Commonwealth backing UN SG to choose means of settling border controversy with Venezuela – communique

Commonwealth Heads of Government have expressed full support for the UN Secretary General to choose the means of a settlement of Guyana’s border controversy with Venezuela.

The Commonwealth position was contained in the Communique issued today following the Heads of Government meeting in Malta which began on Friday.

The Commonwealth statement in today’s communique is seen as important as Guyana has been lobbying for a juridical settlement to the controversy and only the UN Secretary General can make this determination. Venezuela on the other hand wants to continue with the UN Good Office process which has yielded no result over several decades.

The border controversy escalated in May this year when Venezuela issued a maritime decree claiming most of Guyana’s Atlantic waters. Since then Guyana has mounted an intense international campaign to rebuff Venezuela’s claims and to articulate the position that a juridical settlement was now necessary.

After May, Guyana had written to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon seeking a juridical settlement to the controversy. The Secretary-General has since dispatched several missions to both Guyana and Venezuela to discuss the way forward.

The excerpt in the communique on Guyana follows:

Heads noted that the Geneva Agreement of 1966 between the Parties provides a range of mechanisms for an expeditious solution to the controversy arising from Venezuela’s contention of invalidity of the 1899 Arbitral Award, which definitively settled the land boundary between Co-operative Republic of Guyana and Venezuela. Heads expressed their full support for the United Nations Secretary General to choose a means of settlement in keeping with the provisions of the Geneva Agreement of 1966, to bring the controversy to a definitive end. Heads endorsed the outcome statement of the Commonwealth Ministerial Group on Guyana following its meeting in September 2015, and reaffirmed their unequivocal support for the maintenance and safeguarding of Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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