As previewed in my post of 29 October, the International Court of Justice yesterday handed down a unanimous decision in relation to the Preah Vihear dispute that affirmed the court's 1962 decision awarding sovereignty over the temple to Cambodia and clarified the extent to which this sovereignty extended over land surrounding the temple. The key points of the judgment is contained in paragraph 98 of the decision.
The court effectively ruled that the topographic 'peninsula' on which the Preah Vihear temple is built is Cambodian territory while land beyond the peninsula is Thai. Some sense of this geographic situation is revealed in the aerial photo/map accompanying the BBC's report on the court's decision.
The practical result is that the Thai Government is now obligated to remove its troops and other government representatives from areas close to the temple.
Politically, the ICJ decision comes close to being a 'win-win' result for the two governments, and it has been welcomed as such by Thai and Cambodian ministers, with both sides suggesting future talks to resolve outstanding issues.
There is little appetite in Cambodia for further confrontation on this issue. But the political atmosphere in Thailand (and especially Bangkok) is febrile, as debate over the issue of amnesties for those involved in the 2010 Yellow Shirt-Red Shirt protests continues to generate strong feelings. Ultra-patriotic groups may try to gain political advantage from the ICJ's decision by attacking the Thai Government as being weak in protecting national interests.
Photo by Flickr user spiderman (Frank).