Insights on the Cambodian-Thai Border Situation
Council members today discussed the situation on the Cambodian-Thai border. Hostilities between the Cambodian and Thai military have been ongoing since 4 February. At least five people have been killed and thousands displaced. This is not the first time the disputed area surrounding the Preah Vihear temple has sparked clashes but it is the first time the Council has reacted to it.
Following the clashes, both Thailand and Cambodia sent the president of the Security Council letters on 5 February describing the incidents that had taken place on 4 and 5 February. On 6 February Cambodia wrote to the Council president again documenting the continued attacks on the border and citing how they violated international law. The Cambodian letter also asked the Council to convene an “urgent meeting” to stop “Thailand’s aggression”. On 7 February Thailand wrote a second letter to the president of the Council giving Thailand’s position on the latest developments. The letter also reiterated its commitment to using bilateral frameworks and channels of communication to resolve the situation.
Today during their discussion, Council members agreed on elements to the press which were read out by the Brazilian ambassador, as president of the Council for February. She said that Council members expressed great concern at the aggravation of tension on the border and called for a ceasefire while urging the parties to resolve the situation peacefully. While expressing support for mediation efforts being undertaken by Indonesia, as chair of ASEAN, they also expressed willingness to hold a Council meeting depending on the outcome of those efforts.
In terms of follow-up on this issue we’ve heard that the Council president will get an update from Indonesia’s foreign minister tomorrow morning on his mediation efforts. If it has not produced any concrete results then the Council could meet as early as tomorrow afternoon. The format being suggested is a meeting where Council members will hear from DPA as well as from the Thai and Cambodian permanent representatives. At the time of writing it hadn’t been decided who would brief from DPA nor on the format of the meeting.
Council members are in agreement that this is a threat to international peace and security and that it is the prerogative of the Council to meet on this issue. The elements that were released to the press appear to have been an effort to demonstrate that the Council was concerned about the situation and was following it closely and that holding a meeting was a real option.