Guyana to submit case to ICJ on border dispute

GEORGETOWN – Guyana says it will be submitting its written pleadings to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the ongoing border dispute with Venezuela.

Guyana will be submitting its Memorial on March 8 in accordance with the schedule set by the ICJ to hear the case on the merits of the country’s application concerning the validity of the Arbitral Award of 1899 and the related question of the definitive settlement of the land boundary between the two countries.

Guyana has on several occasions cautioned Caracas against using the border claim to the mineral, forest and oil-rich Essequibo region as a negotiating centrepiece while violating international law.

Guyana has in the past expressed confidence that the ICJ will rule in the country’s favour that the 1899 Arbitral Award, which settled the boundary between then British Guiana and Venezuela, remains valid.

Following their Inter-sessional Summit in Belize on Wednesday, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders as they have done in the past, “reiterated their full support for the ongoing judicial process that is intended to bring a peaceful and definitive end to the long-standing controversy between the two countries and urged Venezuela to participate in the process.

“Heads of Government reaffirmed their firm and unwavering support for the maintenance and preservation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Guyana,” the regional leaders added.

The government statement said that an estimated GUY$660 million (One Guyana dollar=US$0.004 cents) has been budgeted for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to pay legal fees in the border case.

In March 2018, Guyana moved to the ICJ to challenge the non-participation of Venezuela, over its disagreement on the legal validity and binding effect of the October 3, 1899 Award. Venezuela had maintained that the ICJ was without jurisdiction to hear the case and had not participated in the matter.

However, in a December 18, 2020, 12-4 majority ruling, the ICJ upheld that it has jurisdiction to entertain Guyana’s contention concerning the validity of the 1899 Award about the frontier between British Guiana and Venezuela, and the related question of the definitive settlement of the land boundary. (CMC)

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