Clashes broke out again 22 April near the disputed Preah Vihear temple on the Cambodian-Thai border. Both Thailand and Cambodia wrote to the president of the Security Council providing their version of the recent clashes. Neither side asked the Council to convene a meeting. However, Cambodia applied to the ICJ seeking an interpretation of the Court’s 1962 judgement concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear.
On 14 February, the Council held a private meeting following-up a letter from Cambodia to the Council president. The Council was briefed by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs and the chair of ASEAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia Marty Natalegawa. The Council also heard statements from the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia, Hor Namhong, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Thailand, Kasit Piromya. A Council press statement expressed grave concern about the recent armed clashes between Cambodia and Thailand. Members called on the two sides to display maximum restraint and avoid any action that may aggravate the situation. They further urged the parties to establish a permanent ceasefire, and to implement it fully and resolve the situation peacefully and through effective dialogue; expressed support for ASEAN’s efforts and encouraged the parties to continue to cooperate with the organisation in this regard. At a 22 February ASEAN meeting, Thailand and Cambodia agreed to allow unarmed Indonesian observers to monitor a ceasefire.
In 2007 Cambodia applied for the temple complex to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The temple complex was listed on 8 July 2008, despite formal objections from Thailand. In July 2008 Thailand and Cambodia both moved troops into and close to the disputed area. Both Cambodia and Thailand wrote to the Council following this escalation of tension. However, there was little appetite on the part of Council members to take up the issue. In part because Viet Nam, a member of ASEAN (of which both Cambodia and Thailand are members), was on the Council and persuaded other members that it was preferable to allow bilateral discussions to take priority. Eventually both sides agreed to discuss the issue through a Joint Border Commission.
There is a long-running border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia over territory in the vicinity of Preah Vihear, a temple complex dating from the 11th century. In 1959 the dispute was referred to the ICJ. In 1962 the ICJ ruled (in a 9-3 decision) that the area in the vicinity of Preah Vihear was part of Cambodian territory. While the ICJ ruling meant the temple complex was in Cambodian territory, the geography of the area determines that the most easily accessible entrance to the complex is in Thailand. Thailand accepts Cambodia’s sovereignty over Preah Vihear. However land surrounding the temple remains in dispute.