What exactly was the World Court’s ruling and Thailand’s legal reaction?
Basically, the court, in June, 1962, ruled that the temple belongs to Cambodia, leaving unsolved questions over disputed surrounding areas. The Thai government at that time accepted the ruling with clenched jaws and reserved its right to renew its fight for sovereignty if future legal opportunities arise.
What were the court’s key reasons?
The ruling was based on a map drawn primarily by French colonial officers in the late 1900s and decades of Thailand’s non-objection to the map that put the temple on Cambodian soil. The map was an integral part of a treaty whose benefits for Thailand, Bangkok had never complained about.
Does the Samak administration’s decision to support Cambodia’s push for registration of the temple as a World Heritage site compromise Thailand’s sovereignty?
The decision, while obviously being overly politicised, was rash and uncalled for. It can be argued that the Joint Communique signed by Noppadon and the Cambodians to support the World Heritage nomination undermines decades of Thailand’s “silent” protests against Phnom Penh’s victory, and whatever right Bangkok may still hold to re-file the case.
Does Thailand still have that right?
The Samak government is holding on for dear life on Article 61 of the World Court regulation which states that “No application for revision may be made after the lapse of ten years from the date of the judgement”. (In Cambodia’s application document to Unesco, this article is highlighted, with “LAPSE OF TEN YEARS” in capital letters.)
In his scathing attacks on the government in Parliament yesterday, Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva pointed out Article 60 of the court’s regulation. This article allows warring parties to reserve doubts and observations concerning rulings and it does not spell out any timeframe.
Which article carries stronger weight is open for debate, but Abhisit was right in saying that Article 61 should be cited by Cambodian lawyers, not Noppadon.
BP: Right to re-file? The ICJ decision was final and there is no legal dispute in relation to Preah Vihear. The Surayud Government informed UNESCO that “Cambodia and Thailand agree that Cambodia will propose the site for formal inscription on the World Heritage List at the 32nd Session of the World Heritage Committee in 2008 with the active support of Thailand.” Does Tulsie think this was “rash and uncalled for”?
ICJ Statute:

Article 60

The judgment is final and without appeal. In the event of dispute as to the meaning or scope of the judgment, the Court shall construe it upon the request of any party.

Article 61

1. An application for revision of a judgment may be made only when it is based upon the discovery of some fact of such a nature as to be a decisive factor, which fact was, when the judgment was given, unknown to the Court and also to the party claiming revision, always provided that such ignorance was not due to negligence.
2. The proceedings for revision shall be opened by a judgment of the Court expressly recording the existence of the new fact, recognizing that it has such a character as to lay the case open to revision, and declaring the application admissible on this ground.
3. The Court may require previous compliance with the terms of the judgment before it admits proceedings in revision.
4. The application for revision must be made at latest within six months of the discovery of the new fact.
5. No application for revision may be made after the lapse of ten years from the date of the judgment.
BP: Is there any dispute about “THE COURT, by nine votes to three, Finds that the temple of Preah Vihear is situated in territory under the sovereignty of Cambodia”. In 1962, the Thai Foreign Minister Thanat Khoman sent a Note to formally inform the United Nations “of Thailand’s acceptance of Cambodia’s title over the Temple building proper”. I don’t see any dispute. However, on the off-chance there is, how exactly does it affect Thailand’s ability to use Article 60 when the UNESCO Convention states “The inclusion of a property situated in a territory, sovereignty or jurisdiction over which is claimed by more than one State shall in no way prejudice the rights of the parties to the dispute.”
It continues:
Is “joint nomination, made on more equal grounds” better and possible as claimed by the Democrats?
Some experts say that joint nomination is the best way, and should be a role model for this kind of dispute in Thai-Cambodian relations. Unfortunately, Noppadon and the government as a whole failed to explore this possibility.
Whereas Thailand being able or unable to “reserve” its rights regarding Preah Vihear is somewhat abstract and has much to do with “what ifs?”, Noppadon can be squarely criticised for not going for this best option for Thailand.
BP: Wrong! Noppadon explained to NationRadio yesterday that the Foreign Ministry proposed this in 2006, but Cambodia rejected this as the ICJ judgment gave Cambodia sovereignty – WMA audio here. The Surayud government accepted this – also see here.
Also, The Nation even states in another article today that Cambodia rejected a joint application, so why does Tuslie say there was a failure to explore this option