Thailand quits World Heritage Convention

June 27th, 2011 - 12:12 am ICT by BNO News  

PARIS (BNO NEWS) — Thailand announced on Saturday its departure from the United Nations World Heritage Convention after the World Heritage Committee decided to consider Cambodia’s management plan for the Preah Vihear temple.

The Nation news website reported that Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti, head of the Thai delegation negotiating with the World Heritage Committee in Paris, said that his delegation agreed to withdraw Thailand from the World Heritage Convention after the body ignored Thailand’s concern that the consideration of the management plan would complicate the Thai-Cambodian border dispute.

“They ignored it and they did not care about our sovereignty and territory,” Suwit said. “They cared only about the conservation of the temple. Actually, we told them that if Cambodia withdraws its troops from the temple, the conservation can go ahead. The troop withdrawal will allow the conservation to be done. No one will interfere with it. No damages will be done if no one fires from the site.”

Following the withdrawal, the World Heritage Committee could no longer force Thailand to compile to its decision, Suwit added.

Cambodia wants to press ahead with the World Heritage Committee’s meeting on the management of 4.6-square-km space around the ancient Hindu temple.

Tensions first escalated between the two countries in July 2008 following the build-up of military forces near the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple. The United Nations Security Council urged both sides to establish a permanent ceasefire after at least 10 people were killed.

Clashes resumed in February as both nations claim the lands surrounding the ancient Hindu Temple, which has been damaged due to the conflict. The Preah Vihear temple dates back to the 11th century and is located on the Cambodian side of the border. The World Court ruled in 1962 that the temple was in Cambodian soil but did not clarify the ownership of the surrounding area.

In 2008, the temple was inscribed on the World Heritage List in recognition of its outstanding universal value. It is considered an outstanding example of Khmer architecture and consists of a complex of sanctuaries linked by pavements and staircases on an 800-meter-long axis.

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