Venezuela agreed for the ICJ to resolve its border controversy

Once again, the Maduro government attempted to have their cake and eat it on the settlement of the border controversy he has been exploiting to save his collapsing regime. Insisting that Venezuela does not recognize the ICJ’s jurisdiction to conclusively settle the controversy, he yet sent his VP Delcy Rodriguez last week to submit a “counter-memorial” to plead their case before the Court’s deadline expired. And once again, they reiterated that the Geneva Agreement of 1966 remains the sole legitimate framework for resolving the dispute, as agreed upon by both nations. “This Agreement is in force and is the regulatory framework that must be complied with in good faith by the parties, in accordance with international law.”
This time, however, VP Delcy Rodriguez, as part of the evidence presented to the ICJ, claimed that ExxonMobil paid US$18 million to the Guyanese Government to take the case to the ICJ in a “notorious violation” of the 1966 Geneva Agreement. We know that the US$18 million was the measly bonus accepted by Trotman of the APNU/AFC coalition Government for signing the even more measly PSA to exploit the Stabroek Block. But we believe we Guyanese must understand clearly that we have been diligently following the Geneva Agreement from its inception in 1966 into the present. If Maduro and Venezuela are serious about their adherence to that Agreement, then we will demonstrate they cannot reject the jurisdiction of the ICJ.
The Geneva Agreement consists of a mere eight Articles, with Art 1-4 outlining the steps to be taken to resolve the controversy, where Venezuela claims the Arbitral Award of 1899 settling our border is null and void. Articles 1, 2 and 3 mandated the establishment of a Mixed Commission and outlined its mechanisms, one of which is to submit reports every six months. After four years – which would be 1970 – if an agreement was not reached, within three months of receiving the final report Art 4 declared, “(t)hose Governments shall without delay choose one of the means of peaceful settlement provided in Article 33 of the Charter of the United Nations…(and)…failing agreement on this point, to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.”
In 1970, however, the two governments agreed to a 12-year Moratorium in the Protocol of Port of Spain, which expired in 1983 when Venezuela refused to extend it. It was then that, in accordance with Art 4, Venezuela and Guyana both agreed that the matter be passed on to the UN Secretary-General. And that he “shall choose another of the means stipulated in Article 33 of the Charter of the United Nations, and so on until the controversy has been resolved, or until all the means of peaceful settlement there contemplated have been exhausted.”
The Secretary-General conducted Good Offices from 1990 to 2017, in which he appointed four Personal Representatives – Alister McIntyre (1990-1999); Oliver Jackman (1999-2007); Norman Girvan (2010-2014) and Dag Halvor Nylander (2017-2018) – who unsuccessfully engaged in intensive high-level discussions to resolve the controversy. Venezuela was in full agreement with the matter being in the hands of the UN Secretary-General, and engaged fully with his personal representatives.
In the hiatus after the passing of Girvan in 2014, former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon communicated to the parties, on 15 December 2016, that he concluded the Good Offices Process would continue until the end of 2017 with a strengthened mandate of mediation, and that, if significant progress had not been made by that time towards arriving at a full agreement for the solution of the controversy, he would choose the International Court of Justice as the next means of settlement, unless the Governments of Guyana and Venezuela jointly requested that he refrain from doing so. Guyana did not indicate that he should refrain, and on 30 January 2018, his successor Antonio Guterres chose the ICJ as the means to be used for the solution of the controversy.
Following this decision, Guyana filed an application instituting proceedings against Venezuela with the International Court of Justice on 29 March 2018. It was thus the UN system and its Sect General, rather than Exxon, that decided on selecting the ICJ in accordance with the Geneva Agreement. The paltry bonus was simply used to pay legal fees.
But while Maduro will continue to play the rogue in the international system, Guyana’s faith will be vindicated when the ICJ rules in its favour, in accordance with international law.

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