UN Security Council supports respect for territorial integrity, international law- Guyana

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 April 2024, 17:57 by Writer

Guyana’s national flag, the Golden Arrowhead, at the United Nations Headquarters, New York.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Tuesday unanimously supported respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and international law, at a closed door meeting that Guyana requested to address Venezuela’s moves to possibly seize the Essequibo Region.

“I think Venezuela found it hard to find a friend,” a source told Demerara Waves Online News on condition of anonymity. “I think the meeting sent a very clear message to Venezuela and that was important,” the official added.

The UNSC would likely issue a statement on the outcome of the meeting. President Irfaan Ali requested the UNSC meeting after Venezuela adopted a law that seeks to annex the 160,000 square kilometre Essequibo Region, despite orders by the World Court and a bilateral declaration that there must be no escalation of tensions.

Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, was quoted by the Spanish news agency, Agencia EFE as saying that “a large majority” of the UNSC members demonstrated their support for Guyana’s territorial integrity.

No official statement has so far been issued by the Council, but the United Kingdom’s ‘X’ feed at the UN said the Security Council met to discuss Venezuela’s threats to Guyana’s territory, and made that Western Nation’s position clear on the issue. “Venezuela cannot act unilaterally to disrupt the peace of the region. The border was settled in 1899 through international arbitration and must be respected,” the UK said.

Other sources told Demerara Waves Online News that Guyana received “strong support from the Western democracies” on the rule of international law, use of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to settle the border dispute, maintaining peace in Latin America and the Caribbean, “strict adherence” to the ICJ’s orders that Venezuela must not take any action against Guyana’s administration and control of the Essequibo Region, and President Irfaan Ali and President Nicolás Maduro’s Declaration for Dialogue and Peace.

One source familiar with the meeting said China and Russia’s support were a “bit more nuanced but they weren’t ambivalent which is good” and another said for those two UNSC Permanent Members it was more about bilateral relations and solving it (border dispute) bilaterally”. However, Guyana continues to maintain that, based on a 1966 agreement, the ICJ is the proper mechanism to settle the dispute over the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award that settled the land boundary between the two South American neighbours.

Back in December 2023, the Russian foreign ministry had said that “In our view, this is a matter of #Venezuela#Guyana relations and should be settled in a neighbourly way.”

Guyana enjoys diplomatic relations with China and Russia.

The 10 other non-permanent UNSC members, the sources, said, also supported the “rule of international law”. “There was no dissent on support for Guyana and the respect for territorial integrity and the adherence to international law,” one of the sources told Demerara Waves Online News.

Agencia EFE reported that Venezuela’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Samuel Moncada Acosta, who was present at the session, ruled out any occupation plan, but Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett did not believe him because, according to her, “words say one thing and actions say another.”

Venezuela has been repeatedly accusing Guyana of allowing the United States’ establishment of secret military bases here to launch an attack on the eastern and northern part of that Spanish-speaking nation. In his effort to rally support for the July 28, 2024 elections, President Maduro has claimed that Guyana has been aligning itself with the US Southern Command, Central Intelligence Agency, ExxonMobil and the United Kingdom to take control of the Essequibo Region.

The “Security Council Report” website stated that in the letter that requested Tuesday’s meeting, Ali cited the “Organic Law for the Defense of Guayana Esequiba”, which Maduro signed on 3 April. He warned that this action “cements Venezuela’s intent to annex more than two-thirds of Guyana’s sovereign territory and make it part of Venezuela”. Maduro described the law as the implementation of the results of the 3 December 2023 referendum. He added that the law “establishes the creation of state number 24, the state of Guayana Esequiba within the political and territorial organization of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela”. The law also reiterated Venezuela’s rejection of the validity of the 1899 Paris Arbitral Award and the ICJ’s jurisdiction on the matter.

In his 5 April letter, Ali said that the law violates the ICJ’s 1 December 2023 provisional measures and expressed concern that given Caracas’ disregard of this order, “Venezuela’s next move would be to implement its plan for the seizure of our sovereign territory”. He added that such an act would be a breach of the fundamental principles of international law enshrined in the UN Charter and would contradict the letter and spirit of the Argyle Declaration. The letter also rejects recent claims made by Maduro that the US has installed CIA bases in Essequibo, calling it a “dangerous narrative”.