Legality of Thai-Cambodian maritime MoU challenged
text size

Legality of Thai-Cambodian maritime MoU challenged

Palang Pracharath Party deputy leader Paiboon Nititawan (File photo)
Palang Pracharath Party deputy leader Paiboon Nititawan (File photo)

The Ombudsman has been asked to petition the Constitutional Court to rule whether the Thai-Cambodian memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed in 2001 on joint development in the Gulf of Thailand is in breach of the Thai constitution.

Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) deputy leader Paiboon Nititawan made the request to the Office of the Ombudsman on Wednesday.

The 2001 MoU had not been approved by the Thai parliament before it was signed, which resulted in it  “having no legal effect from inception”, according to Mr Paiboon’s petition to the Ombudsman.

He named the Department of Treaties and Legal Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the first and second parties to be held responsible for what he believed was a breach of the constitution.

Mr Paiboon said that despite previously acknowledging that the MoU had not won parliament approval, the two parties continued using the MoU as a reference to what had been agreed by both nations regarding the 26,000 square kilometres of territorial waters in the Gulf of Thailand, which Thailand had sovereignty over.

The 2001 MoU was being referred to whenever the two countries tried to reach further agreement upon the possibility of sharing natural resources existing in these territorial waters, which were estimated to be worth more than 20 trillion baht, he said.

Mr Paiboon said he requested that the Ombudsman ask the court to order the department and the ministry to stop using the 2001 MoU in matters pertaining to the demarcation of the territorial waters in question.

He said if the court rules the 2001 MoU to be unconstitutional and having no legal effect, based on the grounds it was incomplete from the start, as stated in the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, Thailand would be in a better position when fresh disputes arise over Thai-Cambodian overlapping claims. 

He said Cambodia had always cited the 2001 MoU to back its position that Thailand had formally recognised these territorial waters as mutual areas of overlapping claims.

Mr Paiboon also urged the Thai government to turn to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg, Germany, if the Cambodian government cannot agree that the 2001 MoU is actually invalid.

Do you like the content of this article?