Oral hearings in Guyana/Venezuela border controversy case commence

The first round of oral arguments in the case concerning the 1899 Arbitral Award (Guyana v Venezuela) commenced today at the Peace Palace in The Hague, the seat of the Court.

The hearings are designated for the preliminary objections in the case and are presided over by Judge Joan E. Donoghue, President of the Court.

Representing the country, the Executive Vice-President of Venezuela, Mrs Delcy Eloína Rodriguez, outlined the basics of the country’s preliminary objections, questioning the admission of Guyana’s memorial.

The court validated its jurisdiction over the case in 2020, rendering Venezuela’s postulations that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK ) is an integral part of the case and therefore the court should not exercise jurisdiction in the absence of this party moot.

The border controversy between Guyana and Venezuela is hinged on Venezuela’s contention that the 1899 Arbitrary Award that determined the boundary line between the then British Guiana and Venezuela, is null and void. The subsequent 1966 Geneva Agreement was in response to Venezuela’s 1962 contention, outlining the tactics used to resolve the territorial controversy.

Despite assiduous efforts made to strengthen mediation through the Good Offices Process, very little progress was made towards agreeing. Consequentially, in 2018, Guyana applied to initiate proceedings against Venezuela with the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Guyana is being represented by Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, S.C.; Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira; Agent of Guyana in the case concerning the Arbitral Award of October 3, 1899, Carl Greenidge; Co-Agent and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation , Ambassador Elisabeth Harper; Director of the Frontiers Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Donnette Streete; and Advisor to the Leader of the Opposition on Frontier matters, Ambassador Ronald Austin.

Additionally, Guyana’s legal team is being led by Co-Agent and Counsel, Sir Shridath Ramphal and includes member of the Bars of the United States Supreme Court and the District of Columbia, Paul S. Reichler; Professor Emeritus of the University Paris Nanterre, former Chairman of the International Law Commission and member of the Institut de droit international, Alain Pellet; Professor of International Law at University College, London, Philippe Sands; Professor of International Law and Senior Fellow at Massey College, University of Toronto and member of the Bar of New York, the Law Society of Ontario and the Permanent Court of Arbitration, Payam Akhavan; Professor ordinaire, Université Catholique de Louvain and member of the Institut de Droit International, Foley Hoag LLP and the Bar of Brussels, Pierre d’Argent; member of the Bars of the District of Columbia, the State of New York, England and Wales, and the Law Society of Ontario, Christina L. Beharry; Barrister from Matrix Chambers, London, Edward Craven; member of the Bar of the State of New York, Juan Pablo Hugues Arthur and member of the Bar of the District of Columbia, Isabella F. Uria.

The public hearings will be held from today to Tuesday, November 22, 2022.

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