Friday, May 10, 2013

ICJ tipped to 'decline to rule'

 10 May, 2013
Bangkok Post

A legal expert is predicting the International Court of Justice (ICJ) will decline to rule on the disputed "vicinity" area around the Preah Vihear temple.

Thammasat University law lecturer Jaturon Tirawat told a seminar yesterday Thailand had several advantages in the case that place it in a stronger position than Cambodia.

Cambodia asked the ICJ in 2011 to interpret its 1962 ruling on the Preah Vihear dispute. That judgement awarded the temple itself to Cambodia, but did not rule on the area around the temple.

Thailand and Cambodia presented oral statements to The Hague-based court on April 15-19. A decision is expected in October.

Mr Jaturon said it was rare for a winning party to return to the ICJ to seek an interpretation of a ruling, and the court may look on this unfavourably.

The judges may see this as a case of the winning party wanting to gain more, Mr Jaturon told the "Preah Vihear Temple Case: Looking Ahead" seminar organised by Chulalongkorn University's faculty of law yesterday.

The time gap between the original case and the interpretation request also makes it difficult for the judges, as the original decision was made by a different panel more than half a century ago, Mr Jaturon said.

If Cambodia made the request within three years of the 1962 ruling, he said, things would be different as the judges who made the ruling would have been able to explain the verdict.

The current judges would have to be careful about interpreting a case which they had not personally ruled on previously, he said.

In addition, under ICJ regulations classified documents can be disclosed after 50 years. This means Thailand was able to use many important documents to support its argument during last month's oral hearing.
The academic said he was confident the ICJ would not deliver a ruling on the 4.6-square-kilometre disputed area as requested by Cambodia.

Former foreign minister Surakiart Sathirathai urged both countries to turn conflict into cooperation.
He suggested Cambodia withdraw its request from the court and that both countries jointly develop the temple as a tourist site. They could then leave the border problems to be settled by the Joint Boundary Commission, he said.

"The withdrawal of the case from the court could be done after the Cambodian general election on July 28 in order not to affect the election results," Mr Surakiart suggested.

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