The Government of Guyana through Foreign Secretary, Robert Persaud, has written to social media sites Facebook and Twitter, requesting that all illegal maps by Venezuela laying claim to Guyana’s territory, be removed from their social media platforms.
The Foreign Secretary penned the letters in light of what is being seen as a renewed disinformation campaign being waged against Guyana by the neighbouring country.
In his letters, Mr Persaud explained that Facebook and Twitter are being used to propagate a false narrative regarding the controversy between Guyana and Venezuela over the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award.
The 1899 Arbitral Award legally established the location of the land boundary between then British Guiana (now Guyana) and Venezuela. However, Venezuela, after more than 60 years of the issuance of the award, contends that it was null and void. but Guyana has long maintained that the award was a full, perfect and final settlement and therefore remains valid to this day. The matter is currently before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
The Foreign Secretary told the Chief Executive Officers of Facebook and Twitter that the ongoing disinformation campaign could have far reaching implications.
“I wish to point out that Facebook (and Twitter) posts and the subsequent comments surrounding the particular posts, have the potential to permanently damage relations between States, incite violence against the territory and people of Guyana, and derail the current adjudication of the matter before the International Court of Justice (ICJ),” he warned.
Persaud told the social media giants that the land boundary between Guyana and Venezuela was settled by a legal process of International Arbitration on October 3, 1899, pursuant to an 1897 Treaty of Washington by which both parties agreed to respect the results of the arbitration as a full, perfect and final settlement of the boundary.
It was noted that the boundary as determined by the Award was demarcated on the ground between 1900 and 1904 by Commissioners appointed by Britain and Venezuela.
On January 7, 1905, the official boundary map delineating the boundary as awarded and demarcated, was drawn up and signed by the Commissioners of both Britain and Venezuela and promulgated in Georgetown, at the Combined Court.
That boundary and the corresponding territory of Guyana are internationally recognised, including by the United Nations, Mr. Persaud pointed out in the letter.
“In this regard, I am requesting that these types of Facebook posts (and Twitter) which violate the basic tenet of international relations between States, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and incite a threat of use of force against Guyana, be removed forthwith and more stringent measure be taken against their publications,’’ the Foreign Secretary’s letter urged.
In December 2020, the ICJ ruled that it had jurisdiction to entertain an application filed by Guyana in March 2018 to affirm the validity of the Arbitral Award of 3 October 1899. On March 8, 2022, Guyana submitted its Memorial in support of its argument. Venezuela has until March 8, 2023 to submit its Counter-Memorial.