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UN Good Officer Process in Guyana-Venezuela controversy useless- Foreign Minister

This map depicts the Eastern Zone that includes Guyana’s waters off the Essequibo Coast that Venezuela claims as hers.

Foreign Minister Carl Greenidge says Guyana is no longer interested in the United Nations (UN) Good Officer Process because Venezuela has been using it as a cover to leave the border controversy unresolved, but he declined to say whether his country would approve the appointment of a new mediator.

“We have indicated very clearly to the Secretary General of the United Nations that the Good Officer’s Process to which we have adhered faithfully does not seem to offer any prospect of moving forward,” he told a news briefing.

Greenidge’s position came less than one week after Venezuela officially asked United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon to appoint a new Good Officer in keeping with the 1966 Geneva Agreement.

The appointment of a new UN Good Officer has to be done by consensus, but Greenidge flatly refused to say whether Guyana would approve one of the candidates. Instead, he said Guyana believes that Venezuela has been manipulating the mediation process. “The feeling is that as it has evolved, it has served as a cover- not deliberately on the part of the UN of course- but it has served for a cover under which Guyana’s sovereignty has been threatened…,” he said.

The settlement of the border controversy, Guyana insists, must be settled judicially by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). “I don’t know what else you can do in terms of mediation when you think in terms of what has been happening over the years and the only option that is left would be for a judicial resolution of this matter,” said the minister.

Guyana, he said, has decided to take up an offer by Ban to send an emissary on a fact-finding mission to this country and Venezuela, in the wake of the renewed border row.

While it is the UN Chief who has to determine whether the controversy should be sent to the ICJ, Greenidge said there was no need for consensus by Guyana and Venezuela. “The Secretary General may opt for judicial action whether or not he depends on both parties will depend on what exactly the question is he puts to the court,” he said.

The Foreign Minister observed that during the past 25 years the conciliation process has never helped to resolve the controversy over the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award that settled the land boundary between the two neighbouring South American countries.  Rather, he argued, Venezuela has used the opportunity to continue to violate Guyana’s territorial integrity by sending members of security forces to this country in clear violation of the Geneva Agreement.

Even if the land border controversy is settled by the ICJ, the two countries would have to find another mechanism to delimit the maritime boundary.

Relations between Guyana and Venezuela have sunken to a new low in recent weeks after that Spanish-speaking neighbour issued two Decrees that unilaterally takes in the Atlantic waters off the Essequibo Coast as its maritime space.

The 15-nation Caribbean Community (Caricom) has criticized Venezuela’s actions.