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Venezuela is obligated to accept International Court of Justice ruling on Esequibo border controversy – Guyana's Foreign Affairs Minister




By Kaieter News

Petroleumworld 02 05 2018

Cabinet is expected to review a report this week on the way forward ahead of approaches to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the long-standing border controversy with neighbouring Venezuela.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge, said yesterday, that Venezuela is obligated to accept the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Venezuela has not signed on to the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ although as a member, it has to accept the decisions as binding.

A week ago, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, referred the century-old border controversy to the ICJ after both sides couldn't reach a settlement through the U.N Good Officer Process.

“It is not for a country to decide unilaterally what are its obligations and the world's obligations. You are in a community; you are not an island as a country. You can say whatever you like, but you cannot pronounce on the law which is an international law.”

“The law we are making reference to is internationally fashioned. It is an international treaty and you are obligated under UN framework itself to honour treaty obligations and to honour the law. Once there is a pronouncement to the standing of the treaty and this one in particular, we are fine. That is very comforting,” Greenidge stated.

While Guyana has welcomed the ICJ pathway, Venezuela has refused to accept the decision, requesting that talks continue between the two sides.
Greenidge stated that Guyana would welcome an advisory decision from the ICJ if Guterres decides to go this route.

He stated that the advisory opinion would confirm that the 1899 tribunal decision on the boundary demarcation is still in existence. Decades after the tribunal decision, Venezuela raised objections and claimed Esequibo as theirs.

“We are not setting out in the court to get the court to go now and mark boundaries. That is not the issue. The issue is simply an allegation made by Venezuela in 1962 that a treaty that they had honoured for 61 years is null and void,” Greenidge stated.

The Foreign Affairs Minister stated that Guyana does not want to define the role of the ICJ.

“I am not going to get into a big argument about whether it has powers or doesn't have power. Guyana's concern as conveyed to the Secretary General is that there is a shadow cast over Guyana's development. That has been the case for the last 51 years,” Greenidge pointed out.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its advisory team along with lawyers met all day Sunday to map out the board options going forward.
According to Greenidge, Cabinet has to provide policy guidelines based on a report from Sunday's meeting and on the issues that need immediate attention.

“We have decisions to make on the legal team, decisions to make on the issue of timing and how exactly we will treat with the court. The Good Officer's process, as Guyanese know it has finished,” Greenidge noted.

Venezuela had originally accepted the 1899 agreement until the 1949 publication of a memorandum written by a US lawyer who acted for Caracas. The lawyer claimed the tribunal result had favoured Britain's claims, as a result of alleged corruption and collusion between London and the Russian chair of the tribunal.

Further, Venezuela became aggressive shortly after Guyana announced a massive oil find offshore by ExxonMobil, a company which has a long running legal dispute with the Spanish-speaking nation.

Story from Kaieter News 02 05 2018

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