The International Court of Justice today handed down provisional measures that essentially blocks Venezuela from taking any action that could change the current situation in the Essequibo region.
In its unanimous decision handed down in The Hague, the Court ordered that Venezuela refrains from taking any action which would modify the situation that currently prevails in the Essequibo, whereby Guyana administers and exercises control over that area. The International Court also ordered both Guyana and Venezuela to refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute before
the Court or make it more difficult to resolve.
President of the ICJ, Justice Joan E. Donoghue handed down the orders.
“Unanimously, pending a final decision in the case, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela shall refrain from taking any action which would modify the situation that currently prevails in the territory in dispute, whereby the Co-operative Republic of Guyana administers and exercises control over that area [Essequibo],” Justice Donoghue ruled.
It therefore means Venezuela cannot annex the Essequibo Region or create a new Venezuelan State that incorporates any section of Guyana’s territory.
“Unanimously, both parties shall refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the court or make it more difficult to resolve,” the ICJ President furthered ordered.
In delivering the orders, Justice Donoghue made it clear that the provisional measures granted by the ICJ are binding.
“The Court recalls that its orders indicating provisional measures under Article 41 of the Statute has binding effect and thus create international legal obligations for any party to whom the provisional measures are addressed,” Justice Donoghue.
Before handing down the orders, Justice Donoghue said the World Court, in arriving at its decision, found that there were sufficient grounds to grant the provisional measures sought by Guyana, having established in 2020 that it has jurisdiction to preside over the territorial case.
The President of the ICJ reasoned that while at this stage of the proceedings the Court is not called upon to determine definitively whether the rights which Guyana seeks to protect exist, it considers that Guyana has sovereign rights over the Essequibo Region and that in the absence of such provisional measures, irreparable prejudice could be caused to that right, which is the subject of judicial proceedings also before the Court.
It was noted that the 5th question included in the planned December 3 Referendum in Venezuela refers explicitly to the creation of a “Guayana Esequiba” State and the acceleration of plans to grant Venezuelan citizenship and Identity Cards to persons in the Essequibo Region.
The Court also took into consideration official statements emanating out of Venezuela including those by its President Nicolas Maduro and military officials.
“The court considers that in light of the strong tension that currently characterizes the relations between the parties, the aforementioned circumstances present a serious risk of Venezuela acquiring and exercising control and administration of the territory in dispute in the present case. It therefore concludes that there is a risk of irreparable prejudice to the right claim by Guyana in the present proceedings that the court has found plausible. The court further considers that Venezuela’s expressed readiness to take action with regard to the territory in dispute in these proceedings at any moment, following the referendum scheduled for December 3, 2023 demonstrates that there is urgency in the sense that there’s a real and imminent risk of irreparable prejudice to Guyana’s plausible right before the court gives its final decision,” the President submitted.
It was against that background that the court granted the provisional measures
Guyana intends to continue raising awareness on the controversy across the country and globally. Already, the Government has launched a public relations drive and has also been courting the international community on the issue.