US throws support behind Guyana over Venezuela’s new border claim
The United States has denounced Venezuela’s new claim of the maritime border west of Guyana’s Essequibo Coast.
Last week, the Nicolás Maduro Government issued a decree claiming for Venezuela sovereignty and exclusive sovereign rights in the waters and seabed adjacent to Guyana’s coast, west of the Essequibo River – a move which President Dr Irfaan Ali has staunchly rejected.
On Sunday, the US threw its support behind Guyana, saying that Guyana’s application currently before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the legal and peaceful way in settling the decades-long border controversy between the neighbouring states.
On Sunday evening, US Ambassador to Guyana Sarah-Ann Lynch tweeted, “The United States has long called for a legal peaceful resolution to Guyana’s border controversy with Venezuela and we reiterate that call today.”
The diplomat at the time had shared a post made minutes earlier by Acting Assistant Secretary for US Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Michael Kozak.
In his tweet, Ambassador Kozak reiterated that the US supports the ICJ’s December 18, 2020 ruling that it has jurisdiction in the Guyana-Venezuela territorial border controversy case, which he contended is the “legal and peaceful way forward.”
“Maduro’s aggressive claims don’t change this, they only show the world his disregard for his neighbours and intl. law,” the State Department official posited.
The new decree issued by President Maduro comes days before the world court is scheduled to hold a case management hearing on Guyana’s application for a final and binding settlement of the border controversy with Venezuela.
However, President Ali on Saturday declared 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.
Meanwhile, President Ali also disclosed during Saturday’s address to the nation that Venezuela’s Head of Mission in Guyana would be summoned to the Foreign Affairs Ministry over the decree.
Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Todd was instructed to inform the Officer-in-Charge to convey to the Venezuelan authorities in Caracas that in accordance with international law, and its assertion of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, Guyana rejects entirely the decree issued by President Maduro.
Nevertheless, President Ali posited that the Guyana Government is alerting the international community, including sister States in the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and in the Americas of the danger to international peace and security that is being threatened by last Thursday’s Venezuela decree which violates fundamental principles of international law.
Venezuela’s decreeing of sovereign rights to maritime border off of Guyana’s Essequibo Coast came the same day the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) announced that its Coast Guard and the United States Coast Guard would commence the first of a series of joint exercises off the coast of Guyana.
This is part of the operationalisation of the Shiprider Agreement ratified by Guyana and the US back in September 2020 during the visit of US Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo.
The exercise will take place off the coast of Guyana and will focus mainly on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. It will be conducted in collaboration with the US Coast Guard Cutter STONE vessel, which is currently in the region for a multi-country tour.
Additionally, the US Embassy in Guyana had announced the same day that the Commander of US Southern Command, US Navy Admiral Craig Faller, will visit Guyana from today, January 11 to January 13. He will meet with Government and defence leaders and discuss the bilateral security partnership between the United States and Guyana during the two-day visit.