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Venezuela snubs Guyana’s international campaign to use International Court of Justice to settle border controversy

Last Updated on Friday, 24 September 2021, 15:35 by Denis Chabrol

Hours after Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali indicated that his country was waging an international diplomatic offensive to convince Venezuela to recognise the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in settling the border controversy over the Essequibo Region, the Venezuelan government again bluntly stated that it was only interested in a bilateral settlement.

“Venezuela urges Guyana to abandon the unilateral path of the International Court of Justice, which is absolutely contrary to the spirit and nature of the 1966 Geneva Agreement, the only valid legal instrument to settle this controversy,” the Venezuelan government said in a statement.

“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela will always assert its legitimate rights over the territory of Guayana Esequiba, through direct negotiations as established in the Geneva Agreement and in the spirit of peace that guides our diplomacy,” the Venezuelan government added

President Nicolas Maduro did not mention anything about the border controversy in his address to the United Nations General Assembly earlier this week. He, however, praised Mexico and Russia’s role in cementing an agreement between his government and the opposition that they would unite against the role of the International Court of Justice  (ICJ).

Earlier Friday, Dr. Ali said Guyana has embarked on a diplomatic campaign to get Venezuela to recognise the ICJ as the legitimate process for reaffirming this country’s position that the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal that settled the land border as full, final and perfect.

“What we are doing internationally is encouraging Venezuela to participate fully in the process and to say to the world that we are committed to the international rule of law and to the jurisdiction and to the ruling of the ICJ,” he said, adding that was the position he reiterated to the United Nations General Assembly and “in meeting with global leaders.”  The United Nations Secretary General has handed the controversy to the ICJ in keeping with the Geneva Agreement and that juridical body has since found that it has jurisdiction to hear Guyana’s case and that the decisions would be binding on both parties.

Venezuela, according to the ICJ, can participate in the process at any time.

In a statement issued on Friday, the Venezuelan government said it “once again deplores the misrepresentations and bad faith demonstrated” in Ali’s address to the General Assembly.

The Venezuelan government again accused the American supermajor oil company, ExxonMobil, that has discovered more than nine billion barrels of oil equivalent offshore Guyana, and other transnational companies of pushing Guyana to end the United Nations Secretary General-sponsored “friendly negotiations that we had been following in compliance with the Geneva Agreement since 1966 to settle bilaterally” the controversy over the the Essequibo Region.

The Maduro administration said ExxonMobil and other companies have also “financed legal costs of the illegitimate action before the International Court of Justice against Venezuela.” The Guyana government has acknowledged that much of the US$18 million signing bonus with ExxonMobil was being used to pay legal fees for fighting the case at the ICJ.

“Let us not forget that this dispute represents the sad colonial heritage of the United Kingdom to this young nation from the process of decolonization of the sixties and, like it or not, it must be resolved in a peaceful, friendly and mutually acceptable way for both parties, as establishes the Geneva Agreement in its Preamble, the purpose of which is to achieve a practical and satisfactory settlement of the territorial dispute,” the Venezuelan government said.

President Ali’s condemnation of the use of the border controversy by Venezuela’s government and opposition as a rallying point amounted to a violation of international law,  the Venezuelan government said the Guyanese government  took  a “victimizing imposture” by attacking that September 5, 2021 accord in line with a memorandum signed on August 13, 2021.

That agreement unites the government and the opposition to reach a peaceful, definitive and mutual resolution. accepted on the sovereignty of Guayana Esequiba in the framework of the 1966 Geneva Agreement.

The Venezuelan government emphasised  in various communiqués, notes and communications delivered to the Guyana government and to the UN Secretary General,  that it has “insisted on continuing the negotiations as broadly as possible.”