CARICOM Foreign Ministers note Guyana’s approach to ICJ on border controversy

The Caribbean Community’s foreign affairs ministers have reiterated support for  Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in its border controversy with Venezuela and have taken note of this country’s move to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for a final resolution of the matter.

The ministers reiterated their “unequivocal support for the maintenance and safeguarding of Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said the communique issued at the just-concluded 21st Meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) held in The Bahamas.COFCOR noted that the Guyana Government filed its application with the ICJ on March 29 in keeping with the January 30 decision by United Nations Secretary General Antonio Gutteres, within the framework of the Geneva Agreement of 1966, to choose the ICJ as the means that is now to be used for the settlement of the controversy between Guyana and Venezuela.

The ministers, the communique said, noted that the Secretary General’s decision, was in keeping with the principles and purposes of the UN Charter, and that it was intended to bring a peaceful and definitive settlement to a longstanding controversy.

With Venezuela reopening its claim in 1962 to Guyana’s territory in the Essequibo, Guyana has stated that a juridical course of action is the only means through which this issue could be resolved. Meanwhile, on the Belize and Guatemala border issue, COFCOR also expressed “their unflinching support for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of Belize.” The meeting received an update on the most recent developments between the two countries. COFCOR expressed concern that the undertaking by both countries and the Organisation of American States (OAS) to engage in the design and development of a mechanism of cooperation for the Sarstoon River, remains outstanding. They reiterated their call for both countries and the OAS to redouble their efforts in this respect.

They expressed hope that both countries will continue advancing their efforts to fulfil all their obligations under the Special Agreement. The Special Agreement makes provision for each country to hold a referendum to decide if the countries should take the issue to the ICJ.

They noted with satisfaction that in keeping with the Special Agreement to Submit Guatemala’s Claim to the ICJ, Guatemala successfully held its referendum on April 15 and that Belize has set April 10, 2019 to hold its referendum.

COFCOR expressed support for the OAS role in the process which is aimed at resolving the dispute arising from Guatemala’s claims on Belize. It also called on the international community to continue supporting the OAS Office in the Adjacency Zone.

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