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GEORGETOWN – The Guyana government says the recent exercise to identify the markers demarcating the boundary between Guyana and Venezuela is important as Guyana gears up to litigate the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award.
Foreign Affairs Minister and Second Vice President, Carl Greenidge, said the country is awaiting the final decision from the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, now that another year of the Good Offices Process is winding down.
The Secretary General’s Personal Representative, Norwegian Diplomat, Dag Nylander, is to submit his report on the meetings he facilitated between the two countries to Guterres.
The engagements between the UN representative and the South American neighbours were concluded in November and according to Greenidge, there have only been three meetings between the two countries in October since Nylander’s appointment earlier this year.
Greenidge said Guyana has intensified its bilateral activism with other countries to ensure the Secretary General honours his obligations which is “he must refer the matter to the Court (International Court of Justice) at the end of 2017 unless there is significant progress in resolving the matter”.
Guyana has maintained that Venezuela’s claims on the nullity of the Award is a legal matter that must be resolved in the court. In 1962, Venezuela refused to recognise the 1899 Arbitral Award saying it was null and void.
“If they are saying a decision is null and void it is only a law court can decide on the meaning of nullity…not whether Venezuela should get a piece more land,” Greenidge said.
The 1966 Geneva Agreement identified the UN Secretary General to resolve the matter using a menu of measures under Article 33 of the UN agreement.
“We call on the Secretary-General to look at his mandate and to refer the matter to the highest court in the world, the ICJ,” Greenidge said.
The more than 50-year-old controversy has since grown to include Venezuela’s claims to two-thirds of Guyana, Essequibo, and almost all of Guyana’s maritime Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The identification of the boundary marker by the Guyana Defence Force and Police Force is an annual exercise.
“It is important to maintain the markers because you don’t want people moving them and shifting them into Guyana so that Venezuela can claim even more territory that is currently the case,” Greenidge said.
He said it is important for all Guyanese to take an interest in the resolution of this controversy.
“Between the two neighbours (Venezuela and Suriname) if they get their wishes there will be no Guyana and you must understand that,” Greenidge said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is expected to intensify its sensitisation of Guyanese on the Guyana Venezuela controversy. The outreach is to supplement booklets that were created to educate Guyanese on the matter. (CMC)