While Suriname has not showed any form of aggression towards Guyana although the two countries still have a border issue over the New River Triangle territory, the process of mediation aimed at coming to a friendly settlement could commence before the end of this year.
Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge has said that while there has not been any progress with regard to the request made by Guyana to have the Netherlands assist Suriname with documents to support their arguments, a joint commission that was established for many years now could be reactivated.
“The joint commission is to be reactivated between the two sides and this is one of the things they will take up again. We have identified members of that commission on our side and they haven’t met since 2015. One can expect they can meet before the end of this year and that will breathe some life again into that dialogue so that we can resolve this issue,” Greenidge said.
Back in October 2015, President David Granger had called on Suriname to hand over its documents to Guyana for scrutiny, taking into account that Guyana has already done the same. Granger has said that Suriname should ask the Netherlands Government to open the relevant Dutch archives to facilitate research by both sides, but Suriname has not been forthcoming with any information.
The President had also called on Suriname to take the border issue to an internationally recognised adjudicatory body if it is convinced that its claim can withstand legal scrutiny. He said Guyana was of the view that if an agreement could not be reached at the bilateral level within a given time-frame, the matter should be taken to adjudication so that this controversy could be concluded.
President Granger has explained that Suriname’s claim to the Corentyne River area also remained a matter of contention since there has never been a treaty that clearly demarcated the boundary between the neighbouring countries.
He had said that Guyana was confident that the boundary between the countries was definitively established by 1936. He added that there was an agreement as to what constituted the territory of Guyana and what constituted the territory of Suriname despite the fact that there was no formal treaty that captured that agreement.
Greenidge said recently that while the main issue of contention right now as regards border matters was between the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy, the Foreign Affairs Ministry would continue to actively pursue the matter between Guyana and Suriname aimed at hopefully reaching an amicable solution.
In mid-2011, Surinamese President Desi Bouterse brought up the issue again and said that his country would be pursuing actions, based on international law, to explore the possibility of the issue being handled by means of a friendly settlement.
The New River Triangle border issue between Guyana and Suriname dates to 1840. In 1936, a Mixed Commission established by the British and Dutch Governments agreed to award the full width of the Corentyne River to Suriname, as per the 1799 agreement.
The territorial sea boundary was deemed to prolongate 10 degrees from Point No 61, three miles from the shore. The New River Triangle, however, was completely awarded to Guyana.
The treaty putting this agreement into law was never ratified, because of the outbreak of World War II.
In 1936, the Dutch representative Conrad Carel Käyser signed an agreement with British and Brazilian representatives, placing the tri-point junction near the source of the Kutari River.
Desiring to put the border issue to rest before British Guiana gained independence, the British Government restarted negotiations in 1961. The British position asserted “Dutch sovereignty over the Corentyne River, a 10° line dividing the territorial sea, and British control over the New River Triangle.”
No agreements were made and Guyana became independent with its borders unresolved. In 1969, border skirmishes occurred between Guyanese forces and Surinamese militias.
In 1971, the Surinamese and Guyanese Governments agreed in Trinidad to withdraw military forces from the Triangle.
The maritime boundary has long been disputed between Guyana and Suriname as well, and led in 2000 to conflict between a CGX oil rig doing work for Guyana and the Surinamese coast guard.