Following the announcement by Venezuela this morning that it will not participate in the International Court case to settle the border controversy with Guyana, the Government of Guyana has announced that it intends to invoke the statute of the Court that provides for the Court making a judgement when one party decides to opt out.
In a statement this evening, the Guyana Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained that Guyana observes that under Article 53 of the Statute of the Court, “whenever one of the parties does not appear before the Court, or fails to defend its case, the other Party may call upon the Court to decide in favour of its claim”.
“Guyana intends to proceed in accordance with the said Article”, the Ministry noted.
According to the press statement from Takuba Lodge, Guyana is fully committed to the rule of law in international relations, including the peaceful resolution of disputes in conformity with international law.
“It trusts that the International Court of Justice, the judicial organ of the United Nations, will resolve the controversy with Venezuela in accordance with the law in a manner that is fair and equitable. It hopes that, in due course, Venezuela will reconsider its position and decide to appear in Court and defend its case. The Court’s rules allow for that. At the same time, if Venezuela persists in its refusal to participate, the rules provide for the Court to proceed, after a full hearing of the case, to a final judgment that is legally binding on both the participating and nonparticipating parties.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it wishes to reiterate that Guyana fully respects the decision of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to choose the International Court of Justice as the means of settlement of the controversy and is confident that the Court is fully empowered to decide the case.
In announcing its decision to not participate in the Court hearing, the Venezuelan Government said the International Court lacks jurisdiction in the matter.
Venezuela wants the diplomatic channels to be reopened, but Guyana believes that the UN Good Offices process has been exhausted. The Secretary General had made it clear that he would have been referring the matter to the ICJ if the Good Offices process offered no results by the end of 2017. He has stuck to that promise.
The Venezuelan delegation had been invited to the Court to begin filing its proceedings in the matter. A similar invitation was also extended to Guyana, which already has its legal team in place.
Guyana has been pushing for a judicial settlement to bring an end to the border controversy. Venezuela has been claiming two-thirds of Guyana’s territory, although the matter was settled back in 1899.