Venezuela guilty of breaching international obligations – PM Phillips

Venezuela’s claim to two-thirds of Guyana’s territory is in direct defiance of the principles of international law, and a breach of its obligations within the international community.

Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips asserted this on Monday as he updated the National Assembly on the recent events surrounding the border controversy.

Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips

The prime minister recalled that the Spanish-speaking nation continues to deliberately misinterpret the 1966 Geneva Agreement, which provides for a series of measures to settle the controversy.

Efforts over more than half-a-century, including a four-year Mixed Commission (1966-1970), a twelve-year moratorium (1970-1982), a seven-year process of consultations on a means of settlement (1983-1990), and a twenty-seven-year Good Offices Process under the UN Secretary-General’s authority (1990-2017), have been futile thus far.

“They claim that the Geneva Agreement is the only legal instrument to solve the controversy, and that Guyana should negotiate this solution with Venezuela. Venezuela has never offered any credible support or evidence for its contention of nullity and invalidity of the 1899 Arbitral Award,” the prime minister said.

In rejecting the court’s authority as the means of settlement, Venezuela has also breached its obligations enshrined in the Geneva Agreement.

“Venezuela’s actions also violate the fundamental principles of international law enshrined in Article 2 (4) of the United Nations Charter, which make it unlawful for any state to use or threaten force against the territorial integrity or political independence of another state. The acquisition or attempted acquisition of another state’s territory constitutes aggression which violates obligations under peremptory norms under international law,” PM Phillips noted.

He reminded that while the government is open to dialogue on other matters with Venezuela, issues surrounding the border controversy are off the table.

“This House is unanimous in its resolve that the land boundary is not up for bilateral discussions, and the settlement of the matter is properly in the International Court of Justice, where it must remain until the court gives its final ruling on the merits of the case, which will be fully respected by Guyana,” PM Phillips affirmed.

Recently, with unanimous support, the National Assembly passed the motion to denounce Venezuela’s referendum to annex and integrate the Essequibo region into its territory and affirm Essequibo belongs to Guyana.

Tensions were heightened when the Venezuelan nation announced a referendum that planned to pose five questions to the Venezuelan public.

Questions three and five of this referendum were most concerning, as they sought to annex Guyana’s Essequibo region, and reject the ICJ’s jurisdiction.

On December 1, the ICJ ruled that Venezuela shall refrain from taking any action that would affect Guyana’s control of its Essequibo region, pending the court’s final decision in the case.

However, in open defiance of this ruling, Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, announced administrative measures to annex Essequibo, and gave investors three months to exit the county’s exclusive economic zone.

He has also ordered the state oil company to issue licences to begin extracting crude in the area.

From the inception, diplomacy has been Guyana’s first recourse in response, as the government has been engaging its regional and international partners to solicit support for a peaceful resolution in the face of Venezuela’s aggression.

This effort will continue with the same rigor, the prime minister affirmed.

“The government has not relented on its diplomatic efforts to explain the justness of our position and to reach out to regional and international partners to solicit their support in the face of the direct threat of invasion by Venezuela,” he said.

CARICOM leaders held an emergency conference recently, where suggestions were made for a meeting with President Maduro to be held in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves along with the President of Brazil, and representatives of CARICOM and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) will observe the discourse.

President Ali has since agreed to this meeting, which is set to be held this Thursday.