By Leonard Gildarie
Kaieteur News – On Friday, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) handed down a critical ruling regarding the border controversy with Venezuela.
ICJ, which is known as the World Court, is a judicial arm of the New York-headquartered United Nations.
Guyana is part of the UN, since 1966, the year of Independence. Venezuela, on the other hand, has been a member of the UN since 1945.
Both countries participate in the annual General Assembly of the body. Both countries by extension are supposed to fall under the judicial arm of the ICJ.
Here is where the story got funny. For years, Venezuela has been rattling its sabre over the border with Guyana. The matter, according to Guyana, was settled since 1899.
Venezuela, however, was never satisfied. In 2013, Venezuela military vessels seized the RV Teknik Perdana survey boat, which was reportedly being used by Texas-based Anadarko.
Venezuela said the ship had violated its waters. Guyana says the boat was well within its territory and Venezuela’s action has threatened its national security.
In 2015, ExxonMobil announced that it struck oil in commercial quantities in Guyana’s Stabroek Block, about 100 miles offshore from Georgetown.
Immediately, Venezuela, under the presidency of Nicolas Maduro, drew up maps which say that a large part of Essequibo and the waters, yes, the very same waters, where the oil was discovered, belong to that neighbouring, Spanish-speaking country.
In stepped David Granger, whose presidency was weeks old. Guyana went to the UN General Assembly in New York later in 2015 where leaders were gathered and he complained of the bullying.
I was there covering the events, and it was a proud moment. A united Guyana against a bully.
Guyana abandoned a ‘UN-supervised’ Good Officer process, making it clear that it was a waste of time, having dragged on for two decades. Under that Good Officer process, the UN had appointed Jamaican Professor Norman Girvan to attempt to settle the border claims of Venezuela, with little progress.
For one year, the new UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, made attempts to bring an end to the matter eventually conceding and giving Guyana the option to approach the ICJ, the UN judicial arm.
In March 2018, Guyana filed an application to the Hague-based ICJ asking that the Court confirm the legal validity and binding effect of the 1899 Arbitral Award regarding the boundary between Guyana and Venezuela.
However, Venezuela made it clear that it prefers the Good Officer process, yes that same one that dragged on, to continue. Guyana refused with Granger making it clear that Guyana is tired of the monkey on its back and wanted closure.
Venezuela then questioned the authority of the court to hear the matter.
On Friday, the court ruled that it indeed has the jurisdiction to hear the case. There is one thing else that Guyana and the world should be reminded of.
Venezuela has made it clear that it will not recognize any decision on the border by the ICJ. It did not participate in the case, a fact that the court says it regretted.
However, Guyana has insisted that it wants to the court to rule, as it would set the record straight.
It would reflect officially, on the records, what the world has concluded on the border issue.
We outline the above to highlight two very important happenings in Guyana last week.
On Friday, the country’s leaders were united in the case.
It would spell a rare occasion but we could not have expected a different posture.
Joining the fight on the case with the people of Guyana is former Foreign Minister of the Coalition, Carl Greenidge.
Immediately after the ruling on jurisdiction, the representatives of political parties, including from the Opposition, were together on the matter. Joseph Harmon and Amna Ally included. Joining them was the private sector.
This is the Guyana, which we should all strive for.
It does not matter what our political stance is, when it comes to matters of national importance, we have to be one in unity…remember that motto… “One People, One Nation, One Destiny”?
The other issue has to do with Ethnic Relations Commission.
This Constitutional body has been heavily criticized by none other than President Irfaan Ali himself.
Last week, in a much touted forum, ERC hosted a two-day public consultation on ethnic relations and how we can improve things.
The reality is that the issue is critical. The problem is that for some, it may be a little too late for the current ERC as it is made up.
For months, ERC stayed largely quiet while Guyana went through uncertainty from elections. It was five months of it.
For months, a certain section of the population came under fire, with the flames of ethnic tensions being fanned with gusto by a number of known characters both in and out of Guyana.
Their voices have gone silent.
ERC, the supposed protector, was silent.
According to the President, the government had no role in planning the event and it was unclear how the presenters were selected.
This cannot be. I am strongly one for independence of Constitutional bodies.
When those bodies collect tax dollars and cannot properly represent the people there is an issue.
I hate being stuck in one place. Going forward, ERC has to understand its mandate. Not sometimes. Not for two days.
The same goes for all Constitutional bodies. There has to be transparency. There must be accountability. There can be no negotiations.
This country belongs to us. We want a better life.
The ERCs of Guyana must understand this.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
Aug 10, 2022Kaieteur News – Guyana’s Open team defeated Burundi while the Women’s team defeated TimorLeste on Monday in Chennai during the FIDE Chess Olympiad. The Open team comprised of CM Taffin...
Aug 10, 2022
Aug 10, 2022
Aug 10, 2022
Aug 10, 2022
Aug 10, 2022
By Sir Ronald Sanders Kaieteur News – In the first part of this commentary, the conclusion was reached that the great... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]