Supalak in The Nation:
Cambodia has officially occupied the Hindu temple for 46 years. Before the application to list it as a World Heritage site, nobody doubted the temple was under Cambodia’s sovereignty.
In its judgement on the merits of the case, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 1962, by nine votes to three, found that the temple of Preah Vihear was “situated in territory under the sovereignty of Cambodia”.
The wording seemed to be clear that the temple was under the sovereignty of Cambodia, but many people raised legal questions about whether Cambodia’s sovereignty covers only the ruins or includes its base and surrounding area.
BP: I think there are some questions from the judgment about the surrounding areas, but not on the territory where the temple is located.

Sovereignty is the burning issue for the case since the opposition has alleged that allowing Cambodia’s application to take the temple’s base and surrounding area into the World Heritage site could be deemed a loss of Thai sovereignty to Cambodia.
To learn about the rationale behind the argument, it is necessary to go back to 1962 when the Thai government interpreted the ICJ’s ruling.
By consequence of the ruling, Thailand was under an obligation to withdraw any military or police forces, or other guards or keepers, stationed by the Kingdom at the temple or its vicinity on Cambodian territory.
In practice, the Cabinet in 1962 ordered the withdrawal of troops from the temple and its vicinity and drew a new line to determine the boundary for the temple.
Some academics and opposition Democrat Party members argue that the then foreign minister Thanat Khoman sent a note to the then acting secretary-general of the United Nations, U Thant, to express his government’s disagreement and reserve the right, if any, to resume its sovereignty over the temple.
“His Majesty’s government desires to make an express reservation regarding whatever rights Thailand has, or may have in future, to recover the Temple of Pra Viharn by having resource to any existing or subsequently applicable legal process, and to register a protest against the decision of the International Court of Justice awarding to the Temple of Phra Viharn to Cambodia,” Thanat said in his letter.
Thanat did not refer to any legal principle to back up his reservation. Unfortunately, a map annexed with his note to U Thant said clearly: “The map representing the area where the Temple of Pra Viharn is situated, over which Thailand has ‘relinquished’ her sovereignty.”
The Foreign Ministry’s Treaties and Legal Affairs Department and the military’s Survey Department since then have regarded the 1962 Cabinet’s resolution and the annexed map as their guideline. They deemed that Thailand had given up her sovereignty over the temple, its base and 250,000 square metres of surrounding area to Cambodia.
Another legal question: is the inherent right and the reservation made by Thanat still valid? Some legal experts say Thailand has the right and the reservation exists permanently in accordance with Article 60 of the statute of the ICJ.
However, the interpretation of Article 60 by some academics is misleading, since it only says the judgement is final and without appeal. In the event of a dispute as to the meaning or scope of the judgement, the court shall construe it upon the request of any party.
There is not a single word mentioning the inherent right and its prescription.
In fact, the parties in the dispute have the right to revise the court’s ruling but Article 61 of the ICJ’s statute suggests that any application for revision may be made after the lapse of 10 years from the date of the judgement.
De facto, Thailand retreated from the temple 46 years ago. The right to resume Thai sovereignty has no solid legal grounds to back it up.
BP: Finally! This is what I have been harping on about for the last week. Article 60 doesn’t help and the right of revision under Article 61 has long expired. I am grateful for Supalak’s translation of the note annexed with the map. Does anyone have the Thai text? Or even better a scan of the original note?
btw, Prachatai has an interesting article with a Q and A on Preah Vihear.