ANALYSIS Will the Maps Have Their Days In Court? (The Annex I map vs. the unilateral and secret map)
Phnom Penh, February 28, 2011 AKP –
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) special envoy Koichiro Matsuura, in Bangkok on 25 February 2011 listened to the very unusual assurance given by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva that “Thailand would settle the conflict with Cambodia over the Hindu temple of Preah Vihear’s inscription before the World Heritage Committee’s next meeting in Bahrain in the middle of this year,” as reported by The Nation on 26 February under the title: Unesco told to delay consideration. Moreover, as reported by The Bangkok Post Online the same day, under the title: Unesco special envoy supports ‘Thai stance’, among other things the FM spokesman Thani Thongphakdee said “The minister also told Mr. Matsuura about the history of the Preah Vihear problem that stems from both countries using different maps. Thailand has stuck to an international principle of using a watershed as a border line but Cambodia has relied on a map made by France.”
Is it a Thai poor PR?
Taking into account the two statements by PM Abhisit and FM Kasit, Thailand hinted at the settlement of the conflict based on the “Cambodian map” or the “Thai map”. It sounds as the “Cambodian map” and the “Thai map” will have their days in court soon. Whether this is true or this is only a poor public relation campaign stunt by Thailand remains to be seen.
FM Kasit Piromya of Thailand as well as PM Abhisit Vejjajiva many times before FM Kasit, told the press and foreign or international dignitaries including lastly the UNESCO special envoy Koichiro Matsuura who is also a former Unesco director-general, “about the history of the Preah Vihear problem that stems from both countries using different maps,” over which I have no quarrel with them. It is very rare for PM Abhisit and FM Kasit to say exactly what it is. I was waiting until he said something of this nature to a prominent international dignitary as a witness to voice my opinion. Yes, the problem stems from both countries using different maps.
There is no doubt in my mind that those who have heard PM Abhisit and FM Kasit speaking would have naturally and instantaneously asked the simplest question oblivious for a moment to the spin that comes next, and that spin is “Thailand has stuck to an international principle of using a watershed as a border line but Cambodia has relied on a map made by France”. The question is: what is the map used by Cambodia, and what is the map used by Thailand?
The answer may lead the International Community to conclude that Thailand is committing crime against humanity
By answering the question using historical, legal, and international facts and truth, the International Community including UNESCO and ASEAN may come to the conclusion that Thailand must be responsible for tensions, conflicts, armed clashes, losses of lives, destruction of property, damages to Cambodian cultural heritage and to the world cultural heritage as the Temple of Preah Vihear has been inscribed on the World Heritage List since 7 July 2008, in its attempt to change history, to alter the international frontier line, and to take possession of the territory under the sovereignty of Cambodia. For these reasons it seemed to be not going overboard, nor becoming unreasonable to raise the question of accusing Thailand for crimes against humanity.
First, let’s talk about the map used by Cambodia
It is a map, the “Dangrek map,” known as Annex I to the Memorial of Cambodia or Annex I map at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Case Concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear, (Cambodia vs. Thailand) Judgment 15 June 1962. Here are three (3) paragraphs of the ICJ merits that deal with the watershed line and the frontier line:
“Whereas the general character of the frontier established by Article I (of a boundary treaty dated 13 February 1904) was, along the Dangrek range, to be a watershed line, the exact course of this frontier was, by virtue of Article 3 to be delimited by a Frenco-Siamese Mixed Commission,” p 17.
“Amongst these (the eleven maps) was one of that part of the Dangrek range in which the Temple is situated, and on it was traced a frontier line purporting to the outcome of the work of delimitation and showing the whole Preah Vihear promontory, with the Temple area, as being on the Cambodian side,” p 20.
“If therefore the delimitation carried in respect of the eastern Dangrek sector established or was intended to establish a watershed line, this map purported to show such a line,” p21
Area of the Temple of Preah Vihear in the Dangrek range of mountains (extrapolation from the map recognized by the International Court of Justice, 15 June 1962)
.If and when it is necessary to explain to PM Abhisit and FM Kasit that the frontier line on the Dangrek map is the watershed line at the time of the delimitation (1906), which is not the same watershed line in 1962 when Thailand as Claimant intended to convince the Court that the Temple of Preah Vihear is on the Thai side of the watershed line, not the same watershed line in 2011 that Google Earth is putting the photo on the internet, it is my obligation to do so, and certainly I will do it. I have understood that the third paragraph here above mentioned said it all about the frontier line on the Dangrek map or Annex I map and the watershed line in 1906 at the time of the delimitation, more than half of a century before the 1962 Court case.
