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Venezuela, Guyana to take “steps” to address border controversy- UN Good Officer

Essequibo is shaded on Venezuela’s official maps as the Zone of Reclamation

The United Nations Secretary General’s Good Officer in the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy, Professor Norman Girvan has proposed a number of “steps” to deal with the issue.

In a statement issued through the United Nations Department of Political Affairs, Girvan said several meetings could be held in the near future to discuss Venezuela’s claim to the mineral and forest rich Essequibo Region.

He said Guyana’s Foreign Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett and her Venezuelan counterpart, Elias Jaua Milano have in separate meetings with him agreed to the meetings and other steps.

“In recalling the progress made under the Good Offices process in the recent past, the Ministers welcome the Personal Representative’s initiative to suggest a series of further steps to address the border controversy. These steps could include a schedule of meetings to move the process forward over the coming months,” said Girvan.

The UN Goof Officer said he looked forward to providing the Ministers with suggestions in the coming weeks, and discussing them with each of the Foreign Ministers in the near future.

The UN Good Officer’s mandate only relates to the land border controversy and not the maritime boundary that was almost two weeks ago the subject of renewed tension after a navy frigate arrested a seismic research ship that was hired by an American oil exploration company to collect data from an offshore concession awarded by Guyana. The ship and its 36-member crew were subsequently released after the two countries agreed to begin preparatory work for maritime boundary delimitation negotiations.

The Good Officer Process was initiated in 1989 following the expiration of the Protocol of Port of Spain in 1982. That Protocol had provided an initial period of 12 years during which Venezuela had undertook not to assert any claim to sovereignty over the Essequibo Region and for Guyana to assert no claim to Venezuelan territory.

Guyana has consistently maintained that the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award represented a full and final settlement of the land boundary with Venezuela.

The border issue was reopened in 1949 when an American jurist presented to Venezuela a memorandum written in 1944 by the Official Secretary of the U.S./Venezuela delegation in the Tribunal of Arbitration, Severo Mallet-Prevost that surmised a political deal between Russia and Britain based on the private behaviour of the judges.