Guyana appears before the International Court of Justice this morning (8 AM local time) to make its case on the issue of the Court’s jurisdiction to hear the Guyana vs Venezuela border matter.
Guyana’s Agent to the Court, Foreign Secretary Carl Greenidge is upbeat about Guyana’s case and in a statement last evening he said Guyana has long valued the opportunity of a judicial settlement of “Venezuela’s outrageous claim to nearly three-quarters of Guyana”.
Mr. Greenidge explained that today’s hearing is for the sole purpose of addressing the question of the Court’s jurisdiction, that is, whether the Court has the authority to resolve the dispute between Guyana and Venezuela over the validity of the boundary between the two States which he reminded has been permanently fixed since 1899.
The issue was referred to the International Court of Justice by the United Nations Secretary General.
Guyana’s position is that the Court has jurisdiction to rule on the validity and permanence of that boundary while Venezuela claims the Court does not have jurisdiction.
Venezuela has opted to stay away from the Court proceedings, but the Court will still move ahead with the case and listen to Guyana’s arguments on the issue of jurisdiction.
Mr. Greenidge said he believes the ICJ will rule in Guyana’s favour and thereby clear the way for the case to move to its next step, which will be to decide on the 1899 award that established the boundary.
“Guyana anticipates that the Court will issue its decision on the jurisdictional question before the end of the year. Should it rule in Guyana’s favour, as we expect, it will then proceed to the next phase of the case, and ultimately decide the question that Guyana has put before it: whether the 1899 boundary that separates the two States, is a lawful and permanent boundary, such that the Essequibo region is confirmed as an integral part of Guyana’s territory for all time. Guyana will continue to do everything in its power to achieve that result, and is confident that the final outcome will be what all Guyanese wish for”, Mr. Greenidge said.
Guyana is seeking to obtain a final and binding judgment from the Court that the 1899 Arbitral Award, which established the location of the land boundary between then-British Guiana and Venezuela, remains valid and binding, and that Guyana’s Essequibo region belongs to Guyana, and not Venezuela.
Under the United Nations Charter and the Court’s own rules, its final judgments both on jurisdiction and the merits will be legally binding on Guyana and Venezuela, whether or not Venezuela participates in the proceedings.