Thai Cambodian Border Dispute History Homework Help

Subject: Thai-Cambodian Border Dispute

Post 1:

This week we examine some of the causes of international conflict, particularly as it pertains to borders disputes. Border disputes can generate from economic, cultural, or ethnic causes, and sometime strategic reasons. The recent annexation of Crimea by Russia can be seen as strategic, as it gives Russia access to naval ports on the Black Sea, greatly increasing its projection of military power. Ethnic disputes are common in areas of Central Asia, the Middle East, and Africa where national boundaries are a construct of the European colonization and treaties that imposed arbitrary lines across tribal boundaries. Consider the long-standing border dispute between Pakistan and India over the Kashmir region when the UK granted both independence. In the case of Central Asia, many tribes were uprooted and relocated by the Soviets in an effort to enforce peace and build the workforce. Border disputes can arise over economic reasons, such as valuable land, watering holes, access to rare minerals, or in typical American-awesomeness – when the US and UK almost went to war in 1859 over a pig.

The case study for this week of the Prea Vihear temple and the Thai-Cambodian border conflict is an interest mix of many of the above. First, the temple holds cultural and religious meaning to both parties involved. However, the effect of European Colonial intervention imposed arbitrary border lines upon Thailand and Cambodia. As discussed in the readings, the borders detailed by the French were ambiguous and conflicting (Saikia).

The application to have the area designated as a UNESCO Word Heritage Site further upped the conflict. The designation by UNESCO brings in funding for preservation and encourages tourism, which may have brought a bump to the economies of either country. Though I doubt it would be enough of a bump to go to war over. However, the designation of the site does bring about a level of international recognition that the site is in fact in Cambodia. It would be similar to how New Yorkers would feel when they realize the actual address of the Statue of Liberty is, in fact, in New Jersey (1 Communipaw Ave, Jersey City, NJ to be exact – but I’m not biased). Thus both sides are using the temple as a source of nationalist pride, pitting the opposition as the one trying to take away their land.

Post 2

This week discussion is over the Thai-Cambodia border dispute and how small matters can escalated into big conflicts. This is a very unfortunately sad situation for both countries. This issue shows further how much political cycles in democracy can doom international reconciliation efforts which I have discussed in previous forums. Furthermore this shows the limits and power international organizations have to resolving disputes between countries.

The International Court of Justice has ruled on this dispute many times. Each time it ruled both sides need to share the territory ruling on the basis of the original 1907 map drawn out by both sides. However both sides have ignored these rulings. This is a similar border situation to the one both the United Kingdom and Iceland went to war over three times. Know as the Cod Wars this was a sea territorial over fishing grounds dispute which eventually ended when Iceland was granted a 200 mile economic exclusion zone. This was a matter in which the Organization European Economic Cooperation had to intervene in as well.

Whats different about this case its not over monetary greed like we see so often in disputes such as the Cod Fish Wars or what we could see in the future about the South China Seas. Instead this is over national pride of both nations involved as nationalism has fueled this conflict from both sides. The unelected bureaucrats on both sides see the huge economic potential. Both ASEAN and International Crises Groups articles both talk about the huge economic potential if this problem is resolved. The site of Preah Vihear temple ever since it was listed as a United Nations World Heritage site has undergone a tremendous amount of fighting as both sides are refusing to cede what they both deem as their territory to both sides. Domestic political turmoil in both countries as the moment one Prime Minister of either side makes attempts for bilateral talks they are removed from office from doing so.

This issue brings an interesting question I pose to the group. In light of this situation what are every ones thoughts on the territory dispute over the Jerusalem in general being resolved to end the violence and bring about tourism to both sides? Is the Israeli- Palestinian conflict stuck in a similar limbo over the Dome of The rock despite the potential economic rewards from tourism both sides could make by resolving the issue? What sort of future does everyone see in both of these issues? Could both of these conflicts perhaps eventually be resolved with time as both sides exhaust one another like we have seen throughout history with wars like the Thirty Years War or the One Hundred Years war? Could we see potentially both sides eventually give in to the economic benefits of this?

From historical standpoint both sides with time could just be exhausted by this dispute and agree to a settlement. This is something hard to see at this point however with time could have potential. The British with the Cod Wars is an example of one side eventually just giving up after a while and settling the issue.

Post 3

As discussed in this week’s lesson, conflicts typically arise from a variety of situations such as; resource scarcity, territory, gender injustice, human nature, colonialism, structural violence, ideology, and religions. In the case of the decade-long Thai-Cambodian conflict, most recently spurred by who controls the Preah Vihear temple, territory is the primary problem, which is fueled by disparities of national identity and autonomy on both sides (Saikia 2012). To further complicate matters, the borders drawn during 1887 and 1893 as boundary treaties between Siam and France were inconsistent and unclear, and the maps sent by the French in 1907 did little to elaborate (2012). Further, in 1962, the International Court of Justice ruled that the temple is in Cambodia, after various instances of Thai armed forces in what was viewed as Cambodian territory, and that Thailand relinquish all relics and artifacts back to Cambodia. In 1962, despite Cambodian Prince Sihanouk allowing Thai citizens to visit the temple without a visa, border disputes continued to take place, even with multiple agreements and conflict settlement (2012).

As Cambodia applied for the Preah Vihear temple to be recognized as a World Heritage site, tensions flared. Initially, protections were requested for the temple itself, but soon spread to 4.6 kms surrounding the temple. Included was a section of land that belonged to Thailand. Though Thailand supported the World Heritage application at first, the public opinion changed after the additional territory was realized. After the Thai leaders continued to support the application, Thai citizens accused their leaders of selling out to the Cambodians and “sacrificed the nation’s sovereignty and prestige (2012).” After this outcry, Thailand retracted its support.

While most of the conflict centers around territory, Saikia notes that after the World Heritage Site was finalized, tense domestic politics and nationalism were fueling conflict in the region (2012). This eventually lead to the former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra being removed by a coup in 2006 (International Crisis Group 2011). Nationalism was running so high that the new Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva denied the use of third parties in the conflict transformation attempt, instead insisting upon a bilateral approach, which ultimately failed (Saikia 2012).

The Thai-Cambodian border conflict technically is a fairly recent conflict, coming to fruition only within the last ten years, however there have been a series of conflicts and conflict settlements and additional tensions that have only escalated the conflict to where it stands today. As we had discussed in last week’s forum, the conflict settlement only solves the smaller problems before others arise. Until a solution is reached where both sides can agree on the border and thus the country that actually holds the Preah Vihear temple, the problems will only continue to escalate, and more violence with more injured, killed, and displaced people is inevitable.


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