Nov 19, 2022 News
By Rehanna Ramsay
Kaieteur News – Professor Pierre d’Argent , the International Counsel for Guyana in the Venezuela/Guyana border dispute currently before the World Court, was among those who countered contentions raised by Venezuela, that Guyana’s case should be deemed inadmissible on the ground of a defect of a missing essential third party.
The ICJ – the Principal Judicial Organ of the United Nations (UN), is holding public hearings on the preliminary objections raised by Venezuela in the case concerning the Arbitral Award of October 3, 1899 (Guyana v. Venezuela). The hearings are slated to take place from November 17 to 22, 2022, at the Palace in The Hague, the seat of the ICJ. The sessions are being presided over by Judge Joan E. Donoghue, President of the Court.
A Guyana delegation is present at the hearing led by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, S.C., Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira, Agent of Guyana in the case concerning the Arbitral Award of October 3, 1899, Carl Greenidge, Co-Agent and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ambassador Elisabeth Harper, Director of the Frontiers Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Donnette Streete, and Advisor to the Leader of the Opposition on Frontier matters, Ambassador Ronald Austin.
The contention of a missing essential third party was raised by Representatives of Venezuela on Thursday when the ICJ opened the floor to Venezuela to raise its objections. Venezuela’s Representatives argued that Guyana is not a proper party to the proceedings, but rather, it was the United Kingdom that had historically negotiated the settlement of the then border dispute. As such, Venezuela wants the UK have been added to the proceedings as a necessary third party.
The country argues that since this is not the case, Guyana’s application for a full and final settlement of the border controversy should be dismissed.
Prof. d’ Argent in his submission to the Court alluded to the ICJ‘s order that it had jurisdiction to hear the matter even when Venezuela had declined to take part in the proceeding on a contention that the World Court lacked that jurisdiction.
He noted that back then the ICJ had asked parties to address the Court on all legal and factual matters related to jurisdiction so that the issue would be exhausted and looked at thoroughly.
According to the Lawyer, it is then that Guyana used the opportunity and relied on Article 4 of the Geneva agreement of 1966, to form the basis of their argument that the World Court has jurisdiction to hear the case.
Prof. d’ Argent explained that Article 4 of the Geneva agreement which was totally ignored by Venezuela in their arguments points to the third-party consent by the United Kingdom.
The Lawyer said “There was no mention of this in yesterday’s proceeding there was no mention of Article 4 of the Geneva Agreement, there was no mention of the fact that the UK had consented to the question of the validity of the award and that this question should ultimately be decided by the Court …without the UK participating in the proceeding and even if its past conduct were to be criticized, Venezuela did not mention anything about this in their preliminary arguments about.’
He continued that even if the objection and argument of inadmissibility were to be considered by Venezuela, it will only be seen as an abstract belated fabrication with no basis and no meaning when it comes to the specificities of the case.
“The issue of jurisdiction in relation to this case was already determined. The question raised of admissibility is irrelevant, Prof. d’ Argent added while noting that the question of consent of a third party falls squarely under the issue of jurisdiction and not admissibility.
Prof. Christina L. Beharry followed up on the contentions raised by d’Argent. She submitted that Venezuela’s argument is late on the UK’s consent is late because it relates to the Court‘s jurisdiction and not whether Guyana’s application before the ICJ should be deemed admissible or not.
“…This relates to the issue of jurisdiction, which the court has already determined. That was an issue raised by Venezuela and that was already determined by this court,” Prof. Beharry added.
She noted that therefore that the issues should be deemed under the principle of Res Judicata and not be decided on again.
“Venezuela’s argument is late… The UK is not an indispensable party to this proceeding because their contention is wholly misconstrued…” the Lawyer continued, while adding the presence of the UK in the case is not necessary as held by Venezuela.
Prior to the presentation by the Lawyers, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, and co-Agent Carl Greenidge made a presentation on behalf of Guyana. He emphasized that the court reached the unqualified conclusion that has jurisdiction in respect of Guyana’s claim concerning the validity of the 1899 arbitral award and the related question of the definitive settlement of the land boundary dispute between Guyana and Venezuela.
He noted that in reaching that decision the court upheld another careful and independent decision, namely the decision of the Secretary General of the UN made in 2018 to entrust the World Court with the responsibility for resolving the dispute between Guyana and Venezuela regarding the validity of the 1899 award and the settlement of the parties land boundary dispute.
Greenidge noted that, “the court would be well aware this is a long standing dispute which has stubbornly defied resolution for more than half a century, it has cast a long and menacing shadow over Guyana’s security and development throughout its existence as a sovereign state, a shadow rooted in Venezuela’s efforts to erase the long standing land boundary between our two countries and make claim to nearly three-quarters of Guyana’s land territory, the resolution of this dispute is therefore no less than existential for Guyana.
As such, he said Guyana since its emergence as a sovereign state in 1966 has been steadfast in its commitment to international law.”
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