…as final resolution of Guyana vs Venezuela at ICJ looms
In the wake of the recent renewal of Venezuela’s claim to Guyana’s Essequibo region and its maritime space, Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Chief of Staff Godfrey Bess has assured that the army has stepped up its vigilance on Guyana’s border, while a peaceful and binding solution is pursued at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
Chief of Staff Brigadier General Godfrey Bess was at the time fielding questions from the media after signing an agreement with the United States Department of Defense. When asked, Bess noted that the Guyana Defence Force has indeed stepped up its vigilance on Guyana’s borders.
“We have changed our postures on the border. And we are there, more alert and like I said, are ready to constitutionally continue to preserve Guyana’s patrimony,” the Brigadier General explained.
At the same time, he took care to remind that the Government’s position is for Guyana to first and foremost use its diplomatic channels and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to seek a resolution. Already, the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and other regional and international players have thrown their support behind Guyana.
On Thursday last, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro issued a presidential decree reinforcing his country’s illegal claim to Guyana’s Essequibo region. Additionally, the Venezuelan President announced that he has written to Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) Antonio Guterres, to lead direct negotiations between the two countries, as opposed to the binding judgement of the ICJ.
That option has been exhausted, however, as the UN tried to mediate discussions between Guyana and Venezuela for years as part of an ultimately futile good offices process until Guyana activated its right to take Venezuela to the ICJ in 2018 to get a final ruling on the border issue.
In the wake of Maduro’s decree, condemnation has flowed from President Dr Irfaan Ali, Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon and even the United States.
President Ali, who is the Commander-in-Chief, declared on Saturday that while this latest move by the Spanish-speaking nation is “deeply disturbing”, it will not deter Guyana’s resolve to seek a final and binding resolution at the ICJ.
“We have always chosen a path of peaceful resolution of the Venezuelan issue within international law… I remind that sovereignty over this coast, and the land territory to which it is attached, were awarded to Guyana (then British Guiana) in the 1899 Arbitral Award, whose validity and legally binding character Guyana is confident the International Court of Justice (ICJ) will uphold unequivocally,” President Ali asserted during an address to the nation.
According to the Head of State, Venezuela has violated at least two fundament principles of international law, that is, no State can unilaterally determine its international boundaries and the fundamental principle that “the land dominates the sea”, meaning that sovereignty over the sea and seabed emanate from title to the land that forms the coast to which those seas and seabed are adjacent.
To this end, the Guyanese leader said that Venezuela’s new border claim is a “legal nullity” that will not be recognised by Guyana or any other State in the world. The ICJ is meanwhile scheduled to hold a case management conference for the border controversy on Friday. (G3)