How can maps drawn over a century ago still lead to conflict between two countries? The Southeast Asian countries of Thailand and Cambodia are neighbors with a difficult history and a shared border. Their religious similarities have made sacred spaces along the border a divisive issue, with the sacred site of Preah Vihear a central point of controversy. Differing recollections and interpretations of historical events, coupled with a series of International Criminal Court (ICJ) rulings have prolonged an issue dating back to the early 20th century, to have current day repercussions. Seeking to address the broader question of why states engage in armed conflict over historically religious spaces through a case study analysis of the Thai-Cambodia border conflict, this paper demonstrates how events from the past can and often do affect decisions made by governmental bodies in the present. Ultimately concluding that the current conflict is a result of political entities using the Temple issue as a means of furthering personal political interests.
Authors and Publishers
The Journal of Internal Service is an organization at American University School of International Service.
The Journal was founded in 1992 under the name Swords and Ploughshares – a name that represented the process by which a nation transforms from a state of war to a civilization of peace. The philosophy of the School of International Service is a milestone in civilization’s journey toward an international community based on mutual understanding and respect, a philosophy that the JIS strives to promote.