Cambodia and Thailand border dispute escalates

Updated On: Feb 11, 2010

Tensions between Cambodia and Thailand increased this week, amidst warnings from Prime Minister Hun Sen that Cambodia will file a complaint to the International Court of Justice that its neighbour, Thailand is encroaching on its territory. The disputed land is located near the landmark of the Preah Vihear Temple, in northern Cambodia. Preah Vihear temple was awarded to Cambodia by the International Court of Justice in 1962, however at the time a ruling on the territory surrounding it was not made.  The historic adversaries currently share an 800 km border, which parts of were never clearly defined due to the fact that the two countries use different maps.

Cambodia-Thai relations became especially tense in 2008, when Thailand first backed, then opposed the Cambodian’s attempt to have the 11th-century temple declared a World Heritage Site. Late in 2009, relations took a turn for the worse when Cambodia named exiled Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra an advisor on economic affairs. Cambodia’s refusal to extradite Thaksin to Thailand, further inflamed the situation.

“Cambodia wants to solve this territorial dispute by filing a complaint to the international court at The Hague”, Mr Hun Sen said on Tuesday. In contrast, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva expressed his desire that the matter be instead settled via negotiations, as he claimed that the issue was beyond the scope of the authority of the world court. 

Cambodia has recently also lashed out at Google, over its supposedly “radically misleading” map depicting the Cambodia-Thai border. In a letter written by the secretary of state of the Cambodia’s Council of Ministers, Svay Sitha, he accused Google of being “professionally irresponsible”, as its Earth map portrayed virtually half of the Preah Vihear temple as being in Thailand. In response Google sent a letter to the government, saying it would be “carefully reviewing” the case.


TODAY, “Cambodia at the end of its tether”, February 11, 2010, http://www.todayonline.com/World/EDC100211-0000092/Cambodia-at-the-end-of-its-tether

ABC, “Google Enters Fray in Thai-Cambodia Border Dispute”, February 10, 2010, http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory?id=9797440

Reuters, “Cambodia blasts Google map of disputed Thai Border”, February 5, 2010, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSSGE61406G20100205

Bangkok Post, “Hun Sen ups stakes in border stand-off”, February 11, 2010, http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/32673/hun-sen-ups-stakes-in-border-stand-off

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