that the French Commission (representing Cambodia) alone published the map. Thailand further claims that the territory upon which the Temple sits is Thai, not Cambodian.
a. Did Cambodia and Thailand adopt the Annex I map which delimited the frontier in the Preah Vihear region, making the document binding?
b. Is Thailand under an obligation to withdraw any military or police forces stationed at the Temple, or in its vicinity on Cambodian territory?
c. Is Thailand under an obligation to restore Cambodia any objects, which may have been removed from the Temple by Thai authorities?
a. The Court found that the delimitation line determined by the Franco-Siamese Mixed Commission is the official border between Cambodia and Thailand. This indicated to the Court that both Cambodia and Thailand adopted the Annex I map which delimited the frontier in the region of the Temple of Preah Vihear. As such, Annex I is binding and Thailand must respect the borders established by the document. The Court reasons that Thailand had every opportunity to
contest the borders established by Annex I, but did not, even with ample knowledge that the Temple would be included within the Cambodian border.
b. The Court held that because Thailand is party to the territorial agreement between Cambodia and Thailand, it must withdraw troops from the Temple of Preah Vihear, as it is not Thai property. Because the Temple was clearly labeled on the Annex I map of the territory in question, and because it clearly sits within Cambodia territory, Thailand could not make the defense that she had authority to station guards at this location. Further, the Court finds Thailand’s defense insufficient on all accounts because Thai authorities did not raise questions about Annex I, and it did not contest the location and ownership of the Temple until 1958, a full 50 years after the Court established that Thailand consented to the agreement with Cambodian and French authorities. The Court rejects Thailand’s claim that Annex I was used only for cartographical reasons because no other maps were available. The use of Annex I, which
clearly marked Temple Preah Vihear as the property of Cambodia, could have been contested for it’s accuracy with Cambodian representatives. As Thailand never took such necessary steps to rectify the cartographical errors, the claim is unfounded.
a. The international law elements of the case are territorial sovereignty, and the power of treaties.
b. The Court weighed heavily the historical context of the creation of Annex I in making its judgment. It is clear that the Court found it important to first clarify the frontier lines between Cambodia and Thailand before deciding the issue of sovereignty. Because one could not be correctly judged without the other, the principles of subject-matter jurisdiction, temporal jurisdiction and territorial jurisdiction are all important in this case.
c. The power of treaties held Thailand accountable for the border dispute and allowed Cambodia to expel Thai forces from the Temple.
The Court’s ruling in this case settled the border dispute between Cambodia and Thailand over the location of Temple Preah Vihear. Further, the ruling put a freeze on Thailand’s use of troops in the Cambodian territory as well as proscribed that Thailand return to Cambodia any items taken from the Temple after the map Annex I was consented upon by both nations.
Case Concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1962.