Kaieteur News – The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Friday ordered Venezuela not to take any action that would alter Guyana’s control over its Essequibo region, but did not specifically ban Venezuela from holding its planned referendum on the territory’s future tomorrow.
Venezuela has historically claimed Guyana’s Essequibo region as its own despite its initial acceptance of the 1899 Arbitral Award that gives Guyana control of the Essequibo.
The case finds its genesis in Venezuela’s challenge to the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award of the boundaries that separate the two countries.
After years of fruitless mediation, the two countries were sent to the world court through the United Nation’s (UN) peacekeeping process to settle the controversy once and for all.
However, with the substantive case still pending before the ICJ, the Venezuelan Government took a decision to put the issue to a national vote upon which the country promises to act and possibly annex two-thirds of Guyana’s territory.
As a result, Guyana approached the World Court last month seeking protective orders that would effectively halt parts of the vote, aimed at paving the way for Venezuela to annex the Essequibo region.
It is based on this request that the World Court handed down a unanimous decision by all 15 judges of the ICJ. The ruling is set to effectively block the Spanish-speaking country from taking any action based on the results of its referendum.
In her delivery of the orders, President of the Court, Judge Joan E. Donoghue said that the interim orders were necessary because “Venezuela’s expressed readiness to take action” on the disputed territory “at any moment following the referendum” showed that there is “a real and imminent risk of irreparable prejudice to Guyana’s plausible right, before the court gives its final decision.”
She submitted that if Venezuela proceeds with its scheduled referendum, the “inevitable” affirmative response to the fifth question would lead Venezuela to annex the Essequibo region and to grant Venezuelan citizenship to its inhabitants, causing irreparable harm to Guyana’s rights.
“In Guyana’s view, even a judgment of the Court on the merits upholding the validity of the 1899 Award or settling the boundary dispute in a manner that leaves all or part of the Essequibo region under Guyana’s sovereignty might not be sufficient to protect Guyana’s rights if Venezuela has already annexed that territory,” Justice Donoghue posited.
As such, she noted that “Pending a final decision in the case, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela shall refrain from taking any action which would modify the situation that currently prevails in the territory in dispute, whereby the Co-operative Republic of Guyana administers and exercises control over that area”
The ICJ President said, “Unanimously, both parties shall refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the Court or make it more difficult to resolve.”
Before handing down the decision, Justice Donoghue said the Court, pursuant to Article 41 of its statute, has the power to indicate provisional measures when irreparable prejudice could be caused to rights which are the subject of judicial proceedings or when the alleged disregard of such rights may entail irreparable consequences.
She said too, noted that its orders indicating provisional measures under Article 41 of the Statute have binding effect and thus create international legal obligations for any party to whom the provisional measures are addressed.
Last month, lawyers representing Guyana at the ICJ presented evidence showing the increased military presence of Venezuelan soldiers at the border near Guyana as that neighbouring country moves towards voting in a referendum to seize the Essequibo Region.
Attorney-at-Law, Paul Reichler noted that following its referendum Venezuela plans to inter alia, issue IDs to the people of the Essequibo region.
Professor Reichler said therefore that Guyana’s decision to seek provisional measures swiftly is necessary to block the referendum because of the implications for Guyana’s continued control of Essequibo.
“Urgency is shown by the impending referendum to be held less than three weeks from now, which would be the trigger for the execution of Venezuela’s annexation plans and by the preparations of the national Bolivarian Armed Forces to secure Venezuela’s claim to the territory,” he said.
Reichler had submitted evidence, comprising newspaper articles, video recordings, and statements issued by the President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, the Minister of Defense for the National Armed Forces of Venezuela, Vladimir Padrino Lopez and Colonel Juan Gutierrez Ortiz, of the country’s plan to seize control of two-thirds of Guyana’s territory and reject the Court’s authority to resolve the controversy.
Venezuela has nonetheless remained defiant. Vice President (VP) of that country, Delcy Rodriguez told the court in response to Guyana that nothing will stop the Bolivarian Republic from proceeding with its December 3, 2023, referendum.
Rodriguez said too that Venezuela’s appearance before the ICJ did not constitute it recognizing the jurisdiction of that court but opted to present its arguments to counter “Guyana’s childish manipulation of her country’s historic legal position.”
“Without prejudice to our position and doctrine on jurisdiction. We come before this court to defend independence, sovereignty and self-determination as the inalienable rights of our nation,” she said.
As a result, the VP noted that regardless of what the ICJ says the government will act in accordance with what the people of Venezuela decide.
“No one can deny or divide this right finally, the state of Venezuela will not turn its back on what the people decide during the referendum,” added Rodriguez.
She told the ICJ that Guyana’s move to the World Court to seek to curtail the referendum was “abhorrent and illegal behaviour.”
AUBREY NORTON FRIGHTEN RENEGOTIATION AND RING-FENCING
Feb 27, 2024Kaieteur Sports – The Youth Basketball Guyana (YBG) successfully concluded its 5×5 Challenge Series and Shootout competition on Sunday at the National Gymnasium located on Mandela Avenue....
By Sir Ronald Sanders Kaieteur News – When the Foreign Ministers of the world’s wealthiest nations gathered in Brazil... 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.