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BORDER CONTROVERSY: Guyana, Venezuela welcome UN Secretary General’s decision

President David Granger and United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon.

Guyana and Venezuela Friday night welcomed the decision by outgoing United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon to give the two neighbouring South American countries one more year to resolve their border controversy through mediation.

However, Guyana and Venezuela continue to differ over whether the matter should be taken to the  International Court of Justice (ICJ) also known as the World Court. Guyana stated that there can be no higher tribunal for this purpose than the ICJ  to determine this matter on a definite basis.

“It has long been the accepted position of all Governments in Guyana that the best means of settlement of our controversy with Venezuela should be a reference of it to the International Court of Justice. We consider that controversy to be essentially a legal question and one eminently susceptible to a legal process of settlement,” said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement.

Tired that the more than 20-year old mediation process has not led to a resolution, Guyana has lobbied the UN for the controversy to be taken to the ICJ. However, analysts say that Venezuela’s government and opposition are determined to keep the controversy alive by insisting on mediation. Venezuela is claiming the mineral and forest-rich Essequibo Region which makes up about two-thirds of Guyana.

Venezuela’s media report  that that country’s Foreign Minister, Delcy Rodriguez plans to write the new UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres  rejecting appeals to the ICJ.

Caracas continues to maintain that the UN mediation ‘Good Officer’ is the best route to settle the controversy over whether the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award of  the land border with Guyana is a full, perfect and final settlement.

“In other consecutive messages the Chancellor affirmed that Venezuela ratifies its commitment to the negotiated solution of this controversy and demands to Guyana the fulfillment of good faith in the mechanism of the Good Officer,” one of the reports said.

Rodriguez explained that the Geneva Accord, which has settled this international controversy since 1966, promotes a practical, friendly and satisfactory solution for both parties through direct negotiation between the two nations.

While their positions for and against the ICJ differ sharply, Guyana and Venezuela welcomed the outgoing UN Chief’s position that mediation should once again be tried for one year-2017.

“It is the victory of the Bolivarian Diplomacy of Peace, led by President Nicolás Maduro, who maintained the position of Venezuela on Good Offices,” Foreign Minister Rodríguez wrote on her Twitter account @DrodriguezVen.

Guyana described the decision by Ban as a “new point of promise” in Guyana-Venezuela relations.  “The Government of Guyana accepts the decision of the Secretary General. We stand committed to using our best endeavours to fulfill its highest expectations. The Government will be writing formally to him as well as to the President of Venezuela to indicate our acceptance of this decision.”

If, at the end of that period, the Secretary-General concludes that significant progress has not been made towards arriving at a full agreement for the solution of the controversy, he will choose the International Court of Justice as the next means of settlement, unless the Governments of Guyana and Venezuela jointly request that he refrain from doing so.

Guyana remarked that  in taking this decision, the Secretary General has remained loyal to the sacred mission of the United Nations to uphold the law and maintain the peace between nations – small and large.

Guyana pledged to do everything in its power to ensure that his expectations, and those of his successor to whom the mandate of implementation now falls – as well as our expectations are fulfilled. “The Government calls upon all Guyanese to support the process that now lies ahead in the confidence that it will lead to a just and binding resolution of the discords that have plagued our development for so long. It is a fitting advance in this fiftieth year of our independence. May God continue to bless our nation in this noble cause.”