Thailand to raise objection to UNESCO over Preah Vihear

In a move that is sure to set Cambodian-Thai relations to a new low, Thailand has announced plans to register their objection to the lisiting of Preah Vihear directly to Unesco, in a seeming backpedal from an earlier position to negotiate with Cambodia. Of course, Cambodia isn’t amused, and politicians on both sides have weighed in their opinion. I’m not sure what Thailand expects out of raising their objection – it’s almost been a year since Preah Vihear was inscribed, and so the objection seems rather late (although to be fair Thai politics has had a tumultuous year this year). Even then, it’s highly unlikely that Unesco will de-list Preah Vihear – can you imagine the kind of ruckus that would be raised if Preah Vihear was uninscribed from the list?

Govt renews Preah Vihear push
Bangkok Post, 18 June 2009

Suwit to explain P.Vihear objection

Bangkok Post, 18 June 2009

PM and Abhisit in Temple Smackdown
Phnom Penh Post, 19 June 2009

FM: Thai objection to Preah Vihear listing against World Heritage, UNESCO, not Cambodia

MCOT News, 20 June 2009

Cambodia FM: Thailand threatens Cambodia and UNESCO over Preah Vihear temple

Xinhua, 20 June 2009

PM denies undemining temple

The Nation, 20 June 2009

Cambodia lashes out

Bangkok Post, 21 June 2009

Preah Vihear appeal ‘targets UN, not Cambodia’

The Nation, 21 June 2009

Cambodia in war of words with Thailand over border

AFP, via Channel NewsAsia, 21 June 2009

Thai PM hits back in Cambodia border temple row

AFP, via Channel NewsAsia, 21 June 2009

Why govt presses on with temple push

Bangkok Post, 22 June 2009?p>

Foreign Affairs Minister Kasit Piromya reasserted Saturday that Thailand’s plan object to Cambodia’s listing of Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site is directed at the World Heritage Committee and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), not the Cambodian government.

He said Suwit Khunkitti, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, who will attend a World Heritage Committee meeting in Seville, Spain, next week as an observer, will meet the chairman of the Committee beforehand regarding Thailand’s objection to Cambodia’s unilateral listing of the temple which sits on the border between the two countries.

UNESCO granted Cambodia’s application for Preah Vihear to be designated a World Heritage site in July last year.

“This issue is between Thailand and the World Heritage Committee and the UNESCO and not between Thailand and Cambodia,” Mr. Kasit, adding that Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva had said that Cambodia is not involved in this matter.

Mr. Kasit declined to say whether the Thai action would change the prior decision because it is up to the committee, and Thailand is attending not as a member but as observer.

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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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