Venezuela tells World Court won’t take part in Guyana’s application over border controversy

Venezuela today told the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that it will not take part in proceedings brought by Guyana for juridical settlement of a long-running border controversy.

In a communique today, the Venezuelan foreign ministry said that a high-level delegation  headed by Executive Vice President, Delcy Rodriguez Gomez today delivered a letter to the court signed by President Nicolas Maduro Moros notifying of the “sovereign decision of Venezuela of not taking part in the action that has been unilaterally filed by our neighbouring country without Venezuela’s consent”.

Venezuela said its decision today is consistent with its historical position of not recognizing the jurisdiction of such an international body and particularly as it relates to the border controversy.

Venezuela in the communique today renewed its offer to Guyana for continuing bilateral talks “with the broadest, most sincere and best willingness to reach a settlement which may be practical and satisfactory for both parties, as intended by the 1966 Geneva Agreement”. Guyana has already rejected this

All eyes will now be on the court following Venezuela’s decision.

The ICJ had invited Caracas and Georgetown to The Hague today for their views on the way forward following Guyana’s application to the court.

On March 29, Guyana filed an application with the ICJ requesting that it confirm the legal validity and binding effect of the 1899 Arbitral Award on the boundary between Guyana and Venezuela.

The application followed the decision by the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to choose the ICJ as the next means of resolving the controversy following Venezuela’s contention that the Arbitral Award of 1899 was null and void.

In its application to the Holland-based court, Guyana highlighted that Venezuela had for more than 60 years “consistently recognized and respected the validity and binding force of the 1899 Award and the 1905 Map agreed by both sides in furtherance of the Award”.

Venezuela had only altered its position formally in 1962 as the United Kingdom was making final preparations for the independence of British Guiana and “had threatened not to recognize the new State, or its boundaries, unless the United Kingdom agreed to set aside the 1899 Award and cede to Venezuela all of the territory west of the Essequibo River, amounting to some two-thirds of Guyana’s territory”.

Guyana’s application also notes that while Venezuela has never produced any evidence to substantiate its belated repudiation of the 1899 Award, “it has used it as an excuse to occupy territory awarded to Guyana in 1899, to inhibit Guyana’s economic development and to violate Guyana’s sovereignty and sovereign rights”.

It further asserted that the UN Secretary-General’s authority to choose the ICJ – based in The Hague – as a means of resolving the controversy is based on the Geneva Agreement of 1966 which was negotiated just before Guyana gained independence.

On January 30th 2018, Guterres concluded that the Good Offices process which the two countries had engaged in for almost 30 years had failed to achieve a solution to the controversy and therefore chose the ICJ as the next means of settlement.

The application was handed over to Registrar of the ICJ, Philippe Couvreur by Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge who will function as Guyana’s Agent in the proceedings before the court.

One day later on May 30 Venezuela rejected the referral dubbing any decision by the court as “unenforceable.” Instead that country proposed a restart of diplomatic contact to reach a resolution.

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