Moreover, it is well within the reach of ordinary and reasonable people to follow the ICJ Merits to find whether the frontier line on the Annex I map is legally binding on both Cambodia and Thailand or not. On this critically important point of the Dangrek map or Annex I map and the frontier line on it, the Court stated:
“The real question, therefore, which is the essential one in this case, is whether the Parties did adopt the Annex I map, and the line indicated on it, as representing the outcome of the work of delimitation of the frontier in the region of Preah Vihear, thereby conferring on it a binding character,” p 22. The court sees:
“That the Siamese authorities, by their conduct acknowledged the receipt, and recognized the character, of these maps, and what they purported to represent, is shown by the action of the Minister of Interior, Prince Damrong, in thanking the French Minister in Bangkok, and in asking him for another fifteen copies of each of them for transmission to Siamese provincial Governors,” p 24. In addition the Court sees that the Dangrek map or Annex I map (amongst a series of eleven maps completed in late autumn of 1907 under the 13 February 1904 Convention) has been internationally communicated and therefore, presumed to be acquainted and recognized by recipients:
“It is clear from the record that the publication and communication of the eleven maps referred to earlier including the Annex I map was something of an occasion,” p 22.
“The maps were given wide publicity in all technically interested quarters by being also communicated to the leading geographical societies in important countries, and to other circles generally interested; to the Siamese legations accredited to the British, German, Russian and the United States Governments; and to all the members of the Mixed Commission, French and Siamese,” p 23.
“In 1937, even after Thailand’s own survey in 1934-1935, the Siamese Royal Survey Department produced a map showing Preah Vihear as lying in Cambodia,” p 27.
Second, let’s see what do I know and what does the world know about Thailand map?
It is a secret map. I know and the world knows that the Thai Royal Survey Department produced this secret map that the Thai delegation to the World Heritage Committee at Christchurch, New Zealand in 2007 communicated for the first time to outsiders who are members of the Committee.
It is a unilateral map. It is not the result of any Convention or Treaty between two contracting parties. This unilateral map alters the international frontier line recognized by Thailand (then Siam) under the 13 February 1904 Convention. This is the falsification of an international document. This is totally in contravention with international norms.
It is produced during a period of time known in recent history as the genocidal regime of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, taking into account the inscription on this secret and unilateral map that nominates the Cambodian side of the boundary as “Democratic Kampuchea,” the official name of genocidal regime of the Khmer Rouge (April 1975 – January 1979).
The map has been kept as state secret by Thailand. A warning on the secret and unilateral map in Thai language said: “This map is a state secret. Users must exercise extreme caution. It could damage the national interests.”
This is how much I know about the “Thai map,” referred to by PM Abhisit and FM Kasit.
I would welcome all the explanations from the Thai side, and from whoever having more knowledge of this secret, unilateral, and falsified map.
Between the Cambodian Annex I map and the Thai unilateral map the difference is staggering
The point I want to make here is the fundamental difference between the “Cambodian map” and the “Thai map” referred to by PM Abhisit and FM Kasit when they communicated with the UNESCO special envoy, Mr. Koichiro Matsuura in the context of the historical, legal and international facts and truth. There is no possible comparison anyone could think of.
Thai military actions based on the unilateral map had caused death and injury to many hundreds of people, destruction of property, displacement of many thousands of people, and damages to the Cambodian Cultural property and world heritage. Since 2008 Thai Armed Forces have launched four attacks on Cambodian territory and military positions, first on 15 July 2008, second on 15 October 2008, third on 3 April 2009 and fourth on 4 to 7 February 2011. Therefore it is correct and absolutely proper to say that “Thai map” is a pure Thai’s creation used to commit crimes against Cambodia and the entire humanity.
The ground rule of engagement is set in full force.
Cambodia, under the wise leadership of Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen Prime Minister of Cambodia wishes to live in peace, strives for development, reduces poverty step by step, insures internal stability and harmony, safeguards national sovereignty and territorial integrity, upholds the principle of justice between nations and neighbors, mutual respect, and peaceful coexistence by using all available bilateral and international treaties and legal means she has, but determines to defend the country and the people against all forms of military aggressions imposed by Thai aggressors and all other foreign aggressors indiscriminately. The ground rule of engagement is set: The Cambodian troops will never engage in the fight with Thai troops on Thai soil, but will shoot to kill when Thai troops attacked the Cambodian front line positions in their attempt to enter and occupy the territory under Cambodian sovereignty.
(Sunday 27 February 2011)
Prof. Pen Ngoeun
Senior advisor and member of the Academic Committee
Puthisastra University, Phnom Penh, Cambodia,
Former Dean and Professor of the Faculty of Business and Economics
Pannasastra University of Cambodia,
Former Assistant Controller at Phibro Inc.,
A subsidiary of Citigroup Inc., New York City, USA, until 2000
(The comment are solely the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Royal Government of Cambodia)