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Int'l Court summons Guyana, Venezuela for key meeting on pleadings in boundary issue



By Kaieter News

Petroleumworld 06 07 2018

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reported that resulting from the filing of its application with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on March 29, 2018, it has gotten word back.

“The President of the International Court of Justice has invited the representatives of Guyana and Venezuela to attend a meeting with him on June 18, 2018 in The Hague for the purpose of fixing the schedule for the filing of the written pleadings in the case. This is part of the Court's normal procedure following the filing of a case,” the ministry explained.

Guyana has requested for the United Nations court to render a decision to confirm the legal validity and binding effect of the 1899 Arbitral Award regarding the boundary between Guyana and Venezuela.

“The meeting with the President of the Court will be limited to the matter of the schedule.

Guyana will be represented by its Legal Counsel,” the ministry said.

The meeting on June 18 would be a crucial step in resolving the matter, from a Guyana perspective.

In late March following the filing, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had stated that the application followed the decision of UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, in choosing the ICJ as the next means of resolving the controversy that arose as a result of the Venezuelan contention that the Arbitral Award of 1899 about the frontier between British Guiana and Venezuela was null and void.

In its application to the Court, Guyana “highlighted that Venezuela had, for more than 60 years, consistently recognized and respected the validity and binding force of the 1899 Award and with the 1905 map agreed by both sides in furtherance of the award.”

However, Venezuela only changed its position formally in 1962, as the United Kingdom was making final preparations for the independence of British Guiana, and threatened not to recognize the new state, or its boundaries, unless the United Kingdom agreed to set aside the 1899 award and cede to Venezuela all of the territory west of the Essequibo River, amounting to some two-thirds of Guyana's territory.

The Ministry disclosed that Guyana's application notes that Venezuela has never produced any evidence to justify its belated repudiation of the 1899 award, rather, it has used it as an excuse to occupy territory awarded to Guyana in 1899; to inhibit Guyana's economic development; and to violate Guyana's sovereignty and sovereign rights.

“The UN Secretary-General's authority to choose the ICJ as the means for resolving the controversy is rooted in the Geneva Agreement of 1966, negotiated just before Guyana attained independence.”

The Ministry had also pointed out that on January 30, 2018, Secretary General Guterres concluded that the Good Offices Process, in which the parties had engaged for almost 30 years, had failed to achieve a solution to the controversy and chose the ICJ as the next means of settlement.

The application was handed over to Philippe Couvreur, Registrar of the ICJ, by Carl Greenidge, Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, who will serve as Guyana's agent in the proceedings before the Court.

According to Minister Greenidge, in filing its application, Guyana has respected the Secretary General's decision and placed its faith in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to resolve the controversy in accordance with its statute and jurisprudence, based on the fundamental principles of international law, including the sanctity of treaties, the maintenance of settled boundaries and respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States.

Following the 2015 discovery of oil and change of Government, Venezuela had upped its claims on Guyana, with its aggression even seeing action taken to end a rice-for-oil deal to pressure this country.

Guyana later that year went to the United Nations and made a complaint to the General Assembly.

Guyana has also earmarked money from the oil agreement with ExxonMobil, some US$18M, to fight the case at ICJ.

The ICJ has its seat in The Hague, The Netherlands, and is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.

The legal team of Guyana is being led by Sir Shridath Ramphal, an experienced lawyer and former Attorney General of Guyana who successfully also played a lead role in the 2007 successful award in the arbitration regarding the delimitation of the maritime boundary between Guyana and Suriname


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06 07 2018

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