A public sitting of the Court will take place at 3:00 p.m. at the Peace Palace in The Hague, during which the President of the ICJ, Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, will read out the Court’s decision.
In view of the current COVID-19 pandemic, only Members of the Court and representatives of the Parties will be present in the Great Hall of Justice. Members of the diplomatic corps, the media and public will be able to follow the reading through a live webcast on the Court’s website, as well as on UN Web TV.
On June 30 this year the public hearing on the question of the Court’s jurisdiction in the case concerning the Arbitral Award of 3O ctober 1899 (Guyana v.Venezuela) was held when oral arguments in the case were presented by the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela did not participate in the hearing.
In view of the current COVID-19 pandemic, some Members of the Court attended the hearing in person in the Great Hall of Justice, while others participated remotely via video link.
The delegation of Guyana, led by Carl B. Greenidge, as Agent, and Sir Shridath Ramphal and H.E. Ms Audrey Waddell, Ambassador, as Co-Agents, addressed the Court by video link.
Sir Shridath told the Court that Guyana’s case on the Court having jurisdiction is based on the plain text of the 1966 Geneva Agreement by which the parties consented to accept the decision of the UN Secretary-General on the means of settlement of their dispute over the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award.
He said that included judicial settlement by the International Court of Justice and that the dispute is settled by the ICJ once it is the means for settlement chosen by the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
According to Sir Shridath, Venezuela’s contention that the Court lacks jurisdiction is without any foundation, adding that the Court has jurisdiction to proceed to the merits of the case that is before it.
“Almost 60 years of Venezuela trying and failing to spoil the sanctity of the Treaty of Washington and to nullify the Paris Award, the Secretary-General of the United Nations indicated to the Presidents of Guyana and Venezuela in these words and I quote ‘I have fulfilled the responsibility that has fallen on me within the framework set by my predecessor and significant progress not having been made toward arriving at a full agreement for dissolution of the controversy, I have chosen the International Court of Justice as the means that is now to be used for its solution.’
That is why we are here, attended by the faith of the people of Guyana in this international Court of Justice and in the rule of law internationally”, Sir Shridath pointed out.
Once the Court agrees with Guyana and establishes that it has jurisdiction, it will proceed to hear the actual case.
Guyana is seeking to obtain a final and binding judgment from the Court that the 1899 Arbitral Award, which established the location of the land boundary between then-British Guiana and Venezuela, remains valid and binding, and that Guyana’s Essequibo region belongs to Guyana, and not Venezuela.
Under the United Nations Charter and the Court’s own rules, its final judgments both on jurisdiction and the merits will be legally binding on Guyana and Venezuela, whether or not Venezuela participates in the proceedings.
Members of the media and the public will be able to follow the oral proceedings on the internet through a live webstream.”
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