Guyana reserves right to pursue economic development – Pres Ali responds to Venezuela’s threats
… warns Venezuela against any unilateral actions following communiqué
Just hours after Venezuela issued a communique against the recently concluded bid round of Guyana’s oil blocks’ auction, President Dr Irfaan Ali has rejected Venezuelan utterances and warned against any unilateral actions.
Last week, Guyana concluded the bid round of its historic oil blocks’ auction, receiving 14 offers for oil blocks offshore. A total of 14 blocks were up for auction. On Tuesday, however, Venezuela issued a communique in which it protested against this oil block auction, even though all the blocks are in Guyana’s sovereign territory.
In its communique, Venezuela said: “Guyana does not have sovereign rights over these maritime areas and consequently any action within their limits. It is a violation of International Law, as long as they are not carried out through an agreement with Venezuela.”
Venezuela further said that “any illicit and arbitrary concession that Guyana grants, has granted or intends to grant in the areas in question is unacceptable and violates its sovereign rights, and warns that these actions do not generate any type of rights to third parties who participate in said process.”
President Ali has since issued a response rejecting Venezuela’s utterances. In the statement, the President made it clear that Guyana reserves the right to conduct the auction on any portion of its sovereign territory.
President Ali further warned that any unilateral attempts by Venezuelans to restrict Guyana’s exercise of its sovereignty will not only breach international law but the Geneva Agreement. The Geneva Agreement in question is the 1966 agreement, which reinforced the 1899 Arbitral Award that confirmed Essequibo as belonging to Guyana.
“The Government of Guyana reserves the right to pursue economic development activities in any portion of its sovereign territory or any appurtenant maritime territories. Any unilateral attempt by Venezuela to restrict the exercise by Guyana of its sovereignty and sovereign rights will be wholly inconsistent with the Geneva Agreement and the rule of international law,” President Ali sternly noted.
In addition, Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Amanza Walton-Desir in a statement noted that the APNU/AFC parliamentary Opposition supports the position taken by the Government of Guyana in response to the latest attempt by Venezuela to undermine our sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“We affirm that it is the right of the Government of Guyana to pursue economic activities in any portion of its sovereign territory or any appurtenant maritime territories, for the benefit of the people of Guyana,” the statement added.
Venezuela has long sought to renege on these agreements and at present, Guyana currently has a case against Venezuela before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Both Guyana and Venezuela had presented submissions on this matter before the World Court in November 2022.
Guyana’s legal team is headed by Co-Agent and Counsel, Sir Shridath Ramphal, and includes a member of the Bars of the United States Supreme Court and the District of Columbia, Paul S Reichler; and Professor Emeritus of the University Paris Nanterre, former Chairman of the International Law Commission and member of the Institute de Droit International, Alain Pellet.
United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, in January 2018, decided that the case should be settled by the ICJ, after exercising the powers vested in him to decide how the controversy should be settled by the 1966 Geneva Agreement between Guyana, Venezuela, and the United Kingdom.
He resorted to judicial settlement after the good offices process between Guyana and Venezuela failed. Within the framework of the 1966 Geneva Agreement between the two countries, the Secretary General conducted good offices from 1990 to 2017 to find a solution to the border controversy.
Among other things, Guyana is asking the ICJ to adjudge and declare that the 1899 Award is valid and binding upon Guyana and Venezuela, that Venezuela is internationally responsible for violations of Guyana’s sovereignty and sovereign rights, and for all injuries suffered by Guyana as a consequence.
Venezuela is laying claim to more than two-thirds of Guyana’s landmass in Essequibo. The Spanish-speaking country is also claiming a portion of Guyana’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in which more than eleven billion barrels of proven reserves are estimated to exist. (G-3)