– will refuse it when enacted here
Venezuelan officials have said that they stand ready to fight, via the diplomatic channels, a Maritime bill recently passed in Guyana which may affect that neighbouring territory’s interests.
Guyana’s government is getting ready to enact the Maritime Zones Bill 2009, already approved by the Parliament.
Quoting officials of the Venezuelan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the El Universal newspaper yesterday said that while that country has not taken a stance yet on the law because it has not been enacted, it will be refused by the government by diplomatic means when that happens.
The bill set the guidelines on marine and submarine limits under the Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which Guyana is a party, but not Venezuela.
Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, had explained that the Bill attempts “to safeguard the rights of Guyana over 200 miles of exclusive economic zone.”
Under clause 35 of the law, “delimitation of the boundaries of territorial seas located between any states opposed or adjacent to Guyana, will be agreed between Guyana and said state; in the absence of an agreed upon solution, neither state is authorized to extend its territorial waters beyond the so-called midline.”
According to the newspaper report yesterday, Venezuela’s National Academy of Engineering and Habitat, in a newsletter, is certain that the proposal refers to “agreeing with Venezuela, because definition of (Guyana’s) borders with Suriname was possible upon the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2007.”
Delimitation of marine and submarine waters with Guyana is a pending task, because Venezuela insists on claiming the land portion to the west of river Essequibo, and under said law, Guyana sets guidelines to establish its maritime boundaries without taking into account the Venezuelan claim, the report said.
According to the report, the projection of the so-called midline harms Venezuela, because the outline of the geo-morphological inclination favours Guyana.
Clause 37 of the Bill states that any disputes that may arise for failure to reach an agreement on delimitation between the parties will be settled under the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The Convention sets forth in article 286 that in the event of not reaching a bilateral agreement, “any dispute concerning the interpretation or application of this Convention shall, where no settlement has been reached by recourse to section 1, be submitted, at the request of any party to the dispute, to the court or tribunal having jurisdiction under this section.”
The newspaper report contended that this runs counter to the spirit of the Geneva Agreement executed on February 16, 1966, which states as an objective “satisfactory solutions for the practical settlement of the controversy between Venezuela and the United Kingdom which has arisen as the result of the Venezuelan contention that the Arbitral Award of 1899 about the frontier between British Guiana and Venezuela is null and void.”
Under international law, a practical settlement allows for political solutions, but the Maritime Zones Bill 2009 paves the way to resort to another jurisdiction, such as an international court, upon the decision of either party, not by common consent.
The legal instrument will cover areas related to territorial sea, internal waters, innocent passage, continental shelf, exclusive economic zone, maritime delimitation and geographical charts and coordinates, among other issues of interest to Venezuela.
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