Guyana seeks ICJ intervention amid Venezuela’s planned referendum on Essequibo

Guyana's team at the World Court in April 2023 for the ruling in the border controversy case regarding Venezuela's preliminary objection

See full statement from the International Court of Justice: 

Arbitral Award of 3 October 1899 (Guyana v. Venezuela)

Guyana requests the Court to indicate provisional measures

THE HAGUE, 31 October 2023. Yesterday, the Co-operative Republic of Guyana filed in the Registry of the International Court of Justice a Request for the indication of provisional measures in the case concerning Arbitral Award of 3 October 1899 (Guyana v. Venezuela), pursuant to Article 41 of the Statute of the Court.

In its Request, Guyana states that “[o]n 23 October 2023, the Government of Venezuela, through its National Electoral Council, published a list of five questions that it plans to put before the Venezuelan people in a . . . ‘Consultative Referendum’ on 3 December 2023”.

According to the Applicant, the purpose of this referendum is “to obtain responses that would support Venezuela’s decision to abandon [the current proceedings before the Court], and to resort instead to unilateral measures to ‘resolve’ the controversy with Guyana by formally annexing and integrating into Venezuela all of the territory at issue in these proceedings, which comprises more than two-thirds of Guyana”.

Guyana requests the Court to indicate the following provisional measures:


“1. Venezuela shall not proceed with the Consultative Referendum planned for 3 December 2023 in its present form;


  1. In particular, Venezuela shall not include the First, Third or Fifth questions in the Consultative Referendum;


  1. Nor shall Venezuela include within the ‘Consultative Referendum’ planned, or any other public referendum, any question encroaching upon the legal issues to be determined by the Court in its Judgment on the Merits, including (but not limited to): the legal validity and binding effect of the 1899 Award; sovereignty over the territory between the Essequibo River, and the boundary established by the 1899 Award and the 1905 Agreement; and the purported creation of the State of ‘Guayana Esequiba’ and any associated measures, including the granting of Venezuelan citizenship and national identity
  1. Venezuela shall not take any actions that are intended to prepare or allow the exercise of sovereignty or de facto control over any territory that was awarded to British Guiana in the 1899 Arbitral Award.


  1. Venezuela shall refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the Court or make it more difficult to resolve.”