Insights on the Cambodian-Thai Border Situation
Today, Council members agreed that on Monday, 14 February they would take up the Cambodian-Thai border situation. There will be a briefing by DPA, the ASEAN chair, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa of Indonesia, and the foreign ministers of Cambodia and Thailand will be invited. The format is yet to be determined.
During the consultations, Council members were briefed by Brazil–the Council president for February–on its call with Natalegawa, who has been mediating on behalf of ASEAN. Earlier members had been briefed by the Secretary-General on his phone calls with the Cambodian and Thai prime ministers.
The main issue now is the format of the meeting. Brazil will consult over the next few days with Thailand and Cambodia to work out a format that is acceptable to both parties. Some Council members are keen to have an open briefing but it appears that Thailand may prefer a private meeting. Thailand is also reluctant to have this become an issue that the Council is seized by.
Council members were generally in agreement on having a meeting on this issue to show that they are watching the situation closely. There was also a sense among members that this meeting should be seen as complementary to regional and bilateral efforts rather than an attempt by the Council to intervene in the situation. It is hoped that a clear message to hold the cease-fire and reach agreement will be sent during the meeting.
Some members like Russia felt strongly that this situation with cross-border exchanges of fire and a request for a Council meeting from one of the parties is very clearly within the purview of the Council and could not be ignored.
Neither party has specifically asked the UN for assistance although the Cambodian prime minister during a speech in Phnom Penh called for a UN buffer zone. Thailand appears more reluctant to internationalise the situation by involving the UN.