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The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has set January 15, 2021 for the hosting of a Case Management Conference (CMC) for the 1899 Arbitral Award Case – Guyana-v-Venezuela.
This is according to Guyana’s Agent, Carl B. Greenidge. In making the disclosure in a letter to the editor published in the Stabroek Newspaper on Sunday, Greenidge, explained that the border controversy case could take another two to three years to be completed, as he rejected reports that it could take close to a decade.
“Guyana would certainly not want to give the Court the impression that we would expect the exercise to take such an inordinately long time or that we would be comfortable with such a delay, especially if the other party does not participate in the hearings. Contrary to the newspaper report, I do not think that the second leg of the ICJ exercise should take more than two to three and a half years!,” the former Foreign Minister said.
By a 12-4 majority, the ICJ, on December 18, 2020, ruled that it had jurisdiction to determine the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award, in keeping with a recommendation by the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres.
Though it opted not to participate in the case, the Spanish speaking country, had submitted that the ICJ had no jurisdiction to hear the case, but the Court, in agreeing with the arguments put by Guyana, ruled that that the 1966 Geneva Agreement laid the foundation for judicial settlement.
“…By virtue of Article IV, paragraph 2, of the Geneva Agreement, the parties [Guyana and Venezuela] accepted the possibility of the controversy being resolved by means of judicial settlement,” President of the ICJ, Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf said as he handed down the judgement at the Peace Palace in The Hague.
Greenidge said with Venezuela opting not to participate, the case is not likely to surpass another two to three years.
“What we now know is that the case management will take place on January 15, 2021 and that the Court will then decide on the time to be allocated for the different elements of the hearing – presentation by the two sides and responses then deliberation by the judges. None of these elements could take a year each and if Venezuela continues to abstain from participation at least two elements will be suppressed,” he explained.
The 1899 Arbitral Award legally established the location of the land boundary between then British Guiana and Venezuela. However, Venezuela, after more than 60 years of the issuance of the 1899 Arbitral Award, contended that it was null and void but Guyana has long maintained that the award was a full, perfect and final settlement and therefore remains valid to this day.
In January, 2018, the UN Secretary-General resorted to the Court after the 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.