Sunday, June 19, 2011

Thailand to push for delay of WHC ruling


Newspaper section: News

  • Thailand hopes Unesco's World Heritage Committee will delay consideration of Cambodia's management plan for Preah Vihear temple for at least another year.

    TROOPING THE COLOUR: Cambodian troops take part in a military exercise called the Ayara Guardian 2011 at Thanarat Camp in Prachuap Khiri Khan’s Pran Buri district. Troopers from 12 countries in the Asia and the Pacific, including Thailand, have taken part in the exercise supported by the United States Pacific Command.

    Asda Jayanama, a member of the delegation representing Thailand in the case, said he was confident members would agree to postpone the deliberation after Thailand had lobbied hard on several occasions.

    "We gave them the reason that if both countries have no mutual cooperation, [the implementation of] the management plan will not happen," said Mr Asda.

    "We can't compromise on this issue because the plan trespassed on Thai territory."

    Mr Asda spoke to the Bangkok Post before he left Bangkok for Paris yesterday to attend Unesco's 35th WHC meeting convened today.

    He was accompanied by Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti, who was assigned by Deputy Prime Minister Trairong Suwankiri to lead the Thai delegation in the WHC dispute.

    Thailand wants the WHC to delay its consideration of Cambodia's plan until border demarcation is completed. The meeting will conclude on June 29.

    Cambodia's plan for the 11th-century Hindu temple is due to be the seventh of the 21 items to be discussed at the meeting on Thursday.

    The Preah Vihear temple border conflict flared up after Cambodia submitted an application to have the temple inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 2008. Thailand objected to the plan at the WHC meeting in Brazil last year, reasoning it trespassed on Thai territory. The meeting agreed to put off consideration for another year.

    A Foreign Ministry source said the Paris meeting would consider "the state of conservation" in each agenda.

    The meeting might ask Thailand to explain the reason for the postponement request, the source said.

    He said if the meeting decided not to postpone consideration of Cambodia's plan, Thailand would ask the cabinet to withdraw its membership from the WHC on grounds that the international body failed to promote peace and stability in contravention of its original principles.

    ML Wanwipa Charoonroj, of Thammasat University's Thai Studies Institute, who has closely monitored the dispute, agreed with Thailand withdrawing from the WHC if it failed to postpone consideration of Cambodia's plan.

    "It is the most appropriate way for Thailand to react to the international organisation's failure," she said.

    "We have seen poor and unfair management of Unesco's WHC since it agreed to inscribe Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site despite the fact the two countries still have border conflicts."

    She said Unesco was now an organisation to promote war among countries instead of promoting peace.Published: 19/06/2011 at 12:00 AM

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