Redouble efforts to ensure Region is zone of peace – PM Phillips to 2022 PROSUR Summit

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Prime Minister, Brig (ret’d) Mark Phillips (2nd, left) with other leaders at the PROSUR Summit

…says security landscape of region now more complex, evolving

Prime Minister, Retired Brigadier Mark Phillips, during a recent trip to Paraguay for the Forum for the Progress and Integration of South America (PROSUR), used the opportunity to lobby for the support of other Latin American countries in Guyana’s border controversy against Venezuela.

The PROSUR Summit was held under the theme: “International Cooperation in the Fight against Transnational Organised Crime to Guarantee Regional Security and Stability” in Asunción, Paraguay.

During the summit, the Prime Minister warned the other Heads of State of the member and observer countries – which include Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Bolivia and Suriname – that Venezuela is a threat to the entire region and its stability.

Prime Minister, Brig (ret’d) Mark Phillips (2nd, left) with other leaders at the PROSUR Summit

“We can all agree that the security landscape of our region has become ever more complex and is evolving every day.  The region must enhance its efforts to build and consolidate cooperation arrangements in security. We must therefore redouble our efforts to ensure that our region is a zone of peace,” Phillips said.

Phillips also spoke to Guyana’s commitment to combat transnational organised crime. This commitment, he noted, is manifested in Guyana’s membership of regional and hemispheric organisations, including the Caribbean Community (Caricom) Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), the Regional Security Strategy (RSS), INTERPOL and Caribbean Regional Drug Law Enforcement Training Centre (REDTRAC).

“Guyana has taken steps to counter challenges by strengthening and creating the relevant law enforcement institutions. Not only do we have the institutions, but we have laws to deal with the various types of crimes,” Phillips explained.

“Guyana welcomes this discussion and supports the proposal by the Government of Paraguay to establish a course of action in the fight against transnational organised crime, through the exchange of information among security services and international cooperation in the matter.”

Meanwhile, in a Declaration of member countries of PROSUR on Regional Security that followed the meeting, the first thing the Heads of Government agreed on, was the promotion of peace and respect for sovereignty throughout the region.

“The Heads of State and Government and High Representatives of the Republic Federation of Brazil, the Republic of Colombia, the Republic of Ecuador, the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, the Republic of Paraguay, the Republic of Peru and the Republic of Suriname, meeting in the city of Luque, on July 21 of 2022, we declare the following;”

“We reaffirm our commitment to the consolidation of peace, the promotion and protection of the rights [of] humans, the democracy, the strengthening of the principles of solidarity and cooperation and respect for the sovereignty of States, as well as the fight against transnational organised crime and related crimes,” the declaration stated.

Venezuela has laid spurious claims to more than two-thirds of Guyana’s landmass in Essequibo and a portion of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in which almost 11 billion barrels of oil have been discovered over the past seven years.

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 moved to the World Court after exhausting all means of negotiation with Venezuela and the failed good offices process between the two South American neighbours. The Spanish-speaking nation had initially refused to participate in the proceedings and had even challenged the court’s jurisdiction to hear the matter. But in December 2020, the ICJ established that it has jurisdiction to hear the substantive case – something which Venezuela did not accept.

Back in March of this year, Guyana had submitted its written arguments for its memorial to the ICJ, which was a requirement by the court following its December 18, 2020, decision that it had the jurisdiction to hear the case against Venezuela.

Venezuela has since filed an objection, which according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, is nothing more than a bid to delay the substantial hearing of the 1899 Arbitral award case before the ICJ, after refusing to join the proceedings since 2018.