Cambodia to apply for Preah Vihear World Heritage status alone

The Thai courts issued an injuction against the Thai government from supporting Cambodia’s bid to list Preah Vihear as a World Heritage site, Cambodia has decided to press on with the proposal alone at the World Heritage Committee meeting in Quebec today.

Cambodians hope for UNESCO ruling to end Thai temple claims
AFP, via The Age, 1 July 2008

Phnom Penh to go alone with Preah Vihear on the world heritage
The Natiom, 1 july 2008

It’s not clear how the injunction would affect the proposal, but strictly speaking Thailand’s involvement is not at all essential to the process as the temple itself has been declared territorially Cambodia’s since the 1960s. Much of the current dispute has been focused on the border demarcation around the temple, which has been the major stumbling block towards a world heritage listing. Last month, the two governments announced an agreement on the border boundaries for the temple but Thai critics have alleged (among other things) that land was lost in the deal – leading to last weekend’s injunction. Given the uproar around the whole isuue, I doubt very much that the World Heritage Committee will accept Cambodia’s proposal to list the site.

Cambodia has vowed to push ahead its UNESCO application to list the Hindu temple of Preah Vihear as the world heritage despite Thai objections.

“It’s their internal problem,” Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan was quoted as saying by the Phnom Penh Post on Monday.

“[Preah Vihear] is our temple and we want it to receive world heritage listing,” Siphan said.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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