Guyana has no intention of dropping ICJ case to engage Venezuela – Greenidge

Guyana’s co-agent Carl Greenidge

…as country gears up for Venezuela’s referendum court challenge

Guyana’s co-agent in the Venezuela border case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Carl Greenidge, has assured that Government remains focused on obtaining a final, binding judgement from the World Court regardless of Venezuela’s efforts to distract Guyana.

A special sitting of the National Assembly to discuss the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy got underway on Monday. Greenidge, who is Guyana’s co-agent on the case alongside fellow co-agent Sir Shridath Ramphal, was present at the sitting.


In an interview with the media, he assured that the Government has no intention of abandoning the legal process which has already begun and engaging Venezuela outside of the court. Greenidge also spoke about the November 14 upcoming case before the ICJ where Guyana is seeking an injunction against Venezuela’s efforts to annex Essequibo via a referendum planned for December 3.

According to Greenidge, the referendum itself is problematic because it contains clauses that are in flagrant violation of international law. He noted that Guyana will bring very forceful arguments in this regard.

“As regards the referendum itself, the point is in normal circumstances one couldn’t give a hoot what another country decides to do with regards to a referendum. But a referendum is a little bit like the exercise of freedom. Your right to do and say things ends… if those rights affect me,” Greenidge said.

“And what we are looking at here, particularly in regards to questions one, three and five, are efforts on the part of the Venezuelan Government, to have its electorate pronounce on matters related to both the treaty and the work of the court and the wellbeing of Guyanese,” he added.

Outside of the referendum, however, Greenidge noted that Guyana has major problems with the actions Venezuela has taken in the lead-up to December 3, when the referendum is scheduled to take place. Guyana’s co-agent noted that all of this will be brought to the World Court’s attention.

“The referendum, as is usual with these things, is part of a scenario. In other words, maybe if it was the referendum alone it would be bad enough. But if you look at what has been happening over the past few months, you will find the referendum is one of many things that we are concerned about,” the co-agent explained.

“And included amongst those things is the arrangements being made on the Venezuelan side, along with very hostile language, for the movement of troops on our borders. Actions which affect the stability and also the wellbeing of Guyanese, especially those in the area bordering Venezuela, in the North West, North East in particular. And that’s one part of the battle.”

Last month, the Venezuelan National Electoral Council published a list of five questions it plans to put before the Venezuelan people in a referendum set for December 3, 2023. One question (#5) proposes the creation of Venezuelan State of Guyana Essequibo and an accelerated plan for giving Venezuelan citizenship and identity cards to the Guyanese population.

After years of failed good offices process, Guyana approached the World Court in 2018, seeking a final and binding judgement to reinforce that the 1899 Arbitral Award remains valid and binding on all parties, as well as legal affirmation that Guyana’s Essequibo region, which contains much of the country’s natural resources, belongs to Guyana and not Venezuela.

Guyana’s Spanish-speaking neighbour has laid claim to more than two-thirds of Guyana’s landmass in the Essequibo region, and to a portion of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in which nearly 11 billion barrels of oil have been discovered largely by United States oil giant ExxonMobil.

Venezuela has accused the Guyana Government of being a puppet of ExxonMobil and the US Southern Command. And Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has called on President Dr Irfaan Ali to abandon the ICJ process and engage in bilateral discussions with Venezuela, mediated by the Caribbean Community (Caricom). The Guyana Government has, however, already declared its commitment to resolving this longstanding border controversy with Venezuela through the legal process at the World Court.

Over the past few weeks, Guyana has been informing regional and international partners of Venezuela’s planned referendum, which has been criticised by the United States, Caricom, and the Organisation of American States (OAS), as well as several other nations in the Region, including Brazil. There is a consensus that Venezuela’s referendum threatens the peace, security and stability of the Region.