Government Confident of Victory at ICJ in Border Dispute with Venezuela

President David Granger

GEORGETOWN, Guyana – The Guyana government says it is confident of victory at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its long standing border dispute with neighbouring Venezuela.

“Our coalition government has been reasserting, forcefully, respect for our sovereignty and territorial integrity. Guyana, in the face of provocation, launched sustained engagements aimed at garnering international support for respect for our sovereignty and territorial integrity,” President David Granger told the 20th Biennial Delegates Congress of the People’s National Congress/Reform (PNCR).

In January, United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres recommended that the Guyana – Venezuela border dispute be referred to the ICJ after a year of talks failed to make progress.

UN representative Dag Halvor Nylander from Norway had been appointed by the UN to help broker a settlement by the end of 2017, however it was concluded that significant progress had not been made towards arriving at a full agreement for the resolution of the dispute.

The century long border dispute escalated in May 2015 when oil was found in disputed waters off the coast of Venezuela.

Guyana’s foreign ministry has welcomed the decision, stating that the ICJ is the “appropriate forum for the peaceful and definitive settlement of the controversy, and is pleased that that view has prevailed under the process.”

But Venezuela, in June through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs Venezuela expressed its decision to not participate in the procedure before the ICJ.

“The Venezuelan delegation has informed the president of the court, through a letter signed by the President of the Republic, Nicolás Maduro Moros, of its sovereign decision not to participate in the procedure that Guyana intends to initiate, since the Court manifestly lacks jurisdiction over an action unilaterally proposed by the neighbouring country, which does not have the consent of Venezuela,” the statement from the Foreign Ministry noted.

Granger said that the government is confident while it anticipates the ruling from the ICJ on the border dispute that will reaffirm the “Award regarding the Boundary between the Colony of British Guiana and the United States of Venezuela of 1899” and reassert the invalidity of Venezuela’s claim to Guyana’s territory.

Granger reminded delegates of his coalition government’s efforts to bring the controversy to a peaceful and legal end, describing the case’s referral to the ICJ as one of the country’s greatest diplomatic achievements.

During his address, Granger also made reference to the ongoing political situation in Venezuela where opposition forces are seeking to remove the Maduro government, staging street demonstrations.

He said the situation is impacting Guyana given the scores of Venezuelan migrants entering the country, mainly through the Barima-Waini Region.

He said the Department of Citizenship, which falls under the purview of the Ministry of the Presidency, is ensuring that the influx of Venezuelans is humanely managed in accordance with international best practices.

Granger also re-affirmed Guyana’s relationship with its neighbours, saying the foreign policy is the basis for the pursuit of national interest in the international community.

“We value our close ties with friendly states, including those within the Caribbean Community and the Federative Republic of Brazil whose support has been pivotal to ensuring respect for our nation’s security,” he noted.

Reference was made to Guyana’s strengthened relations with Asia, China and the wider world with the country’s recent membership of the International Solar Alliance, the signing the Memorandum of Understanding with the People’s Republic of China, within the framework of “China’s Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st century Maritime Silk Road” as testimony to deepening cooperation.

“Our coalition government is proud of its record of achievements. It has brought about measurable and substantive change. It has made itself into an indispensable vehicle for continued national transformation,” President Granger said. – CMC