Border controversy: President expresses confidence in ICJ despite Venezuela’s rejection

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Venezuela has issued a statement strongly criticising the decision by the United Nations (UN) to refer the border controversy to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), maintaining that the matter should be settled through the 1966 Geneva Agreement.

President David Granger

That statement came swiftly on the heels of the recent pronouncement by the UN that it would be sending the border controversy between Guyana and Venezuela before the ICJ for a judicial settlement, after some two years of mediation.

“The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, faithful to its historical tradition and in accordance with the Bolivarian Diplomacy of Peace, reiterates its firm disposition to defend the territorial integrity of our homeland and maintain political negotiation based on the 1966 Geneva Accord, as the only way to reach a peaceful solution, practical and satisfactory for both parties and in favour of our peoples,” a translated statement from the Bolivian Government outlines.

According to the Venezuelan Administration, the Geneva Agreement provides for a political settlement of the controversy between the neighbouring States, as it reiterates it strong opposition previously expressed on this means of settlement. The February 17, 1966 Agreement gave the UN Secretary General the responsibility to choose a means of peaceful resolution of the dispute and the possibility of finding another way in case it does not succeed.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro

“The Secretary General’s communication goes beyond the successive nature of the means of peaceful settlement established by the Geneva Agreement as a methodology established to reach an acceptable, practical and satisfactory solution to the dispute…The Geneva Agreement itself provides for the political means for the settlement of the territorial dispute. In this sense, Venezuela ratifies in a decisive and unequivocal manner the negotiation process under these means,” it added.

But President David Granger maintains that Venezuela has no legitimate claim to any part of Guyana’s territory. He was adamant that the borders of the two countries were agreed upon and settled via the indisputable 1899 award.

He has also stated that Government intends to retain the “best advice” and “best legal support” for which it will be expending every legal resources to ensure that it has a “proper” defence team to finally settle the issue.

“We are taking one step at a time and we are definitely going to use every legal resource to mobilise funds to ensure that we are properly represented in the ICJ,” he told media operatives on Wednesday when asked about Guyana’s preparation in terms of its legal team.

Since Venezuela’s renewed claim to Guyana’s territory back in 2015, the Government has maintained that the issue is a legal one and needed to be settled via a legal process.

President Granger says he is confident that the ICJ will find the border was correctly defined and demarcated since 1899 in the Arbitral Tribunal Award, which Venezuela is claiming is “null and void”.

The Guyanese leader anticipates that Guyana’s successful defence of its territorial integrity will not only boost local development but investors’ confidence in Guyana especially in light of the impending oil and gas production.

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