by Abigail Semple
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo on Monday openly lobbied Commonwealth members of the Judiciary on the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy.
“I have raised this matter with you, our distinguished visitors, because you represent a wide spread of Commonwealth jurisdictions and for our cause, we seek your solidarity and support. It is a matter that touches the international rule of law,” he told the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association Conference, held at the Marriott Hotel, Guyana.
Labeling it “a matter of national importance”, the the acting President reiterated that the boundary between Guyana and Venezuela has been identified and settled as a result of the decision of the international tribunal that was established in 1899.
“After 50 years of independence,” he said, “Guyana deserves a better life. At last, Guyana is on the threshold of a prosperous and excitable future. We can do without this threat confronting us as a border controversy. We are pursuing settlement by law.”
The Minister then revealed that President Granger could not make it to the Conference as he is presently in attendance of a United Nations meeting, where he plans to propose a juridical settlement on the issue. Guyana hopes that United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon will decide to send the border controversy to the International Court of Justice before he leaves office later this year.
“We expect that this could be part of the legacy of Secretary General Ban Ki Moon…he could in fact advance the process for a definitive resolution of this controversy by accepting the proposal that we are making…this is a matter of the international rule of law therefore it is the courts that should decide the matter,” Nagamootoo later told reporters.
Decades-old tensions boiled over from mid-2015 after ExxonMobil announced the discovery of a huge oil reserve offshore Guyana. Venezuela’s response included two decrees by its President, Nicolas Maduro, unilaterally annexing Guyana’s Atlantic waters as its territory. Caricom has since condemned that move.
The ceremony, which will continue until Friday, is attended by judicial delegates from the various Commonwealth countries.
Among the topics to be raised during the Conference are environmental law and sustainable development, domestic violence, alternative dispute resolutions, and the rights of indigenous peoples.
These, according to Prime Minister Nagamootoo, are extremely relevant matters of key focus in his government’s framework, and he lauded the Commonwealth Judges on their choice of discussion topics.