In the 15-page communique issued at the conclusion of the 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government (HOG) of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) that was held at Montego Bay, Jamaica, 4-6 July, 2018, the Guyana and Venezuela border controversy was addressed, among many other things.
According to the document, the CARICOM Heads of Government “reiterated their firm and unswerving support for the maintenance and preservation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Guyana.”
This was after the Heads received an update on the most recent developments between the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
They noted that Guyana had filed its Application with the International Court of Justice on March 29, 2018, in accordance with the decision of the United Nations Secretary General, which was issued on January 30, 2018 to choose the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as the means that is now to be used for the settlement of the controversy between Guyana and Venezuela.
The Heads of Government further noted that Venezuela had indicated its decision not to participate in the case and that in such a case, “the rules of the Court provide for a full hearing of the case and a final judgement that is legally binding on both the participating and nonparticipating countries.”
The CARICOM Heads also expressed support for the judicial process underway which was intended to bring a peaceful and definitive end to the long standing controversy and which was in accordance with the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter.
The ICJ in 2019 is expected to make a determination on whether or not it has jurisdiction to hear the matter relating to the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy.
The delay was based by an objection by Venezuela which said it “does not recognise” the ICJ’s jurisdiction and will not participate in the arbitration.
“It will be sometime after February next year that the court will decide on jurisdiction,” Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge had posited.
Greenidge said that after such time, the court will proceed with the substantive case which could be heard in two years’ time.
Following the decision made by the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, in choosing the ICJ as the next means of resolving the controversy that arose as a result of the Venezuelan contention that the Arbitral Award of 1899 about the frontier between British Guiana and Venezuela was null and void, Greenidge, on March 29, submitted, on behalf of the Government, an application to the ICJ, requesting the Court to confirm the legal validity and binding effect of the 1899 Arbitral Award regarding the boundary between Guyana and Venezuela.
In its Application to the 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.”
Moreover, it was outlined that Venezuela had only changed 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, notes that while Venezuela has never produced any evidence to justify “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.”