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Guyana mulling options to resolve border controversy with Venezuela

Last Updated on Monday, 22 December 2014, 19:49 by GxMedia

Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett

Guyana is considering a number of options to resolve the border controversy with Venezuela, with the aim of making a firm decision during next year, Foreign Affairs Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett announced on Monday.

Among the options being considered through the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon are judicial action and arbitration.

She said the UN Good Officer Process has yielded little during the past 20 years in resolving Venezuela’s claim to the mineral and forest –rich Essequibo Region. “It’s been more than twenty years since the Good Officer’s process…If in two decades, you haven’t had the kind of progress you would like to see and you have had additions that complicate that, I think you need to look at the options,” she said.

Her reference to “additions” appear to include the arrest in October, 2013 of a seismic research vessel and its 36-member crew in an offshore concession that has been granted to an American company

A decision on the future course of action on the land boundary controversy is to be taken during 2015. If Guyana goes the route of judicial action, that would almost certainly be done by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). 

Back in 1982, then Foreign Minister, Rashleigh Jackson had suggested that the claim to the more than 50,000 square mile area be taken to the UN General Assembly instead of the ICJ or the UN Security Council.

Rodrigues-Birkett said that Venezuela has been informed that Guyana has been exploring the other options in the Geneva Agreement that was signed by representatives of Britain, Guyana and Venezuela on February 17, 1966. That accord provides for the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with Article 33 of the UN Charter.

Guyana maintains that the 1899 Tribunal Award is the full and final decision in settling the border with that Spanish-speaking western neighbour.

The Foreign Minister hinted that consultations would be held with the opposition- “relevant stakeholders” – because that is a “national issue.”

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.




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