UN decision “shortly” on border controversy – Foreign Affairs


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs today said that it was expecting “shortly” a decision by the United Nations Secretary-General on the border controversy with Venezuela.

“2017 is over.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs looks forward to sharing more widely the path ahead once we have received the decision of the UN Secretary-General, which we expect shortly,” the Ministry stated.

In mid-February last year, 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.

He said then that if by the end of 2017 no significant progress is made in 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.

There have been a series of meetings between Nylander and representatives of the governments of Guyana and Venezuela since then, with an “enhanced mediation mandate” given to Nylander under the Good Officer process.

The Ministry said that the Opposition was involved in preparations for the final year (2017) of the mediation process, “but rules of confidentiality have bound us beyond that to this stage.”

The Ministry said that the referral of the matter to the International Court of Justice does not require Venezuela’s approval beyond that given in the Geneva Agreement of 1966.

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

Guyana is adamant that the 1899 Tribunal provided “a full, perfect and final settlement” but Venezuela denounced the Arbitral Award in 1962 at the Decolonisation Committee of the UN General Assembly as British Guiana sought 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.

Guyana has set aside US$15 million of a signing bonus with ExxonMobil and its partners to pay legal fees to defend Guyana’s case if the matter is referred to the International Court of Justice.

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