The International Court of Justice in Asia: Interpreting the Temple of Preah Vihear Case
Asian Journal of International Law, vol. 5 (2015), p. 1
8 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2014 Last revised: 20 Feb 2015
Date Written: January 20, 2014
This essay examines the 2013 decision by the International Court of Justice interpreting its 1962 judgment in the Temple of Preah Vihear case between Cambodia and Thailand, situating the more recent decision in the context of the Court’s evolving role in Asia. Only eight Asian states have accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the Court; only nine have ever appeared before it. The narrowness of the recent decision is of interest in part because of the modest role it ascribes to judicial institutions, but also for what this modesty heralds for the Court’s status in Asia. A key conclusion is that Asian states are likely to retain a general preference for bilateral resolution of disputes. For smaller disputes, however, especially those concerning subjects that cannot be divided or traded — such as a temple (and, as we shall see, an island) — the ICJ may play an important role.
Keywords: International Court of Justice, jurisdiction, dispute resolution, Asia, Preah Vihear, Thailand, Cambodia
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