Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
…country, optimistic that court has jurisdiction to hear the case
By Svetlana Marshall
Confident that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has jurisdiction to hear the 1899 Arbitral Award Case brought by Guyana against Venezuela, Guyana’s Special Advisor on Borders at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge said it is important for the country to demonstrate a united front throughout the life of the case, warning that division can pose a threat to the country’s sovereignty.
On Friday, December 18, 2020 President of the ICJ, Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf will rule on whether the Court has jurisdiction to hear the substantive matter, which treats with the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award.
On June 30, 2020, Guyana argued that the 1966 Geneva Agreement, in unambiguous terms, empowered the UN Secretary-General to determine an appropriate dispute resolution mechanism to enable a peaceful settlement.
The UN Secretary-General António Guterres, in 2018, referred the border controversy, which stemmed from Venezuela’s contention that the 1899 Arbitral Award was null and void, to the ICJ, but the Spanish speaking country has repeatedly indicated that the World Court has no jurisdiction to deliberate on the matter.
During a public discourse on the Guyana-Venezuela Border Controversy held on Tuesday by the International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly Guyana (IDPADA-G), Greenidge said once the ICJ rules in Guyana’s favor, the country will proceed with addressing the substantive matter with the assistance of a battery of international lawyers. However, he said it is important to indicate to the Court that Guyana is united on the issue.
“One of the things that our neighbours, and the hostile neighbour capitalize on is the perceived division between the political parties,” Greenidge told a group of young panelists that joined the discourse via Zoom.
The Special Advisor on Borders said in attempting to capitalize on the perceived division, Venezuela would seek to become an ally with one of the major political parties in the country, while decrying another.
“What has to happen is that the political parties must recognize that division here poses a threat to national sovereignty, more than anything else,” he warned.
VENEZUELA FAILS TO MAKE ITS CASE BUT RESORTS TO THREATS
In delving into the case before the Court, Greenidge told the panel moderated by IDPADA-G Representative Elsie Harry, that it was important to note that it was after 63 years of accepting the 1899 Arbitral Award, that Venezuela contended that it was null and void – a contention based primarily on a memorandum by Severo Mallet-Prevost, an international lawyer, who was a junior counsel in the team which presented the Venezuelan case before the Arbitral Tribunal in 1899. The memorandum was released after his death as instructed.
Notably, the 1899 Arbitral Award legally established the location of the land boundary between then British Guiana and Venezuela. “The parties agreed with the award in 1899 and they then went on the ground and mark the spot, and not withstanding that, Venezuela in 1962 tried to stop Guyana from getting its independence from Britain by claiming that the Paris Award was null and void, and calling in essence for it to be negotiated,” the former Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs explained.
From the onset, Guyana has maintained that the award was a full, perfect and final settlement and therefore remains valid to this day.
However, in 1966, the Geneva Agreement was established to the resolve the controversy between Venezuela and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland over the frontier between Venezuela and British Guiana, but more than 50 years after, the controversy remains alive.
Greenidge explained that the UN Secretary-General António Guterres referred the matter to the ICJ, after a Mixed Commission (1966-1970), a 12-year moratorium (1970-1982), a seven-year process of consultations on a means of settlement (1983-1990), and the Good Offices Process (1990-2017) failed to resolve the controversy.
He said through the more than 50 years of trying to resolve the controversy, the Spanish speaking country has failed to submit any evidence that would support its claim that the 1899 Arbitral Award is null and void.
“That information has never been submitted in any of these forums, and I want to emphasize it so it is understood that whilst one of the parties by a process of suggestion and rumor, circulates misinformation about the case that they want to take, that case has never been put to any of the bodies in any of the forum looking at this matter. And rather than looking for this type of solution to the problem, Venezuela has over the years sought to take its own actions to pursue its spurious claim to the Essequibo,” Greenidge stated.
He noted that Venezuela tried to abuse the Good Officer’s Process by impeding Guyana’s development of its land and sea. He noted that there has been incidents involving military force, coercion and bullying by the Spanish-speaking country against Guyana, which have acted as a deterrence to investors.
Military Force and the threat of force included Ankoko Island, Cuyuni occupation (1966); the Sponsored Rupununi uprising 1969; the Leoni Decree – the attempt to seize territorial sea (1968); assault on Eteringbang outpost 1970 and innumerable subsequent military acts; the military seizure of Technics Perdana — seismic survey vessel of Anadarko in 2013; and most recently, the attempted boarding of seismic vessel Ramform Tethys (December 22, 2018).