ICJ sets date to hear Guyana’s request to block questions in Venezuela’s referendum on border controversy

ICJ sets date to hear Guyana’s request to block questions in Venezuela’s referendum on border controversy

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has announced that it will hold public hearings in the Guyana v. Venezuela Case on the 14th November, 2023 to deal specifically with Guyana’s request to block a number of questions in Venezuela’s upcoming referendum on the border controversy.

“The hearings will be devoted to the request for the indication of provisional measures submitted by Guyana on 30 October 2023,” the ICJ said in a statement on Friday.

In a statement today, the ICJ explained that Guyana, in its request, said that the Government of Venezuela, through its National Electoral Council has published a list of five questions that it intends to put before the people of Venezuela in a “Consultative Referendum” on December 3, 2023.

“According to the applicant, the purpose of this referendum is to “obtain responses that would support Venezuela’s decision to abandon [the current proceedings before the Court], and to resort instead to unilateral measures to ‘resolve’ the controversy with Guyana by formally annexing and integrating into Venezuela all of the territory at issue in these proceedings, which comprises more than two-thirds of Guyana,” the ICJ explained.

The Court said the hearings will take place at the Peace Palace in The Hague.

Guyana had asked the ICJ to hear its application as a matter of urgency, ahead of the planned December 3 referendum.

Guyana and a number of international organisations have rejected the planned Venezuelan referendum, which the Government of Guyana believes could be used to annex Guyana’s Essequibo region.

Guyana decided to seek the provisional measures to block the questions in the referendum since the matter on the border controversy remains before the ICJ.

In the initial stage of the substantive case before the ICJ, Venezuela questioned the Court’s jurisdiction to hear and determine the border matter. The Court dismissed Venezuela’s objection and has moved ahead with the case.

The Government of Guyana has said that it has no doubt of the validity of that Arbitral Award and the land boundary, which Venezuela accepted and recognized as the international boundary for more than 60 years.

“Guyana insists, as does CARICOM, the Secretary-Generals of the United Nations and Organization of American States, and the entire international community, that the controversy over the validity of the Arbitral Award and the land boundary must be resolved by the International Court of Justice, which will assure a just, peaceful, binding and permanent solution to this matter, in accordance with international law. In fact, the Court itself has determined, in two separate Orders, that it has the exclusive jurisdiction to resolve this matter, and that it will do so. Twice Venezuela has formally objected to the Court’s jurisdiction, and both times the Court overwhelmingly rejected Venezuela’s objections”, the Government said in one of its most recent statements.

CARICOM, the OAS, and the Commonwealth have all come out in support of Guyana, and have effectively rejected the referendum, and Venezuela’s claims to Guyana’s territory.

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