Request for Interpretation of the Judgment of 15 June 1962 in the Case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand) (Cambodia v. Thailand)
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Overview of the case
On 28 April 2011, the Kingdom of Cambodia submitted to the Court, by an Application filed in the Registry, a Request for interpretation of the Judgment rendered by the Court on 15 June 1962 in the case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand). In that Judgment, the Court had ruled that “the Temple of Preah Vihear is situated in territory under the sovereignty of Cambodia” and that “Thailand is under an obligation to withdraw any military . . . forces . . . stationed . . . at the Temple, or in its vicinity on Cambodian territory”. In 2008, on Cambodia’s request, the Temple was included on the list of World Heritage sites by UNESCO. Following that inclusion, several armed incidents took place between the Parties in the frontier area close to the Temple. On the same day that it filed its Application, Cambodia, stressing the urgency and the risk of irreparable damage, also filed a Request for the indication of provisional measures. In its Order of 18 July 2011 on that Request, the Court ruled that it could exercise its power under Article 41 of the Statute and indicated provisional measures requiring, among other things, both Parties to withdraw their military personnel from a “provisional demilitarized zone” surrounding the Temple, as defined in the Order.
In the Judgment delivered by it on 11 November 2013, the Court concluded that there was a dispute between the Parties as to the meaning and scope of the 1962 Judgment. The Court then turned to the interpretation of the 1962 Judgment. It noted that the principal dispute between the Parties concerned the territorial scope of the second operative paragraph, namely the territorial extent of the “vicinity” of the Temple of Preah Vihear.
The Court considered that, in view of the reasoning in the 1962 Judgment, seen in the light of the pleadings in the original proceedings, the second operative paragraph of the 1962 Judgment required Thailand to withdraw from the whole territory of the promontory of Preah Vihear any Thai personnel stationed on that promontory at the time. Accordingly, the Court found that the term “vicinity on Cambodian territory” had to be construed as extending at least to the area where a police detachment had been stationed at the time of the original proceedings. It subsequently identified and defined the limits of that area.
The Court then examined the relationship between the second operative paragraph and the rest of the operative part. It considered that the territorial scope of the three operative paragraphs is the same: the finding in the first paragraph that “the Temple of Preah Vihear is situated in territory under the sovereignty of Cambodia” must be taken as referring, like the second and third paragraphs, to the promontory of Preah Vihear.
This overview is provided for information only and in no way involves the responsibility of the Court.