Countries in Guiana Shield must work together to preserve security & defence – PM

…urges countries to recommit to Guiana Shield pact

The importance of countries within the Guiana Shield working together to address security and defense issues in the region was on Monday highlighted by Prime Minister, retired Brigadier Mark Phillips.

Representatives of the various countries comprising the Guiana Shield

He made these remarks during the Guiana Shield Dialogue hosted by the Guyana Defense Force (GDF) at the Marriott Hotel. While giving the keynote address, the Prime Minister spoke of security and defense in the Guiana Shield.
According to the Prime Minister, the collective efforts of the Guiana Shield cannot stop here but rather, must go further if the territorial integrity of the shield is to be preserved. Further, there must be increased collaboration among the various countries.
“The Guiana Shield Strategic Dialogue therefore must continue to play a crucial role in fostering understanding, building relationships and promoting cooperation among our countries, to address the complex challenges before us and help us to achieve common objectives,” Phillips said.
“Protection and the integrity of our respective territories are among those objectives. Coordination and to have a coordinated approach against transnational crime is another of those objectives. Coordinated attention to the security and defense issues of the Guiana Shield is of paramount importance.”
Phillips also made reference to the Guiana Shield Facility, a fund that was launched back in 2012 to allow countries to contribute to incentivising the protection of the environment. He noted that further research and the empowerment of local communities must be encouraged.
“The challenges facing the Guiana Shield require a consorted and collaborative effort. We must forge partnerships and renew our shared commitment to protecting this invaluable region. The power of partnerships must always be emphasised in cross national interests,” the Prime Minister also said.
“We must seek to harness the power of collective action to address the root causes of environmental degradation and ensure the long-term sustainability of the Guiana shield. As we gather here today, I feel a sense of duty to urge us all to recommit ourselves to the Guiana Shield through this strategic dialogue.”
Phillips also talked about the impact of illegal mining and logging in the Guiana Shield. He also spoke of the threat posed by climate change, including rising temperatures and more frequent extreme weather events.
“Addressing these challenges necessitates a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach that integrates conservation endeavors, sustainable development initiatives and enhances governance and law enforcement measures. Through promoting sustainable land use practices, backing community-based conservation efforts and fostering collaborations among governments, NGO’s and local communities, worthwhile initiatives towards securing a more robust and sustainable future for the Guiana Shield.”
The Prime Minister spoke of the strides that have been taken towards safeguarding the Guiana Shield by the government itself. These efforts include establishing protected areas and sustainable land management practices and community-based conservation.
There has been work within the Guiana Shield, which comprises of Guyana, French Guiana, Suriname and Brazil, to improve collaboration. During the first edition of the Guiana Shield Strategic Dialogue, these three countries came together to discuss a common security masterplan back in 2021.
During a trilateral engagement in Cayenne, French Guiana, where Guyana was represented by Prime Minister Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips, the discussion centered on joint security threats and challenges facing the countries. The dialogue also underscored the importance of shared respective understanding of the regional strategic defence and security environment.
The issues of how the countries can collaborate and structure their operational and technical cooperation in the fight against the security threats and other challenges facing the populations, territories, maritime space and interests were also discussed.
Within the framework of the Guiana Shield Strategic Dialogue on security and defence and to develop a common security masterplan, the various sides agreed to exchange views and work closely on technical and operational areas, including increased joined land, and sea patrol missions.
Additionally, it was agreed to strive for a global and coordinated approach against illicit trafficking and serious crimes, including drug trafficking, illegal gold mining, environmental crimes and irregular immigration with a focus on anticipation, threat assessment, prevention.
The third area that was agreed to was response and increasing joint attention to the environment and climate change, including security and defense impact on climate change and to help safeguard essential conditions for peace and sustainable development.
Within the Guiana Shield, there is also the Guyana/Venezuela border controversy. In 2018, Guyana moved to the World Court seeking a final and binding ruling on the October 3, 1899 Arbitral Award, which settled the land boundary between the two countries.
Earlier this month, Venezuela promulgated “the Organic Law for the Defense of Guayana Esequiba”, which gave effect to the Spanish speaking country’s December 3, 2023 referendum seeking to annex Essequibo. This move was widely criticised throughout the region. (G3)