CARICOM supports judicial process in Guyana/Venezuela border controversy

Foreign Affairs Minister Karen Cummings updates community

DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) last Thursday expressed support for the judicial process being followed in the border controversy between Guyana and Venezuela.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Honourable Dr. Karen Cummings updated the Heads of Government on the ongoing controversy, at the 40th regular meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community in Gros Islet, Saint Lucia. The confab was held between July 3-9.

The judicial process is intended to bring a peaceful and definitive end to the long-standing controversy between the two countries.

According to the Honourable Foreign Minister, Guyana remains optimistic about the issue, noting that Guatemala and Belize are experiencing similar difficulties. Belize, she said, recently had a referendum and they too have carried their case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

“At the CARICOM level, we hope there is something that will come out and both sides will be satisfied as we look forward to a peaceful settlement of borders and territorial issues,” said Minister Cummings.

The Heads of Government noted Guyana’s request for the ICJ to proceed with the oral hearings on Jurisdiction considering Venezuela’s failure to submit its Counter-Memorial on April 18, 2019, in accordance with the time limit fixed by the court.

The Heads of Government reiterated their firm and unswerving support for the maintenance and preservation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Guyana.

To bring an end to the age-old border controversy, on January 30, 2018, the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres, in keeping with the 1966 Geneva Agreement, announced that the ICJ would be the means to be used for the solution of the controversy. On March 29, 2018, then Foreign Affairs Minister, Honourable Carl Greenidge filed Guyana’s application with the ICJ.

Venezuela’s most recent action — the refusal to file a Counter-Memorial (CM) on the court’s jurisdiction by April 18, in defiance of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) — was the latest in a series of counterproductive moves by the western neighbour.

The ICJ had requested the CM after Guyana submitted arguments in November of last year, contending that the ICJ has jurisdiction to hear and rule on the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award that fixed the boundary between Guyana and Venezuela. The ICJ requested the CM so that the court could hear both sides, but Venezuela refused to tell its side.

The recent refusal by Venezuela to submit the CM to the ICJ had prompted Guyana to request that the ICJ go ahead with the case. The court should now rule on whether it has jurisdiction, and, if it does, it should hear and determine the substantive issue of Venezuela’s claim to our land.

In addition to the border controversy, CARICOM heads also addressed the ongoing situation in Venezuela but maintained its stance of non-interference and non-intervention.

The situation in Venezuela has led to persons fleeing the country and seeking refuge, particularly in the Caribbean.

“We hope that the situation will come to stabilisation so that persons can go to their homeland and enjoy the good life,” said Minister Cummings.

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