ICJ decision on border controversy will be binding – Sir Shridath

The ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy will be binding, foreign policy expect and Legal Advisor to the government, Sir Shridath Ramphal says.

“The decision of the court will be binding. It is not going to be in an advisory capacity,” the foreign policy expert yesterday told reporters on the sidelines of the oil and gas conference, being held at the Marriott Hotel.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Greenidge has said that government is diligently working to prepare its case on the Venezuela border controversy for the World Court secure in the knowledge that Guyana’s western neighbour will have to comply with the ruling of the international legal body.

“It’s an international treaty and you are obliged under the UN framework itself to honour treaty obligations and to honour the international law,” Greenidge said earlier this week.

According to its statutes as explained on its website, the World Court is able to entertain two types of cases those which are contentious or advisory proceedings.

But Sir Shridath says that while there have been some persons discussing an advisory position on the matter this was not the case in this instance.

“Unfortunately some pretty wild things have been said in Guyana which are far from legally accurate and this totally is different from the advisory position that is possible under the Charter. This is not an advisory opinion under the charter and under the Geneva Agreement (aimed at settling the controversy),” he stressed.

“Don’t be misguided by these wild opinions. This is not a time for Guyana to argue these opinions in Guyana with Guyana,” he added.

He also said that “Guyana is moving forward” with plans to submit its case but that the public should not expect to get explicit details of the preparations or reportage on the court proceedings as sensitivity and legalities would govern how information is given.

“As Guyanese you mustn’t accept the political or legal to engage in public decisions. You don’t go to court and talk at the same time. When the court proceedings begin there will be a lot more silence and that is in the interest of Guyana,” he asserted, even as he urged that government “reassemble the team” that was successful in the Guyana-Suriname maritime case.

Further, he urged that Guyanese not take up a celebratory position on the United Nations Secretary General’s decision to refer the controversy to the ICJ  but be patient and modest as it awaits the ICJ’s ruling. “I think it is very important that we be modest, we are not celebratory. We are going to be modest, serious and professional and move forward”, he said.

The diplomat pointed out that to gauge a timeframe for the ICJ’s ruling would be difficult as it would be based on a number of issues.

“It can depend on what Venezuela ultimately does. That can determine the length of the time, the character of the proceedings. It could be shorter if they say persistent things that they’re not involved. If they change their minds and it is a full-fledged hearing, then it could be longer,” he said.

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