Dec 21, 2018 News
The controversy surrounding Venezuela’s claim to Guyana’s Essequibo region is being worked through smoothly and will have a suitable resolution in reasonable time.
This is according to Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Greenidge, who held a press conference yesterday.
The Minister said that the “main event of interest as 2018 broke was the discussion with the Personal Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General intended to be a last effort to resolve the controversy arising from Venezuela’s contention that the 1899 Treaty is null and void”.
Greenidge explained that the matter has progressed on a path that points to a conclusion in a reasonable time. He said that, up until the referral of the matter to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), “we had been placed in a cul-de-sac by our neighbour,” Venezuela, who Greenidge described as intransigent.
Despite the stubborn nature of Venezuela, Minister Greenidge looks favourably on the decision of the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, because he expects the rule of law to prevail.
Guyana, however, had placed itself on alert when two Russian bombers capable of carrying long-range nuclear missiles, were docked in Venezuela last week Monday. Venezuelan Defence Minister, Vladimir Padrino, had said that the deployment of the planes were nothing to be alarmed about; that they’re a part of routine air force exercises with its Russian allies.
A release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated Guyana’s commitment to peaceful resolution of disputes.
The latest significant matter relating to the border controversy was when Guyana submitted the matter to the International Court of Justice, to confirm, in a final judgment, the validity of the arbitrary award that established the international boundary between Venezuela and Guyana, more than a century ago.
In January of this year, Guterres, acting under the authority granted to him by the Geneva agreement, chose adjudication by the court as the means for the resolution of the controversy, with finality. Guyana had commenced proceedings before the court in accordance with the Secretary General’s decision.
Guyana had filed its memorial in accordance with the order of the court dated June 19, 2018, that determined it would first resolve the question of the court’s jurisdiction in light of Venezuela’s refusal to participate in the proceedings based on its claim that the court lacks jurisdiction.
Guyana’s submission accordingly sets out how the boundary with Venezuela was established by an arbitral tribunal provided for in a treaty concluded by Venezuela and Great Britain in 1897. Venezuela accepted this unanimous award, which was rendered by five jurists in 1899, and participated in a joint commission to demarcate the boundary on the ground, then insisted on the award’s strict implementation.
Only decades later did Venezuela, in anticipation of Guyana’s independence, cease recognizing the award’s validity and binding nature, using that pretext to lay claim to more than two-thirds of Guyana’s territory, dubbed by Venezuela as Guayana Esequiba.
To ensure a final resolution to the controversy through peaceful means, the Government of British Guiana, Venezuela and the United Kingdom concluded the Geneva Agreement on 17 February, 1966. That treaty authorizes the United Nations’ Secretary General to decide which of the means listed in the United Nations charter – which includes binding adjudication by the ICJ – shall be used to resolve the controversy.
By agreeing to Article IV of the charter, Venezuela consented to the court’s jurisdiction in the event the Secretary General decides that the controversy should be resolved by the court, which he did. The two decides, according to the court must detail why it should hear the case. Venezuela, the only country left to do so, has until April of 2019.
It is important to note that the resurgence of Venezuela’s efforts to claim Guyana’s territory began about the same time discoveries had started to be announced of high quality oil wells in Guyana’s territory, by Exxon Mobil.
Responding to questions posed to him, Minister Greenidge said that Guyana has expended US$3.7M on legal fees to settle its border controversy with Venezuela at the ICJ, taken from the US$18M signing bonus which was received from Exxon in 2016, in addition to the main contract.
The government had set aside US$15M from the bonus for legal proceedings at the court, while the remaining US$3M was put aside for training.
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