National Assembly passes motion to affirm Guyana’s territorial integrity

With unanimous support, the motion to denounce Venezuela’s referendum to annex and integrate the Essequibo region into its territory, and affirm Guyana’s position that Essequibo belongs to Guyana and not Venezuela, was passed in the National Assembly Monday evening.

The motion was presented by Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd, who noted that the sitting represents a commitment to adherence to international law and democracy.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hon. Hugh Todd

“We will not be afraid. We stand on principles; we stand on the right side of the law. We are committed to this process; we want to see it through to its logical conclusion. That is why we are here, united as a people.  This assembly and the people of Guyana agree that the 1899 Arbitral Award is final, perfect, and complete. That is our sovereignty,” the minister told the National Assembly.  

These strong sentiments were echoed by Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira.

Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai, in her contribution, pointed to the impact that Venezuela’s claims to nearly two-thirds of Guyana’s territory has on the indigenous people.

Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai

“We are now a nation on guard more than ever. The threat that has been unleashed on our population should not be taken lightly… If there was ever a time for unity in our country, it is now,” she said.

The government and the opposition agreed to hold this special sitting of the National Assembly to discuss a motion that signifies an unwavering and united front in addressing the issue, as Guyana continues to uphold its position that the 1899 Arbitral Award is the binding and final settlement of the controversy.

The motion proposed that the National Assembly:

-Affirm Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity;

-Reaffirm its recognition and acceptance of the 1899 Arbitral Award, and Article IV of the 1966 Geneva Agreement;

-Denounce as “provocative, unlawful, void, and of no international legal effect”, Venezuela’s purported referendum that is scheduled for December 3, 2023;

-Support the government in its pursuit to ensure a peaceful and lawful resolution to the controversy, and reject the proposal to return to any form of dialogue with Venezuela on the controversy outside of the Court process;

-Support the government’s formal approach for the urgent protection of the ICJ, with the filing of a Request for Provisional Measures for an order preventing Venezuela from taking an action to seize, acquire, encroach upon, or assert sovereignty over the Essequibo Region or any other part of Guyana’s national territory, pending the final decision of the court;

-Call for a deepening of engagements among all national stakeholders on issues relating to Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, within the context of the meetings of the bipartisan Ministerial Advisory Committee on the Guyana/Venezuela Controversy;

-Encourage Guyanese to remain fully engaged on developments relating to the controversy, and;

-Express appreciation to all the stakeholders and international partners that have expressed support or affirmation for Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The Extraordinary Sitting of the National Assembly saw a diverse gathering of parliamentarians, students, members of the diplomatic corps, and other stakeholders, as an integral issue of national importance was brought to the forefront.

Also delivering remarks were the Leader of the Opposition, Aubrey Norton, and Opposition  Members of Parliament Khemraj Ramjattan, Amanza Walton-Desir, Vincent Henry, and Roysdale Forde.