ICJ rejects Venezuela’s preliminary objections in border case

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in a 14 to one vote, and based in large part on the 1966 Geneva Agreement, has ruled that the United Kingdom cannot be considered an indispensable party in the Guyana/Venezuela border controversy case, as the agreement indicates that the UK was no longer a participant in any other engagements regarding the case.

President of the International Court of Justice, Judge Joan E. Donoghue read the Court’s judgement on Thursday at a sitting of the Court in Hague.

Judge Donoghue said, “While article one of the agreement describes the dispute as one existing between the United Kingdom and Venezuela, article Two provides no role for the United Kingdom in the initial stage of the dispute settlement process. Rather, it places the responsibility for appointment of the representatives to the mixed commission on British Guiana and Venezuela.

“The court notes that the reference to British Guiana contained in article two, which can be distinguished from references to the United Kingdom contained elsewhere in the treaty and particularly in article one supports the interpretation that the parties to the Geneva agreement intended for Venezuela and British Guiana to have the sole role in the settlement of the dispute through the mechanism of the mixed Commission.”

The court will now proceed to evaluate Guyana’s application with regards to the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award.

In May 2018, Guyana applied to initiate proceedings against Venezuela with the International Court of Justice (ICJ), following decades of assiduous efforts made to strengthen mediation.

The application requested that the court declare that ‘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.’.  It also attested that the 1899 award was a “full, perfect, and final settlement” of all questions related to determining the boundary lines between the colony of British Guiana and Venezuela.

Further, the application presses that “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”.