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Guyana plans to ask ICJ to rule in its favour

Guyana intends to ask the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to rule that a 119-year old award of its border with Venezuela is final, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

That decision by Georgetown follows Venezuela’s announcement earlier Monday that it told the Hague-based World Court that it would not be contesting Guyana’s case there because that court does not have jurisdiction to hear the proceedings instituted by Guyana.

“Guyana observes that under Article 53 of the Statute of the Court, “whenever one of the parties does not appear before the Court, or fails to defend its case, the other Party may call upon the Court to decide in favour of its claim”. Guyana intends to proceed in accordance with the said Article,” the Guyana Foreign Ministry said.

Venezuela maintains that the 1966 Geneva Agreement provides for a mediated rather than a judicial settlement at the ICJ.

At the same time, Guyana hoped that Venezuela would change its mind and appear before the ICJ panel of judges to arrive at a decision. If not, Georgetown said the ICJ could still hand down a ruling that would be binding on both neighbouring South American nations.

“Guyana hopes that, in due course, Venezuela will reconsider its position and decide to appear in Court and defend its case. The Court’s rules allow for that. At the same time, if Venezuela persists in its refusal to participate, the rules provide for the Court to proceed, after a full hearing of the case, to a final judgment that is legally binding on both the participating and nonparticipating parties,” the Foreign Ministry said.

Guyana said it is fully committed to the rule of law in international relations, including the peaceful resolution of disputes in conformity with international law.

“It trusts that the International Court of Justice, the judicial organ of the United Nations, will resolve the controversy with Venezuela in accordance with the law in a manner that is fair and equitable.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated that Guyana fully respects the decision of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to choose the International Court of Justice as the means of settlement of the controversy and is confident that the Court is fully empowered to decide the case.

United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres in February, 2018 referred the border controversy to the ICJ after one year of heightened mediation in 2017, at the request of Guyana, failed to find a resolution. Guyana subsequently instituted proceedings against Venezuela at the World Court.

Venezuela maintains that Essequibo and the waters offshore that county are here, despite the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award that settled the land boudary.

  • Countries: Guyana

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