Venezuela to boycott ICJ arbitration of border controversy case

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The Venezuela Government has issued a Communique, on Monday, outlining, inter alia, its decision to not participate in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) arbitration following a decision made by UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, in choosing the Court 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.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (Photo: AFP)

According to the Communique, a meeting was held with the President of the ICJ Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf earlier on Monday. There, the Venezuelan delegation which included the country’s Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Montserrat informed the ICJ of the position.

Moreover, the delegation reiterated its position of returning to the good officers process with Guyana.

“The Venezuelan delegation, upon presenting its respects for such an honourable international justice body, has communicated to the President of the Court, through a letter signed by the President of the Republic, Nicolas Maduro Moros, the sovereign decision of Venezuela of not taking part in the action that has been unilaterally filed by our neighbouring country without Venezuela’s consent” said the Communique.

File photo: Foreign Affairs Minister, Carl Greenidge gesturing to Guyana’s map

Following the decision made by the UN Secretary General,  Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge, on March 29, submitted, on behalf of the Government, an application to the ICJ, requesting the Court to confirm the legal validity and binding effect of the 1899 Arbitral Award regarding the boundary between Guyana and Venezuela.

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” a statement from Guyana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

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, 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.”

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