Sending territorial controversy to ICJ ‘constructive and helpful’ – Sir Ronald Sanders

DPI, GUYANA, Thursday, February 1, 2018

The United Nations (UN) Secretary General’s (SG) referral of the Guyana/Venezuela territorial controversy to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) should be regarded as “constructive and helpful” for all nations in the hemisphere, Ambassador Sir Ronald Sanders said.

Ambassador Sir Ronald Sanders.

In an invited comment, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States and the Organisation of American States, Sir Ronald Sanders told the Department of Public Information (DPI) the decision “is most welcome” since the ICJ “will cast adjudication in a structured and legal framework”.

This is particularly important for small states, like Guyana, that “depend on the international system and the rule of law to safeguard their interest” Sir Sanders, an analyst on Caribbean and Commonwealth matters pointed out.

In 1962, Venezuela claimed that the Arbitral Award of 1899, which established the border it shares with Guyana, is null and void. The two countries, under the 1966 Geneva Agreement, turned to the UN Secretary-General to resolve what became a controversy under the Charter of the UN.

After years of attempts to resolve the controversy, including the use of the Good Offices Process, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, on Tuesday announced he is referring the matter to the ICJ.

Sir Sanders expressed confidence in the ICJ to settle the decades-old controversy between the neighbouring South American countries. “The ICJ has years of experience in adjudicating territorial and maritime issues between nations that can only benefit the specific settlement of the issue,” he stated.

Guyana ‘anxious’ for resolution

In Guyana itself, President David Granger recently pointed out that the territorial controversy “has actually stymied our development in four of our regions”.  Regions One, Seven, Eight and to an extent Nine were identified by the President of having their development obstructed “because of Venezuela’s objections”.

For the first time since Guyana’s independence, an end seems to be in sight for the controversy and the President is confident “that the Award of the Tribunal of 1899 will be vindicated”.  “We are anxious to have this matter go before the Court as quickly as possible,” the President added.

More importantly, the Head of State is confident that the settlement of the controversy will see a growth in the country’s development. “It will contribute to the confidence investors have in coming to Guyana and will contribute to infrastructural development that we have engaged other countries with,”  President Granger said.

The President noted it is important that investors and the international community “know that the threat to Guyana’s territorial integrity will be removed by peaceful judicial means by the ICJ”.

Sir Sanders noted, “peaceful settlement of disputes is vital to the economic progress of the Caribbean region”.


By: Tiffny Rhodius


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