Guyana rejects Venezuela’s new border claims; President Ali calls it a “legal nullity”

President of Guyana Dr Irfaan Ali                                     President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro
President of Guyana Dr Irfaan Ali                                              President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro

Days before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is scheduled to hold a case management hearing on Guyana’s application for a final and binding settlement of the border controversy with Venezuela, the NicolásMaduro government on January 7, 2021 issued a new Decree to claim for itself, the land and seabed west of the Essequibo Coast.

In a special address to the Nation, this afternoon (Saturday, January 9, 2021) President Dr. Irfaan Ali staunchly rejected this new claim by Venezuela, calling it a “legal nullity” that will not be recognised by Guyana or any other state in the world.

According to Ali, Guyana has always chosen to have the issue resolved within international law. He, therefore, described the Maduro government’s latest statements as “deeply disturbing” but made it clear that they would not deter Guyana from seeking a final, binding resolution at the ICJ.

“I find it deeply disturbing that on January 7, the President of Venezuela issued a decree claiming for Venezuela’s sovereignty an exclusive sovereign right to the waters and seabed adjacent to Guyana’s coast West of the Essequibo river.”

“I remind that sovereignty over this coast and the land it is attached to was awarded to Guyana, then British Guiana, in the 1899 arbitral award, whose validity Guyana is confident the ICJ will uphold unequivocally,” the Guyanese Head of State posited.

Ali explained that Venezuela’s decree breaches fundamental principles of International law, including the fact that no nation can determine its own boundaries, except through an agreement with its neighbors or a judgment from the international court.