The International Court of Justice has announced that public hearings on the question of the Court’s jurisdiction to hear the Guyana vs Venezuela case will begin on the 30th June in the The Hague.
The Court said in view of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the hearings will take place in the Great Hall of Justice using videoconference technology and with the physical presence of some of the Members of the Court.
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.
Venezuela has claimed, in a letter to the Court, that the Secretary-General of the United Nations exceeded his authority under the Geneva Agreement, and that the Court, therefore, lacks jurisdiction to adjudicate Guyana’s lawsuit.
Venezuela has previously indicated that it will not participate in the proceedings.
The Court is expected to proceed to decide if it has jurisdiction over Guyana’s claims, irrespective of whether or not Venezuela participates in the proceedings.
If it decides that it has jurisdiction, the Court will proceed to rule on the merits of those claims, and decide whether the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award and the border between the two States should be confirmed.
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.