The Guyana-Venezuela controversy heads for the world court

By Article IV(1) of the Geneva Agreement of 1966, the Governments of Guyana and Venezuela committed to choosing one of the means of peaceful settlement provided for by Article 33 of the Charter of the United Nations (UN), if the Mixed Commission did not arrive at a full agreement for the settlement of the controversy within four years. Judicial settlement was one of those means under Article 33. But the part of the article providing for the parties to choose the means of settlement is qualified by Article V. It provides that they are to refer the decision of the means of settlement to an “appropriate international organ on which they both agree,” but failing agreement “to the Secretary General of the United Nations.”

After the conclusion of the mandate of the Mixed Commission, the Governments of Guyana, Venezuela and the United Kingdom entered into an agreement known as the Port of Spain Protocol in June, 1970, which suspended the operation of Article IV of the Geneva Agreement for twelve years. This meant effectively that the formal search under Article IV for a resolution of the controversy was suspended for the period. Guyana and Venezuela undertook to “explore all possibilities of better understanding between them.”….

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