Despite an ongoing battle between Guyana and Venezuela in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) about the border controversy between the two countries, the Spanish speaking nation has now issued a new Decree to claim for itself, the land and seabed west of the Essequibo Coast.
This claim which was issued by Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro, comes days before the ICJ is scheduled to hold a case management hearing on Guyana’s application for a final and binding settlement of the border controversy his country.
Guyana’s President, Dr. Irfaan Ali, in a special address to the Nation on Saturday afternoon (today) vehemently rejected such a move by the Venezuelan President, as he emphasised that this new claim would be a “legal nullity” which is not going to be recognised by Guyana or any State in the world.
Ali stated that Guyana has “always chosen a path of peaceful resolution of the Venezuelan issue with international law. It is therefore deeply disturbing that on January 7th the President of Venezuela , Mr Nicolas Maduro, issued a decree claiming for Venezuela’s sovereignty and exclusive sovereign rights in the waters and seabed adjacent to Guyana’s Coast west of the Essequibo River.”
As such, he deemed the latest move by the Venezuelan Government to be “deeply disturbing” but posited that it would not change the route Guyana is pursuing in obtaining a final, binding resolution at the ICJ.
“Guyana has maintained an Embassy in Venezuela accredited to the Government. Equally, we have continued to welcome a Venezuelan Embassy in Guyana accredited to our Government. In other words, Guyana has kept all official channels of communication open to the Government of Venezuela . We have done so even as we pursued our right to request the UN Secretary General to refer to the ICJ the longstanding contention with Venezuela over the 1899 arbitral award.”
President Ali noted that Venezuela’s decree breaches fundamental principles of International law and reminded that no nation can determine its own boundaries, except through an agreement with its neighbors or a judgment from the International Court.
“I remind that sovereignty over this coast and the land it is attached to was awarded to Guyana, then British Guiana, in the 1899 arbitral award, whose validity Guyana is confident the ICJ will uphold unequivocally,” the Guyanese President added.