President David Granger in his address to the 72nd session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN), on Wednesday dealt with, among things, the Guyana and Venezuela border controversy where he detailed the aggressive posture being taken by the neighbouring country over its claims to Guyana’s territory.
Touching on the topic of peace and the need for the UN to proliferate the same, the President said that “striving for peace’ must aim at resolving long-standing inter-state conflicts.”
To that end, Granger said “I addressed this Honourable Assembly last September, explaining the danger we have been facing on our borders as a consequence of the territorial claims of our western neighbour – the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. I laid before the world’s nations the peril Guyana was enduring on its borders at the hands of Venezuela.
“Venezuela’s claim to Guyana’s territory, however, has not diminished or been diverted. Guyana remains imperilled. Disturbing developments within Venezuela have attracted the world’s attention and roused the concerns of many of us over the privations of its people.”
He continued “The Caribbean people wish for the Caribbean to be a Zone of Peace. The Venezuelan claim to Guyana’s territorial integrity, however, would be a threat to that zone. Venezuela is more than four times the size of Guyana. Venezuela, however, claims two-thirds of Guyana’s territory including our maritime space.We depend on our territorial and maritime resources for development and for the release of our people from poverty.”
Addressing the UN Assembly, the President posited that “the Venezuelan claim persists after fifty-one years of Independence. An eminent international Arbitral Tribunal provided ‘a full, perfect and final settlement’ 118 years ago in 1899. Venezuela denounced that Arbitral Award in 1962 at the Decolonisation Committee of this Assembly as British Guiana strove for its Independence. Guyana warns the world, through this Assembly, that peace will be at stake in our region if justice does not become ascendant, not only within Venezuela, but also in respect to its border controversy with Guyana.”
The President reminded the UN Assembly that Venezuela’s claims have persisted under four UN Secretaries-General, while highlighting that even though Guyana has been promulgating a ‘just and peaceful settlement in accordance with international law,’ Venezuela’s posture of “attrition” has become more “blustering and militaristic”.
Venezuela in June of 2015 blustered its claim to Guyana’s territory, this time by including an area where US oil giant ExxonMobil discovered oil.
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro had issued an official decree creating the “Atlantic coast of Venezuela” which now includes “sovereignty” over Guyana’s territorial waters in the Atlantic Ocean off the Essequibo region.
Subtly calling on the UN to act against Venezuela’s “blustering and militaristic” posture, the President in his speech said “protraction is the enemy of resolution and the ally of sustained conflict.”
Nevertheless, President Granger in his speech expressed optimism at the publicly indicated decisions of the former Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and current Secretary General António Guterres, enshrined under the 1966 Geneva Agreement, that if by the end of the year 2017 significant progress has not been made towards arriving at a full agreement for the settlement of the controversy, the International Court of Justice will be the next means of peaceful settlement, unless Guyana and Venezuela jointly request otherwise.
“Guyana looks to the international community to ensure that Venezuela is not allowed to thwart the processes of judicial settlement which is the clear and agreed path to peace and justice” said President Granger.