Border Controversy: Granger says Venezuela increasingly ‘blustering and militaristic’


By Neil Marks in New York

President David Granger has urged the United Nations to ensure that Venezuela is not allowed to thwart the processes of judicial settlement which would settle the longstanding border controversy raised by Venezuela over 50 years ago.

“Guyana warns the world, through this Assembly, that peace will be at stake in our region if justice does not become ascendant, not only within Venezuela, but also in respect to its border controversy with Guyana,” Granger said in an address to the 72nd United Nations General Assembly.

In mid-February this year, the new UN Secretary-General António Guterres appointed Dag Halvor Nylander of Norway as his Personal Representative on the Border Controversy, saying efforts at mediation would continue until the end of 2017.

“If, by the end of 2017, the Secretary-General concludes that no significant progress has been made towards arriving at a full agreement for the solution of the controversy, he will choose the International Court of Justice as the next means of settlement, unless the Governments of Guyana and Venezuela jointly request that he refrain from doing so,” the UN had stated.

In his speech, President Granger said Guyana has been working assiduously with the Secretary General’s Personal Representative.

Guyana looks to the international community to ensure that Venezuela is not allowed to thwart the processes of judicial settlement which is the clear and agreed path to peace and justice,” the President stated.

The President called the United Nations the paramount global instrument of peace and as such has a vital role to play in ensuring respect for international law through the International Court of Justice and the Security Council.

He said this “striving for peace” must aim at resolving long-standing inter-state conflicts and therefore noted Guyana’s support for the reform of the Security Council to give even greater voice to developing countries.

President Granger reiterated what he said was the danger and “the peril” Guyana has been facing on our borders as a consequence of the territorial claims of Venezuela. 

“Venezuela’s claim to Guyana’s territory, however, has not diminished or been diverted. Guyana remains imperilled,” the President declared.

He said the Venezuelan claim to Guyana’s territorial integrity would be a threat to the Caribbean as a zone of peace. Venezuela claims two-thirds of Guyana’s territory including the country’s maritime space.

“We depend on our territorial and maritime resources for development and for the release of our people from poverty,” Granger noted.

By the Geneva Agreement of February 17, 1966, Guyana and Venezuela allowed for the UN Secretary General to determine a resolution to controversy which arose after Venezuelan contented that the Arbitral Award of 1899 which settled the country’s border was null and void.

President Granger said the 1899 Tribunal provided “a full, perfect and final settlement” but Venezuela denounced that Arbitral Award in 1962 at the Decolonisation Committee of the UN General Assembly as British Guiana strove for its Independence.

Guyana has accused Venezuela of a series of acts of aggression, starting with a Presidential decree of June 1968.  The border controversy flared again in early 2015 when American firm Exxon Mobil announced that it had made a “significant” oil discovery.

After threatening the company, the Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro issued a decree on May 26, 2015, seeking to extend Venezuela’s land claim to also annex the country’s maritime space. Four years ago, Venezuela sent a naval ship into Guyanese waters and seized a U.S.-chartered oil survey ship and escorted it to Margarita Island.

In September 2015, Guyanese authorities also said the Venezuela army was up the Cuyuni River. In October, Canadian-based mining company Guyana Goldfields said it had received an “unfounded” notification of possible legal action by Venezuela over its operations in Guyana.

“Four UN Secretaries-General have been seized of the Venezuelan claims. The choice has become one between just and peaceful settlement in accordance with international law, and a Venezuelan posture of attrition that is increasingly more blustering and militaristic.

“In this matter, protraction is the enemy of resolution and the ally of sustained conflict,” President Granger stated.

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