UN Boss Refers Guyana-Venezuela Border Dispute to International Court of Justice

UN Secretary General António Guterres says significant progress has not been made toward arriving at a full agreement for the solution of the border controversy.


GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Wednesday January 31, 2018 – Guyana is heading to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for a final resolution on its longstanding border dispute with neighbouring Venezuela.

Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, announced yesterday that the UN boss had decided to refer the controversy to the ICJ for settlement, after carefully analyzing last year’s developments in the good offices process and concluding that “significant progress has not been made toward arriving at a full agreement for the solution of the controversy”.

His decision was taken after his High-Level Personal Representative, Dagg Halvor Nylander failed to resolve the controversy over the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award that settled the boundary between Venezuela and then British Guiana.

Venezuela contends that the Arbitral Award was null and void. The dispute flared up again recently after the Nicolás Maduro government claimed sovereignty over Guyana’s territorial waters in the Essequibo region of the Atlantic Ocean, including a large part of the area where US oil giant ExxonMobil has discovered oil.

Guyana’s President David Granger, responding to the UN Secretary-General’s decision – which his government has pushed for, said in a national address last night: “Guyana remains confident in the correctness of its case. Guyana looks forward to the reaffirmation of the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award before the International Court of Justice.”

He reminded that Guyana’s position had always been that the basis of the controversy is a legal question, which should be resolved peacefully and conclusively through a legal process.

“Guyana will take all the necessary steps to ensure that its national patrimony will be protected for all time. Guyana remains committed to the peaceful settlement of disputes, respect for international agreements and treaties and to maintaining friendly relations with its neighbours,” Granger said.

“Guyana will pursue the path ahead in furtherance of the preservation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity with quiet confidence and with the assurance in ever improving relations with its neighbours, Brazil, Suriname and Venezuela.”

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