Guyana preparing to litigate 1899 Arbitral Award- Greenidge

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Foreign Affairs Minister, Carl Greenidge

The recent exercise to identify the markers demarcating the boundary between Guyana and Venezuela is important as Guyana gears up to litigate the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Second Vice President, Carl Greenidge, during a Region Six outreach on Sunday explained that Guyana is awaiting the final decision from the United Nations Secretary-General (SG), António Guterres, now that another year of the Good Offices Process is winding down.

The SG’s Personal Representative, Norwegian Diplomat, Dag Nylander, is to submit his report on the meetings he facilitated between the two countries to the SG.

The engagements between the UN representative and the South American neighbours was concluded in November. According to Minister Greenidge, there have only been three meetings between the two countries in October since Nylander’s appointment earlier this year.

Minister Greenidge said Guyana has intensified its bilateral activism with other countries to ensure the SG honours his obligations which is “he must refer the matter to the court at the end of 2017 unless there is significant progress in resolving the matter”.

Guyana has maintained that Venezuela’s claims on the nullity of the Award is a legal matter that must be resolved in the court. In 1962, Venezuela refused to recognise the 1899 Arbitral Award saying it was null and void.  “If they are saying a decision is null and void it is only a law court can decide on the meaning of nullity…not whether Venezuela should get a piece more land,” Minister Greenidge said.

The 1966 Geneva Agreement identified the UN SG to resolve the matter using a menu of measures under Article 33 of the UN agreement. “We call on the Secretary-General to look at his mandate and to refer the matter to the highest court in the world, the ICJ,” the Minister said.

The more than 50-year-old controversy has since grown to include Venezuela’s claims to two-thirds of Guyana, Essequibo, and almost all of Guyana’s maritime Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The identification of the boundary marker by the Guyana Defence Force and Police Force is an annual exercise. “It is important to maintain the markers because you don’t want people moving them and shifting them into Guyana so that Venezuela can claim even more territory that is currently the case,” Minister Greenidge said.

The Minster stressed it is important for all Guyanese to take an interest in the resolution of this controversy. “Between the two neighbours (Venezuela and Suriname) if they get their wishes there will be no Guyana and you must understand that,” he said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is expected to intensify its sensitisation of Guyanese on the Guyana Venezuela controversy. The outreach is to supplement booklets that were created to educate Guyanese on the matter.

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