Guyana, Venezuela in border talks in New York

As the end of year deadline for significant progress to be made in resolving Guyana’s border controversy with Venezuela approaches, a delegation headed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Greenidge and Venezuelan officials are in New York participating in two days of talks organised by the United Nations.

A press release from the Foreign Affairs Ministry stated that the two delegations met yesterday and will meet again today. At the close of press last evening, there was no update on yesterday’s talks.

According to the release, the meeting was organised by Personal Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on the Border Controversy between Guyana and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Dag Halvor Nylander, as part of the fulfillment of his mandate under the Good Offices Process, with the strengthened aspect of mediation, to “actively engage with the Governments of Guyana and Venezuela with a view to exploring and proposing options for a solution to the border controversy between the two countries.”

President David Granger during his address yesterday at the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. (Ministry of the Presidency photo)

In 2015, it was stated the Government of Guyana requested the United Nations Secretary-General to take steps toward a resolution of the controversy using an option from the menu as stated in the Geneva Agreement of 17 February 1966. Further, in 2016, as a consequence of a stalemate on the matter, outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon agreed with his successor, Mr. António Guterres, to continue to use the Good Offices Process until the end of 2017 as a means of arriving at a settlement.

According to the mandate of the Personal Representative, “If, by the end of 2017, the Secretary-General concludes that no significant progress has been made toward arriving at a full agreement for the solution of the controversy, he will choose the International Court of Justice as the next means of settlement, unless the Governments of Guyana and Venezuela jointly request that he refrain from doing so.”

The release informed that since his appointment on February 27 this year, Nylander has visited Guyana four times and held talks with President David Granger and Greenidge, among others.

Further, the release said that in September, the members of the Guyana delegation to the General Debate of the seventy-second session of the United Nations General Assembly met with the Secretary-General as well as Nylander and held informal discussions with their Venezuelan counterparts. The present Good Offices Process has been conducted since 1990.

Venezuela contends that the Arbitral Award of October 3, 1899, demarcating the border between Guyana (British Guiana at the time) and Venezuela is null and void. Consequently, it continues to lay claim to two-thirds of Guyana’s territory, the release said.

Over the last few years, Guyana has argued for a juridical settlement of the controversy, contending that decades of the Good Officer process have resulted in no progress but has allowed Venezuela to interfere with Guyana’s development. Venezuela on the other hand has been pressing for a continuation of the Good Officer process.

Addressing the 72nd Session of the General Assembly of the UN in New York last month, President Granger called on the international community to ensure that Venezuela is not allowed to thwart the processes of judicial settlement of a long-running border controversy with Guyana.

“Guyana warns the world, through this Assembly, that peace will be at stake in our region if justice does not become ascendant, not only within Venezuela, but also in respect to its border controversy with Guyana. Four UN Secretaries-General have been seized of the Venezuelan claims. The choice has become one between just and peaceful settlement in accordance with international law, and a Venezuelan posture of attrition that is increasingly more blustering and militaristic. In this matter, protraction is the enemy of resolution and the ally of sustained conflict,” he had said during his address.

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