Of international law, semi-colonial Thailand, and imperial ghosts

Singh, Prabhakar (2019) Of international law, semi-colonial Thailand, and imperial ghosts. Asian Journal of International Law, 9 (1). pp. 46-74. ISSN 20442521

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I argue that contextually reading two disputes involving Siam—Cheek v. Siam (1898) and the Temple of Preah Vihear (1962)—proves that both private law and public international law are structurally rigged against ex-semi-colonial nations. Nineteenth-century Siam was a political ferment known variously as a semi-colonial, semi-peripheral, non-colonial, or uncolonized polity. Siam bargained under imperial shadows its political independence by the tactical grants of concession contracts, as well as by negotiating treaties with competing European powers. In the post-colonial Temple of Preah Vihear case, colonial stationery—maps, photographs, and communiqués—as well as imperial customs offered evidentiary support to Cambodia, an ex-colonial state, against Thailand. In the early twentieth century, while authors picked Cheek v. Siam as a precedent for the law of international claims, textbooks offer the Temple of Preah Vihear case as a precedent on the form of treaties and estoppel. Conclusively, these two cases allow us to locate, if not exorcise, the ghosts of empires in Asian legal history, exposing, at the same time, Judge Koo’s Orientalization of customary international law.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Law and Legal Studies
JGU School/Centre: Jindal Global Law School
Depositing User: Shilpi Rana
Date Deposited: 07 Jan 2022 10:04
Last Modified: 28 Jul 2023 10:31
Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1017/S204425131800005X
URI: https://pure.jgu.edu.in/id/eprint/633


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