Thai court to review 2001 Thai-Cambodian MoU’s constitutionality

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) Deputy Leader Paiboon Nititawan has taken his concerns about the 2001 Thai-Cambodian memorandum of understanding (MoU) on joint development in the Gulf of Thailand to the Constitutional Court, questioning its alignment with the Thai constitution.

Paiboon had initially requested the Ombudsman to petition the court on April 10 but, after the Ombudsman failed to act within the 60-day deadline, he decided to approach the court directly.

Paiboon contends that the 2001 MoU was never approved by the Thai parliament before it was signed, rendering it “having no legal effect from inception.” He has asked the court to determine whether the Department of Treaties and Legal Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should be held accountable for what he perceives as a constitutional violation.

Despite acknowledging that the MoU lacked parliamentary approval, Paiboon noted that the department and the ministry continue to reference it in matters concerning the 26,000 square kilometres of territorial waters in the Gulf of Thailand, over which Thailand claims sovereignty.

Paiboon has also requested the court to instruct the department and the ministry to cease using the 2001 MoU in their work related to the demarcation of these territorial waters.

Paiboon previously stated that if the court ruled the 2001 MoU unconstitutional and without legal effect, based on the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, Thailand would be in a stronger position during any future disputes over overlapping claims with Cambodia. He argued that Cambodia frequently cites the 2001 MoU to support its stance that Thailand formally recognised these territorial waters as shared overlapping claims.

Foreign Affairs Minister Maris Sangiampongsa earlier clarified that the 2001 Thai-Cambodian MoU is not a treaty and contains no binding clauses. According to Maris, the two governments have not reached any agreements regarding the MoU.

“The MoU does not compromise Thailand’s sovereignty over the overlapping claims area (OCA) in Koh Kood in the border province of Trat, as it imposes no obligations.”

Pending the court’s decision, several issues remain unresolved, reported Bangkok Post.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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