Venezuela officially flips-flops on World Court’s role in resolving border controversy

Last Updated on Saturday, 16 September 2017, 8:44 by Denis Chabrol

United Nations Secretary General’s High Representative and President Nicolas Maduro in talks.

Venezuela for the first time officially acknowledged that the  border controversy with Guyana would be taken to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), but hours later reverted to its long-held position that the issue should be settled by mediation.

Following a meeting between President Nicolas Maduro and the United Nations Secretary General’s High Representative, Dag Nylander, the Venezuelan government issued a public statement officially stating that the border controversy would be referred to the ICJ, also known as the World Court.

“The UN Good Offices process will continue until the end of the year, when the organization will determine if significant progress has been made in the dispute, otherwise the case will be referred to the International Court of Justice,” the Venezuelan government said. That position mirrors Guyana’s repeated call. Foreign Minister Carl Greenidge earlier this week reiterated that Guyana was in no mood to consider an extension of time for the Nylander-led mediation process.

Hours later, the Venezuelan government amended the statement, instead saying, “mediation will be supported by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in order to find a practical and satisfactory solution, as set out in the Geneva Agreement.” The Geneva Agreement, which was signed by representatives of Britain, Guyana and Venezuela on February 17, 1966, provides for the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with Article 33 of the UN Charter.

Following the meeting between Nylander and Maduro, Venezuela said it reaffirmed its position that the border controversy should be settled peacefully and with respect for the principles of international public law.

Guyana maintains that the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award is a full, final and perfect settlement of the land borders with Venezuela. However, Caracas insists that that accord is null and void.

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.