President confident Venezuela border controversy headed for legal resolution

As the end-of-year deadline for substantial pro-gress on the Venezuela border controversy looms, President David Granger last Friday expressed confidence that Guyana has a good case for the legal resolution of the matter.

“This monkey has been on our backs for 51 years and we hope to go into the new year with a very clear idea that the matter can be resolved under the law. As far as we are concerned Guyana has every legal right…the Venezuelans have not been able to advance any evidence to show that the (1899) tribunal award (settling boundaries) was void”, Granger said during a press conference which was held at the Ministry of the Presidency.

He was responding to a question on how prepared Guyana is at this point to move to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) if this is announced by the United Nations (UN).

Granger in his response said that Guyana remains “hopeful” that the current UN Secretary General (SG), Antonio Guterres will do what the previous SG Ban Ki-moon had committed to do, that is should there be no satisfactory progress in the Good Offices process between the Bolivarian Republic of Venzuela and the Co-operative Republic of Guyana by the end of this year, the matter will be referred to the International Court. He said that government hopes that the current SG will fulfil that requirement.

Carl Greenidge

“We are working on it and as far as the negotiations are concerned, the Foreign Minister remains engaged with the personal representative of the Secretary General …and the Secretary General himself”, he said, adding that if it becomes necessary he (Granger) will met with the SG again.

“We are confident that we are on good ground”, the president stressed.

On December 16, 2016, in a much-anticipated decision, Ban decided that the Good Offices process on the decades-old border controversy would be given one more year and if by the end of 2017 “significant progress” was not made, the case would move to the ICJ also known as the World Court in The Hague, the Netherlands. Despite several rounds of meetings between the two sides, it doesn’t appear as if substantial progress has been made on resolving the controversy.

In October, the foreign ministers of Guyana and Venezuela met in New York and had discussions facilitated by Dag Nylander, Personal Repre-sentative of the SG, organized within the framework of the Good Offices mandate. Earlier this month a Guyana delegation led by Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge met with Nylander in Antigua. No details on the outcome of this meeting have since been disclosed.

Greenidge had said that he is optimistic that Nylander will complete his work and that the SG will make a determination in keeping with his previous commitment. We are looking at a process at some point to resolve the question of the validity of the actual award. I mean sometimes in the public you get the impression that a decision is being made as to where the border lies. The actual award is ultimately about the borders but it is really a decision of whether the (tribunal)  somehow, in making this decision, had acted inappropriately or in a manner that was in keeping with the law,” Greenidge said on December 6 during his contribution to the budget debate. Over the last few years, Guyana has argued for a juridical settlement of the controversy, contending that decades of the Good Offices 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 Offices process.

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