Guyana’s maritime boundaries with C’bean nations hinges on ICJ ruling

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Fruitful discussions on Guyana’s overlapping maritime boundaries with Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago is dependent on the outcome of the court case regarding the border controversy with Venezuela.

The majority of the Caribbean’s international maritime boundaries are yet to be established, owing to several unresolved boundary matters among Caribbean nations.

Though not much progress can be made with just two countries, newly-elected Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley has signalled her interest in furthering talks on that island’s overlapping boundary with Guyana.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Greenidge told a news conference on Monday that President David Granger, in turn, agreed that technical experts of both countries can look at the situation.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge

Despite the boundaries between Guyana and Barbados are yet to be established, the two countries had in 2003 signed an agreement for joint cooperation in the overlapping area.

Many of the maritime boundaries in the Caribbean overlap, because the majority of the nations are situated in close proximity to each other.

Greenidge explained that therefore, in order to have a definitive resolution, all parties must be involved.

“…it becomes difficult for us to simply negotiate a boundary with one partner when the boundaries overlap with two or three. We can’t bind the third partner if the two of you meet…,” he explained, adding that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) can be invoked to guide the process.

The Minister said there is also a likelihood of some talks with Trinidad and Tobago.

He explained that the two countries are about to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on energy and this might open the floor to discussions on maritime space.

Greenidge said whatever talks are to take place hinge largely on the outcome of the Guyana/Venezuela border controversy which is currently before the International Court of Justice for a final and binding decision on the matter.

The Foreign Minister updated that both local and international lawyers are working around the clock for Guyana’s preparation before the International Court of Justice where it is hoping for a favourable ruling to resolve the border controversy with neighbouring Venezuela.

Guyana has to prepare a document known as a memorial, which is basically petition or representation of its case, for filing at the World Court by November 19, 2018.

Venezuela was given April 18, 2019, to file its counter-memorial but that country has since expressed an unwillingness to participate in the process.

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