Still time for Venezuela to defend border claim at World Court

-Greenidge tells UN Assembly

Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge during his address on Friday

Venezuela still has time to change its mind about not appearing before the Inter-national Court of Justice (ICJ) to defend its claim to five-eighths of Guyana’s sovereign territory, Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge told the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Friday.

“Guyana sincerely hopes that it will change its mind. There is still time for it to do so,” he said.

Expressing gratitude to UN Secretary-General António Guterres for helping to resolve the longstanding matter between Guyana and Venezuela, Greenidge said he looks forward to a final judgment by the ICJ and the rule of law must prevail.

The controversy arose from Venezuela’s contention that the Arbitral Award of 1899 that settled the boundaries between the two countries is null and void.

On January 30th, 2018, he noted, the UN Secretary-General decided that the controversy with Venezuela should be referred to the ICJ. The Secretary-General’s decision, he said, is binding on the parties. 

In March, Guyana filed its application in the ICJ seeking an affirmation of the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award and the international boundary that it established. “Unfortunately, notwithstanding its obligation to do so, Venezuela has thus far refused to participate in the proceedings,” Greenidge said.

“Adherence to the cardinal principles of the sovereign equality of States, respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States, and the peaceful resolution of disputes are the most effective guarantees of peace,” he added.

Full support

Noting that global governance and peace are inextricably linked, he said, Guyana has noted the efforts of the Secretary-General in collaboration with Member States to reform and streamline the machinery of the UN to make it more fit for purpose.

Expressing Guyana’s full support for the reform of the peace and security pillar, with its emphasis on “preventive diplomacy,” he said, “The UN disarmament agenda is a central tenet in our efforts to achieve a stable, secure and peaceful world order.”

Guyana committed to this agenda, he noted, in its recent signing and ratification of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. 

“The onus is on all of us to fulfill the obligations we have taken on ourselves by becoming States Parties to the various legal instruments concerned with questions of disarmament and non-proliferation.”  

For Guyana and the wider Caribbean, Greenidge said, the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and their associated ammunition poses one of the most serious threats to human security and sustainable development.

“International drug trafficking, transnational organised crime, unregulated cyber space, and the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, divert resources that could otherwise be invested in other critical areas,” he added, while noting that Guyana believes that with effective international cooperation and assistance, small countries can tackle this illicit trade and ultimately create a safer world.

Stating that Guyana seeks peace throughout the world as the scourge of war and conflict are an obstacle to development, he reiterated Guyana’s call for a two-State solution to the generational conflict between the peoples of Palestine and Israel. The Middle East region, he noted, gave birth to “the three great monotheistic religions of our age.”

“The people of Pales-tine, including the inhabitants of Gaza, like people everywhere, have a right to life, to a dignified existence and to their own homeland,” he said.

Calling on the international community to take the necessary steps to ensure respect of the human rights of the Rohingya population, he said, Guyana deplores their suffering.

Meanwhile, Guyana salutes the efforts of Bangladesh to provide a safe haven for the refugee population, with the assistance of international agencies, he said.

Reiterating Guyana’s call for the removal of the trade and economic embargo against Cuba, Greenidge said the embargo was frustrating the right of the Cuban people to development and material well-being.

He also expressed Guyana’s satisfaction at the conclusion of the inter-governmental negotiations of a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration that are consistent with the 2030 Agenda and the commitments made in the New York Declaration for Refugees.

Looking forward to the adoption of the Global Compact at the intergovernmental conference to be held in December, 2018 in Marrakesh, Morocco, he said, “It is our hope that this global framework will help to manage international migration flows in all their dimensions for the benefit of all States, sending and receiving, and of migrants themselves.” Guyana is currently receiving an inflow of migrants from Venezuela.

On the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Greenidge said Guyana is engaged in efforts to mainstream and integrate the SDGs into its national development strategy, known as the Green State Development Strategy (GSDS). “The GSDS seeks to ensure that development is not achieved at the expense of the environment and to wean Guyana away from its current near- total dependence on non-renewable sources of energy. We are turning to renewable sources, such as hydroelectricity, wind, solar and biomass,” he explained.

More equitable and just variant

On the value of multilateralism, within which Guyana has operated since independence, he said in spite of it enabling extensive economic development and improvements in human welfare globally since its establishment after World War II, “multilateralism is now under attack in some quarters and there have been recent calls for it to be replaced.”

The rapid expansion in the number of States over the last few decades, he also observed, has contributed to the exponential growth in the number and complexity of decision-making in the system.

Noting that the UN was faced with “stymied Security Council reform,” Greenidge said, “rather than turning to outdated models, solutions based on misconceived economic goals, or some form of national exceptionalism, we need to explore complementary organisational forms and arrangements that could simplify decision-making.”

It may worth exploring other voting rules for decision-making, which he said meant “We need to fashion a more equitable and just variant of multilateralism rather than its replacement.”

Serious proposals, he added, should preserve the valued elements of multilateralism because the more intractable problems countries face are beyond their individual capacity to solve. “It is small wonder then that the Secretary-General in his report on the work of the Organisation asserts that the UN offers a platform where Member States, regional organizations and civil society can find solutions to global problems that no nation acting alone can resolve. Working together is not optional. It is the only answer,” he further noted, before pledging Guyana’s support for the UN’s strategic vision of “Dialogue and the Strengthening of Multilateralism as a Catalyst for the well-being of All Persons in a Sustainable Planet.”

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