UNESCO and the Preah Vihear Dispute: Challenges Facing Cosmopolitan Minded International Institutions in Dispute Resolution

Robison, Paul (2013) UNESCO and the Preah Vihear Dispute: Challenges Facing Cosmopolitan Minded International Institutions in Dispute Resolution. Masters thesis, The American University of Paris. [Thesis]


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Abstract (in English)

The thesis examines the border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia over the Temple of Preah Vihear that was ignited when the site was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2008. The principle research question asked is why did the involvement of an international organization, with a cosmopolitan mandate to preserve the universal heritage of mankind and promote peaceful relations between member states, result in an intermittently violent border dispute that the UNESCO been unable to successfully mediate? The thesis first describes UNESCO, the World Heritage Convention, and the World Heritage Actors constituent parts of a “cosmopolitan international organization” that is tasked with advancing a cosmopolitan normative agenda according to a Kantian federation of states model. It then presents the Preah Vihear dispute by focusing on the creation of the Thai-Cambodian border during the French colonial period, the legal dispute about the temple that was argued before the International Court of Justice following Cambodian independence, and the current crisis triggered by the addition of the site to the World Heritage List. The final section argues that the normal technical/legal logic used by international organizational actors is unable to resolve fundamentally political disputes, and in the case of Preah Vihear it further aggravated the crisis and prompted a Thai backlash against the whole World Heritage cosmopolitan project. The thesis concludes by saying institutional actors seeking cosmopolitan outcomes need to take responsibility and initiative to go beyond legal interpretations in order to craft viable political solutions to political disputes.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Robison, Paul
Languages: English
Keywords: Preah Vihear Border Dispute; World Heritage; Conflict Resolution; World Heritage sites; International Organizations; Borders; Crisis; Legal framework; International management; Historic surveys; Temples; World Heritage Convention; International standards; UNESCO; World Heritage Centre; Political conflict; Cambodia
K. LEGAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE ISSUES > 05. International organizations
K. LEGAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE ISSUES > 06. Doctrinal texts, conventions and charters
M. WORLD HERITAGE CONVENTION > 03. World Heritage List
M. WORLD HERITAGE CONVENTION > 06. Operational guidelines
M. WORLD HERITAGE CONVENTION > 07. Management plan
P. GEOGRAPHIC AREAS > 04. Asia and Pacific islands
Name of monument, town, site, museum: Temple of Preah Vihear, Cambodia
UNESCO WHC Number: 1224rev
Number of Pages: 65
Depositing User: Mr. Paul Robison
Date Deposited: 27 May 2013 14:34
Last Modified: 27 May 2013 14:34
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URI: https://openarchive.icomos.org/id/eprint/1371

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