Guyana/ Venezuela border controversy case filed with ICJ

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Registrar of the International Court of Justice, Philippe Couvreur (left) and Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge (right)

Guyana has today submitted its Application to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) requesting the Court to confirm the legal validity and binding effect of the 1899 Arbitral Award regarding the boundary between Guyana and Venezuela.

This is according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today.

The Application follows the decision of UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, in choosing the ICJ as the next means of resolving the controversy that arose as a result of the Venezuelan contention that the Arbitral Award of 1899 about the frontier between British Guiana and Venezuela was null and void.

According to the Foreign Affairs Statement, in its Application to the Court, “Guyana highlighted that Venezuela had, for more than 60 years, consistently recognized and respected the validity and binding force of the 1899 Award and the 1905 Map agreed by both sides in furtherance of the Award.”

Moreover, it was outlined that Venezuela had only changed its position formally in 1962 as the United Kingdom was making final preparations for the independence of British Guiana and had threatened not to recognize the new State, or its boundaries, unless the United Kingdom agreed to set aside the 1899 Award and cede to Venezuela all of the territory west of the Essequibo River, amounting to some two-thirds of Guyana’s territory.

Guyana’s Application, the release said, notes that while Venezuela has never produced any evidence to justify “its belated repudiation of the 1899 Award, it has used it as an excuse to occupy territory awarded to Guyana in 1899, to inhibit Guyana’s economic development and to violate Guyana’s sovereignty and sovereign rights.”

Sir Shridath Ramphal, who is Guyana’s Legal Adviser on the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy had earlier expressed his confidence in Guyana’s legal team, noting that “the case is in good hands. It is in the hands of the same team that won the judicial proceeding with Suriname. We’re going to work again to finish the job.”

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