Guyana Seeking CARICOM Support on Border Dispute with Venezuela

Irfaan-Ali-Guyana

Guyana will use an emergency meeting of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders to seek continued support from the 15-member regional grouping in its border dispute with Venezuela.

The regional leaders were scheduled to meet on Monday to discuss the vaccination issue as they continue to implement measures aimed at containing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed thousands of their nationals and infected many more since the first case was discovered in the region in March last year.

Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali on Sunday said he would seek CARICOM support in light of the recent decision by the Nicolas Maduro government and opposition parties to reach an agreement unifying their claim to the ownership of a significant portion of Guyana.

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Instead of supporting Caracas’s request for bilateral discussions with Georgetown to settle their decades-long claim, Ali told reporters that countries should try to persuade Venezuela to join in the border dispute presently before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

“As far as we are concerned, if they have an engagement, whichever country believes that they have an engagement with Venezuela in resolving their internal issues, they should stick to the internal issues..

“The issue of the controversy that exists in the border has nothing to do with their internal issues and it has already been determined where that issue will be settled and it’s at the ICJ,” Ali added.

Last week, the government said it “firmly rejects” an agreement signed between the Venezuelan government and an opposition party in the South American country formally agreeing to unite on the question of the longstanding claim to the ownership of a large swath of Guyana.

Georgetown said that the agreement between the Nicolas Maduro government and the Unity Platform of Venezuela was signed in Mexico City on Monday.

“That agreement is an overt threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Guyana,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said in a statement.

“Guyana cannot be used as an altar of sacrifice for settlement of Venezuela’s internal political differences. While the Government of Guyana welcomes domestic accord within Venezuela, an agreement defying international law and process is not a basis for mediating harmony,” the statement added.

The agreement was negotiated by delegates from Norway, the Netherlands, Bolivia, Russia, and Turkey.

However, President Ali told reporters that he wants those nations to persuade Venezuela to participate in the ICJ lawsuit.

“What we can ask of those nations is that they urge Venezuela to participate and be active in the ICJ,” he added.

Ali also stated that Guyana’s viewpoint will be communicated at future talks in Mexico City, as well as a meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly later this month.

“This is a controversy. The route in determining it has already been made public. We have embraced that route which is the ICJ and we are committed to that route. That route is the rule of law and that is where the matter resides, not in any sideshow or any other engagement,” he said.

Last December, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) decided that it had jurisdiction to hear Guyana’s claim against Venezuela because the boundary between the two countries was set in an 1899 Arbitral Award. Venezuela opposes the International Court of Justice and its judgment.

Venezuela maintains its claim to an estimated 70% of the Essequibo area, including Guyana’s offshore oil deposits, claiming that the 1899 agreement that established the two nations’ borders is null and invalid.

Guyana, on the other hand, has petitioned the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for a definitive, binding ruling on the 1899 Arbitral Award that established the line between the two nations. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) determined in December 2020 that it had the power to rule on this case.

 

With the court ruling that it has jurisdiction to hear Guyana’s case, the nation now has until March 8, 2022, to file formal pleadings in its lawsuit against Venezuela. Venezuela, however, has until March 8, 2022, to file counterarguments.

Guyana, on the other hand, is attempting to get a definitive and binding judgment stating unequivocally that the Essequibo area is unquestionably a part of this nation.

 

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