In addressing the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly Debate on Wednesday,Guyana’s President David Granger said since he addressed the Assembly last year, Venezuela’s claim to Guyana’s territory “has not diminished or been diverted.”
“Guyana remains imperiled,” he said, adding that “disturbing developments within Venezuela have attracted the world’s attention and roused the concerns of many of us over the privations of its people.”
Granger said while the Caribbean people wish for the Caribbean to be a “Zone of Peace,” Venezuelan claim to Guyana’s territorial integrity, however, would be “a threat to that zone.”
“Venezuela is more than four times the size of Guyana. Venezuela, however, claims two-thirds ofGuyana’s territory, including our maritime space.We depend on our territorial and maritime resources for development and for the release of our people from poverty,” he said.
The Guyanese president said the Venezuelan claim has persisted after 51 years of Guyanese independence.
He said an eminent international Arbitral Tribunal provided “a full, perfect and final settlement” 118 years ago, in 1899, and that Venezuela denounced that Arbitral Award in 1962 at the Decolonization Committee of the UN General Assembly as the then British Guiana strove for its independence.
“Guyana warns the world, through this Assembly, that peace will be at stake in our region if justice does not become ascendant, not only within Venezuela but also in respect to its border controversy with Guyana,” Granger said.
“Four UN Secretaries-General have been seized of the Venezuelan claims,” he added.
“The choice has become one between just and peaceful settlement in accordance with international law,and a Venezuelan posture of attrition that is increasingly more blustering and militaristic. In this matter, protraction is the enemy of resolution and the ally of sustained conflict.”
Fortunately, as they indicated publicly, Granger said former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and current Secretary General Antonio Guterres have decided that, under the 1966 Geneva Agreement, if by the end of the year 2017 significant progress has not been made toward arriving at a full agreement for the settlement of the controversy, the International Court of Justice will be the next means of peaceful settlement, unless Guyana and Venezuela jointly request otherwise.
Granger said Guyana has been “working assiduously” with the UN Secretary General’s Personal Representative on the Guyana-Venezuela border issues, adding that Guyana looks to the international community “to ensure that Venezuela is not allowed to thwart the processes of judicial settlement, which are the clear and agreed path to peace and justice.”
In stating that striving for peace must aim at resolving long-standing inter-state conflicts, the Guyana president supports calls for the reform of the UN Security Council “to give even greater voice to developing countries.and a Venezuelan posture of attrition that is increasingly more blustering and militaristic. In this matter, protraction is the enemy of resolution and the ally of sustained conflict.”
He also reiterated Guyana’s support for a two-state solution to the Palestine-Israeli conflict, affirming the right of the Palestinian people to “a homeland and to a dignified existence.” In addition, Granger demanded “the withdrawal of the injurious economic embargo against the Caribbean island of Cuba,” stating that the embargo “frustrates that state’s right to development.”
On climate change, he said the issues is “not a fiction or the invention of a few extremists,” adding that the small-island states of the Caribbean and parts of North America have “felt the devastating fury of a series of hurricanes – Harvey, Irma,Jose, Katia, Lee and Maria – to whose frequency and ferocity mankind has contributed through the reckless exploitation of earth’s resources.”
He noted that Hurricane Irma was a “deadly, destructive portent of the extreme vulnerability and fragility of the small-island developing and low-lying coastal states of the Caribbean.”
Granger said Guyana is playing its part, within the limits of its resources, to provide relief to affected populations in sister Caribbean states.
He said Guyana “signed and celebrated” the Paris Agreement on climate change last year in the UN General Assembly, and that this country renews its commitment to the climate change goals this year.
“This is demonstrated most positively in Guyana’s pioneering role in global environmental stewardship,” Granger said, that Guyana, in 1989 – three years before the Rio Conference of 1992 – had the foresight to enter into an environmental covenant with the international community by dedicating 360,000 hectares of its rainforest “to develop, demonstrate and make available to Guyana and the international community, systems, methods and techniques for the sustainable utilization of the multiple resources of the tropical forests and the conservation of biological diversity.”
He said that 20 years after that international initiative, Guyana entered an agreement with the Kingdom of Norway “to work together to provide the world with a relevant, replicable model of how Reducing Emissions and Forest Degradation, plus conservation and sustainable forest management (REDD+) can align the development objectives of forest countries with the need to combat climate change.”
Granger noted that Guyana is part of the “Guiana Shield”, stating that it is one of the world’s “last remaining blocks of pristine rainforest.”
He said the Shield is the source of 15 percent of the world’s freshwater reserves, and that the Shield’s biodiversity provides ecosystem services such as food, freshwater and medicinal products.
The Shield, among other things, provides environmental services such as the regulation of the water cycle, water quality and pollination.He, therefore, called on the United Nations to help protect and preserve the “Guiana Shield as a global resource for the survival and sustainability of our planet.”
The Guyanese president said that the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) “represent our collective desire and determination to eradicate hunger and poverty from our planet while promoting equal opportunities in education, employment and social justice for both men and women.”
He said the adoption of the SDGs has “catalyzed our aspirations for a better world into concrete and forward-looking actions and objectives.”
Granger said the respective goals “seek to promote respect for the inherent dignity of people and their rights as human beings.”
But he said the advancement of these goals is “being obstructed by the incidence of human rights violations and the involuntary migration of people from their homelands and by terrorism and warfare.”
Granger said, therefore, that the challenge to the UN is to resolve to reinforce respect for the rights of citizens within the governance structures of member-states.
- Countries: Guyana