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PacNet #19 – Deal with Preah Vihear Peacefully

The 11th-century Preah Vihear temple is a geopolitical nightmare. It clearly belongs to Cambodia but Thailand refuses to accept this. A decision was reached June 15, 1962, in which the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled 9-3 that the Hindu temple was situated within Cambodia, adding that the structure was “an outstanding masterpiece of Khmer architecture.” By a vote of 7-5, the court also declared that Thailand must return any antiquities removed from the temple. However, in the spirit of neighborly relations, Prince Sihanouk announced that Thailand was free to keep antiquities stripped from the temple. That was 1963. Despite these rulings, Thailand refuses to accept the court’s decision. Instead, the country has opted for war over dialogue and negotiation.