Border controversy: UN Security Council calls for maximum restraint between Guyana and Venezuela

…says resolve differences through peaceful means

Following a private meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), of which Guyana is a non-permanent member, which was convened on Tuesday last to discuss Venezuela’s aggressions towards Guyana, members of the council on Monday urged Venezuela to exercise “maximum restraint.”
In a statement, the UNSC said that members of the Security Council expressed their concern about the possible escalation of tensions between Venezuela and Guyana. They urged the parties to exercise maximum restraint, reminding them of their obligations to comply with the Order of Provisional Measures issued by the International Court of Justice on December 1, 2023.
The Council, the statement said, also underlined the importance of maintaining regional peace and security and ensuring that the Latin American and Caribbean regions remain a Zone of Peace.
In this regard, the council, commended regional efforts, which resulted in the conclusion of the Declaration of Peace and Dialogue of Argyle of 14 December 2023 in which Guyana and Venezuela, inter alia, agreed that any controversy between the two states will be resolved in accordance with international law, including the Geneva Agreement of 1966.
“The members of the Security Council urged the parties to resolve their differences through peaceful means and to uphold their obligations under international law and the United Nations Charter. They also stressed the importance of regional actors playing a facilitating role in easing the tensions,” the statement read.
The members of the security council reaffirmed the importance of upholding the principles of respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity and the prohibition to any party, on the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of another state, as enshrined in Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter.
The meeting on Tuesday was held under agenda item “Threats to international peace and security”. The brief had stated that Venezuela would be expected to participate in the private meeting under rule 37 of the UNSC’s provisional rules of procedure.
Rule 37 provides for non-UNSC members to participate in discussions at the Council, at the Council’s invitation, “in the discussion of any question brought before the Security Council when the Security Council considers that the interests of that Member are specially affected, or when a member brings a matter to the attention of the Security Council.”
President Dr Irfaan Ali dispatched an April 5 letter to the Council invoking Article 35 (1) of the UN Charter. Further, it was explained that Assistant Secretary General for Europe, Central Asia and the Americas, Miroslav Jenča would provide the brief during the meeting. Additionally, it was noted that members of the UNSC are expected to urge Venezuela to follow the Argyle Declaration.
In the letter requesting the meeting, Ali cited the “Organic Law for the Defense of Guayana Esequiba”, which Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro signed on April 3. 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 December 3, 2023 referendum. He added that the law “establishes the creation of state number 24, the state of Guayana Esequiba within the political and territorial organisation 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.
According to a brief, in his April 5 letter, Dr Ali said that the law violates the ICJ’s December 1, 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 bases of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Essequibo, calling it a “dangerous narrative”.
In a brief statement on social media, Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud had said previously that the planned meeting would “address Maduro’s violation of the rules of international law requiring States to respect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of other States, as well as the International Court of Justice”.
It was only on Monday last that Venezuela finally submitted its counter-memorial on the border controversy case to the ICJ – the very last day the World Court had given the country to do so. Ironically enough, members of the Venezuelan Diaspora in the Netherlands were on hand to protest and boo the Venezuelan entourage as they left the Peace Palace.
In a video message, President Ali welcomed the decision and further expressed hope that Venezuela would continue to cooperate in the border case – which it has been reluctant to do, despite the court ruling since 2020 that it has jurisdiction to hear and decide the case.
Venezuela is already attracting widespread condemnation for its recent promulgation of a “Law for the defense of Essequibo” in its National Assembly, which was condemned as infringing on Guyana’s sovereignty.
The controversial law was promulgated at the instigation of President Maduro last week, in his bid to establish Guyana’s sovereign Essequibo region as a state within his country.
In addition to the OAS and Caricom, the Commonwealth Secretariat has also expressed concern over the recent actions of the Venezuelan regime.
The last time the UNSC met to discuss the border controversy had been in December 2023. At the time, the UNSC had convened privately to discuss the intensifying border controversy between Guyana and Venezuela at a time when the latter was advancing efforts to seize the oil-rich Essequibo.