UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon [official website; JURIST news archive] on Saturday urged [press release] Cambodia and Thailand to enter into a ceasefire agreement to resolve recent border clashes between the two countries. Saying that a military resolution is impossible [statement], Ban urged the countries to pursue a diplomatic solution and to exercise military restraint. The neighboring nations have been clashing [NYT report] for the past three days over disputed territory, marking the first time since February that the countries broke an informal cease-fire. Last month, both nations agreed to a UN-mediated meeting to discuss ways to safeguard the temple Preah Vihear [UNESCO profile], a location on the UN World Heritage List, which was damaged in previous border clashes between the South-East Asian neighbors earlier this year.
In addition to armed clashes with Thailand, Cambodia's border with Vietnam has also been a subject of controversy. Last month, Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy [party profile; JURIST news archive] lost his final appeal to the Cambodian Supreme Court on charges of intentionally destroying posts [JURIST report] marking the border between Cambodia and Vietnam and inciting racial discrimination through that act. The ruling upheld Rainsy's September 2010 conviction [JURIST report], given in absentia due to his self-imposed exile since 2005. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] strongly criticized the ruling [JURIST report], saying that it showed the government's control over the country's judiciary.