Thailand and Cambodia (map, from bbcimg.co.uk) have been fighting for months over 11th Century Preah Vihear temple, and now the dispute arrives before the UN’s highest court.
The UN has previously called for restrain, and on Monday Cambodia requested the International Court of Justice to issue an emergency order to Thailand to withdraw its troops from the disputed region.
At least 18 people died in the fighting and thousands are now homeless because of the clashes around the temple.
And the Cambodians also want clarification on a 1962 ruling by an international court which asserted that the Hindu temple belongs to their country.
But both Thailand and Cambodia claim ownership of the temple’s surrounding area.
In front of a panel of 16 judges at the court, Cambodia’s foreign minister Hor Namhong said that “murderous armed incursions” by the Thai military around the Preah Vihear temple are a “grave threat” to regional peace and security.
“Thailand is under obligation to withdraw any troops in the area around the temple,” he said.
He added that Thailand’s military action around the temple was based on an “erroneous and unacceptable” interpretation of the court’s 1962 judgement.
For its part Thailand argues that although it does not dispute the ownership of the temple to Cambodia, the surrounding area is not included the 1962 judgement.
Outside the court room, Kasit Piromya, Thailand’s caretaker foreign minister, said : “The court did not have the jurisdiction to rule about that.”
He added that his country sees this as a border dispute and is currently in talks with Cambodia in order to settle it.
“We do not understand why we have to come here when there is already an existing mechanism” for negotiating a border, Mr Kasit told reporters.