Sunday, June 26, 2011

Thailand withdraw from WHC

Aerial view of Preah Vihear temple

Monsters and critics
Jun 26, 2011,

Bangkok - Thailand has withdrawn from the United Nations World Heritage Convention to protest a decision to consider a management plan for a disputed ancient temple, reports said Sunday.

A committee on Saturday agreed to consider Cambodia's plan for the Preah Vihear temple despite Thai objections. Thailand claims that an adjacent 4.6-square-kilometre plot of land is still part of a border demarcation dispute.

'I talked to the delegation and we agreed to withdraw as a member of the World Heritage Convention,' said Suwit Khunkitti, head of the delegation negotiating with the World Heritage Committee of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, The Nation online news service reported.

But a senior Thai government source in Bangkok said the resignation was not effective immediately.

'There is a process that has to be gone through and it takes time,' a Thai foreign ministry official said. 'Most likely it will need to be decided by the incoming government,' said the official, who asked to remain anonymous.

Thailand is gearing up for a general election on July 3.

UNESCO's World Heritage Committee was discussing new sites in Paris last week and management plans for existing ones.

Cambodia pressed it to proceed with its management plan for the 11th-century Hindu temple, which was named a Heritage site in 2008 over Thai objections.

Since the listing of Preah Vihear, Thai and Cambodian troops have clashed on several occasions along the border, most recently in April when 16 people died.

The temple ruins on a cliff that defines the Thai-Cambodian border has been a bone of contention between the two countries for six decades.

In 1962, the International Court of Justice ruled that the temple was on Cambodia soil, but it stopped short of ruling on where the border lies in the disputed area.

While Thailand has accepted the 1962 ruling, it claims a 4.6-square-kilometre area adjacent to the temple, which is also claimed by Cambodia.
Thailand leaves World Heritage Convention
By The Nation

Thailand has withdrawn from the World Heritage Convention to protest against the World Heritage Committee's decision to consider Cambodia's management plan of Preah Vihear Temple.
Ads by Google
Teach English in BurmaEarn While you Travel. Access to 25,000 job opportunities
Ukrainian WomanDazzling Ukrainian Women. Close to Your Heart. Deep in Your
Sexy Vietnamese WomenVietnamese Dating & Singles Site. Find the Perfect Vietnamese Woman!
Suwit Khunkitti, head of the Thai delegation negotiating with the World Heritage Committee in Paris, announced at 11:55 pm Saturday, that his delegation had informed the World Heritage Committee that Thailand resigned as a member country to the convention.

Suwit, the natural resources and environment minister, said the Thai delegation had to make the move after the committee ignored Thailand's concern that the consideration of the management plan would complicate Thai-Cambodian border dispute.

"They ignored it and they did not care about our sovereignty and territory," Suwit said.

"They cared only about the conservation of the temple. Actually, we told them that if Cambodia withdraws its troops from the temple, the conservation can go ahead. The troop withdrawal will allow the conservation to be done. No one will interfere with it. No damages will be done if no one fires from the site."

Suwit said the Thai delegation had tried to no avail to explain the need to defer the meeting on the management plan to a later date.

"So, I think that we should not take a risk. If we take a risk, the vote of the committee may affect us and affect our sovereignty. I talked to the delegation and we agreed to withdraw as a member of the World Heritage convention," Suwit said.

Following the withdrawal, the World Heritage Committee could no longer force Thailand to compile to its decision, Suwit added.

He said he believed the committee would not consider the management plan after Thailand's withdrawal but if it still goes ahead with the consideration, its decision would have no effect on Bangkok.

Cambodia wants to press ahead with the World Heritage Committee's meeting on the management of 4.6-square-km space around the ancient Hindu temple.

The World Court ruled in 1962 that the temple situated on the Thai-Cambodian border, belongs to Cambodia, but stopped short of making a ruling on the ownership of land surrounding the ancient temple.

No comments: