Guyana Files memorial in Border Controversy case before the ICJ

DPI, Guyana, Monday, November 19, 2018

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge earlier today informed the National Assembly that a memorial has been filed with the International Court of Justice in relation to Guyana’s approach to the said court for resolution of the border controversy between itself and Venezuela.

According to the Minister, “Guyana filed its memorial in accordance with the order of the court dated 19th June 2018 that determined that it would first determine the question of the court’s jurisdiction in light of Venezuela’s refusal to participate in the proceedings based on its claims that the court lacks jurisdiction.”

In addition, Minister Greenidge said the memorial was prepared in keeping with the court’s instructions that it should be informed of all the legal and factual grounds on which the parties rely in the matter of its jurisdiction.

“Guyana’s submission accordingly sets out how the boundary with Venezuela was established by an arbitral tribunal constituted pursuant to a treaty concluded by Venezuela and Great Britain in 1897,” the Foreign Affairs Minister explained to the National Assembly.

In addition, Minister Greenidge said the memorial pointed to the fact that, “only decades later did Venezuela in anticipation of Guyana’s independence ceased recognizing the award’s validity and binding effect using the pretext to lay claim to more than two-thirds of Guyana’s territory, in fact, some 77 per cent.”

Following Venezuela’s rejection of proceedings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on its longstanding border controversy with Guyana, the ICJ had said that written pleadings in the matter must first address the question of its jurisdiction and Guyana was given up to November 19, 2018, to file its memorial.

The ICJ, based in The Hague, Netherlands, by an Order dated 19th June 2018 fixed November 19, 2018, and April 18, 2019, as the respective time-limits for the entering of a memorial by Guyana and a counter-memorial by Venezuela.

After decades of the Good Offices process under UN auspices failed to resolve the border controversy, Guyana on March 29, 2018, filed an application with the ICJ requesting that it confirm the legal validity and binding effect of the 1899 arbitral award settling the boundaries between British Guiana and Venezuela.

As a result of Guyana’s application on March 29, the ICJ, in early June, announced that it would receive the Representatives of Venezuela and of Guyana, on June 18, 2018, in order to know the points of view of the parties regarding procedural issues in Georgetown’s move for a juridical settlement of the controversy.

It was at this meeting that Venezuela advised the ICJ that it would not be taking part in the process and did not recognize the court’s jurisdiction.

President of the ICJ, Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, met with representatives of the Parties, on 18 June 2018.

In its Application of March 29 before the ICJ, Guyana requested that the Court adjudge and declare that:

“(a) The 1899 Award is valid and binding upon Guyana and Venezuela, and the boundary established by that Award and the 1905 Agreement is valid and binding upon Guyana and Venezuela;

(b) Guyana enjoys full sovereignty over the territory between the Essequibo River and the boundary established by the 1899 Award and the 1905 Agreement, and Venezuela enjoys full sovereignty over the territory west of that boundary; Guyana and Venezuela are under an obligation to fully respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in accordance with the boundary established by the 1899 Award and the 1905 Agreement;

(c) Venezuela shall immediately withdraw from and cease its occupation of the eastern half of the Island of Ankoko, and each and every other territory which is recognized as Guyana’s sovereign territory in accordance with the 1899 Award and 1905 Agreement;

(d) Venezuela shall refrain from threatening or using force against any person and/or company licensed by Guyana or engage in economic or commercial activity in Guyanese territory as determined by the 1899 Award and 1905 Agreement, or in any maritime areas appurtenant to such territory over which Guyana has sovereignty or exercises sovereign rights, and shall not interfere with any Guyanese or Guyanese-authorised activities in those areas;

(e) Venezuela is internationally responsible for violations of Guyana’s sovereignty and sovereign rights, and for all injuries suffered by Guyana as a consequence.”

Kidackie Amsterdam

Image: Jameel Mohamed

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