Guyana/Venezuela border controversy: Canada reaffirms support for Guyana during ICJ process

Through its High Commissioner to Guyana, Mark Berman, Canada on Wednesday reaffirmed support for the judicial process embarked on at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to settle the border controversy between Guyana and Venezuela.

Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana, Mark Berman and Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Todd

High Commissioner Berman paid a courtesy call on Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Hugh Todd, during which they discussed areas of mutual interest towards advancing bilateral relations between Guyana and Canada.
Minister Todd also provided an update on the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy and Guyana’s submissions in its memorial on the merits of the case in regard to the Arbitral Award of 1899 (Guyana vs Venezuela) to the International Court of Justice.
“To this end, High Commissioner Berman reaffirmed Canada’s support for the International Court of Justice process,” an Information Note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said.
Guyana moved to the World Court after exhausting all means of negotiation with Venezuela and the failed Good Offices Process between the two South American neighbours. Then 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.
The ICJ is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. It was established by the United Nations Charter in June 1945, and began its activities in April 1946. The Court is composed of 15 Judges, elected for a nine-year term by the General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations. The seat of the Court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands).
Back in March 2021, the ICJ had granted Guyana until March 8, 2022 to file its written submissions for the case, after requesting 12 months. Venezuela was given until March 8, 2023 to submit its counter-memorial.
Guyana subsequently submitted its written submissions on time. In the Ministry’s statement back in March 2022, it was noted that Guyana now looks to the Court’s judicial process to settle the matter in accordance with the rule of law.
According to the Ministry, the true commemoration of the 1966 Geneva Agreement is to participate fully in the juridical process… possibly a reference to Venezuela, which has been denying the jurisdiction of the court, despite the court already ruling it has this jurisdiction.
The Spanish-speaking nation is laying claims to more than two-thirds of Guyana’s landmass, the Essequibo, and a portion of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in which more than nine billion barrels of oil have been discovered over the past six years.
In his address to the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly last year, President Dr Irfaan Ali had informed the world about Venezuela’s continued disregard for international norm in pushing its illegal claim to Guyana and its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The President had also used meetings with the Heads of Governments of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) to update them on Venezuela’s actions, which had run the gamut from incendiary statements to issuing decrees. Following his meeting with Caricom, the community had issued a statement rebuking Venezuela and urging it to adhere to the ICJ process.