The Guyana Government has been formally notified moments ago of the decision by the United Nations Secretary General (SG), António Guterres to refer the settlement of the Guyana/Venezuela border controversy to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
President David Granger is expected to address the nation later today on the matter.
Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge had said that a decision from the UN is expected shortly.
Through the SG’s personal representative, Norwegian diplomat Dag Nylander, Guyana and Venezuela concluded another round of discussions in November 2017. Nylander had to submit his reports on the talks to the SG at the end of December 2017 before a decision is handed down.
The decades old controversy between the neighbouring countries began in 1962 when Venezuela claimed that the 1899 Arbitral Award, which established the Guyana-Venezuela border, is null and void.
Relations between Guyana and Venezuela have worsened ever since oil giant ExxonMobil announced in 2015 that it has found oil in Guyana. Venezuela has staunchly been against oil exploration in Guyana’s Stabroek Block, where ExxonMobil found multiple oil deposits.
In fact, Venezuela’s National Assembly had approved an agreement to reject the oil exploration activities in March 2017.
Venezuela, with almost 40 times the population of Guyana and a territory that is several times bigger, claimed in 1968 the entire territorial sea of Guyana by means of the Leoni Decree, which has never been withdrawn.
In 2015, the Government of Guyana requested then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to take steps towards resolving the controversy. In 2016, because of a stalemate on the matter, the outgoing Ban Ki-moon agreed with his successor, Guterres, to continue to use the Good Offices Process until the end of 2017 as a means of arriving at a settlement.
It is with this intention that Guterres appointed Nylander as an envoy to resolve the border controversy. According to the mandate of the Personal Representative, “If, by the end of 2017, the Secretary-General concludes that no significant progress has been made towards arriving at a full agreement for the solution of the controversy, he will choose the International Court of Justice as the next means of settlement, unless the Governments of Guyana and Venezuela jointly request that he refrain from doing so.”
Guyana has maintained that the only way to settle the controversy is by way of a juridical settlement at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).