The UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website] on Monday ordered [press release, PDF] that both Thailand and Cambodia immediately withdraw military personnel from a disputed area along the border between the two countries. The Temple of Preah Vihear [UNESCO profile] is a demilitarized region between Cambodia and Thailand, and has been the sight of armed clashes [AP report] between military forces from both countries since 2008. The court voted 11-5 to instruct both countries to withdraw troops, as well as permit officials from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) [official website] to monitor the cease-fire, which was called for [JURIST report] by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon [official website; JURIST news archive] in April. Thailand is also not permitted to refuse access to Cambodia with respect to non-military use of the area.
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The Cambodian government asked [press release] the ICJ in May to order Thai troops to withdraw from the disputed border area. The ICJ ruling stems from a request from Cambodia seeking clarification [JURIST report] from the court of a 1962 decision [judgment, PDF] awarding the temple to the Cambodian city of Phnom Penh. Cambodia argued that the troops in the surrounding area of the temple are a threat to the security and peace of the region, while Thailand contended that the ICJ does not have jurisdiction to decide border disputes between countries. Parts of the Cambodia-Thailand border have never been formally demarcated, which has led to border disputes [BBC report]. In response to the latest border clash, Ban stressed that the dispute could not be resolved through military force [JURIST report] and urged both sides to continue working towards a ceasefire.