ICJ ruling puts Guyana in ‘good stead’ going forward – AG Nandlall

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Friday ordered Venezuela to refrain from taking any action on Guyana’s territory, a significant development that bolsters Guyana’s position in the longstanding border controversy.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC, welcomed the ruling, stating that Guyana is confident in the strength of its case and is optimistic about a favorable outcome in the border case.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC

“We believe it puts us in good stead going forward on this border controversy … this ruling has put us in a much more formidable position than we were in, prior to its delivery,” the attorney general expressed.

Guyana had asked the court to provide provisional measures in the scheduled December 3 referendum by the Venezuelan Government, saying questions in the referendum sought to annex the Essequibo region, which makes up two-thirds of the country.

On December 1, the court ruled unanimously, insisting that Venezuela comply with international law as it is legally binding, preventing Venezuela from taking any actions upon Guyanese territory.

The ICJ’s ruling states that:

  1. The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, shall refrain from taking any action, which would modify the situation that currently prevails in the territory in dispute, whereby the Cooperative Republic of Guyana administers and exercises control over that area.
  2. Both parties must refrain from any action that can aggravate or extend the dispute before the court or make it more difficult to resolve

Alluding to these measures, the Attorney General expressed that justice and diplomacy prevailed.

“There is always a risk when one approaches a court of losing and we had to weigh that risk very seriously … the rule of law has prevailed, justice has prevailed. The court in a very reasoned and clearly expressed judgement made some vert seminal points in granting the relieves sought,” he underscored.

The decades-old border controversy between Guyana and Venezuela is currently before the ICJ also known as the World Court. In 2018, Guyana filed a case with the ICJ, seeking a definitive ruling on the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award, which established the border between the two countries.

After years of fruitless discussions with Venezuela, Guyana sought the ICJ’s intervention to resolve the longstanding controversy. In June 2023, the ICJ ruled by a majority of 14-to-one that it has jurisdiction over the case, a significant development that paved the way for a final resolution.