The Venezuelan Government has refused to file documents countering Guyana’s arguments that the International Court of Justice can hear and determine the long-standing controversy over the 1899 arbitral award that settled the borders of the two countries.
Last year, the Court determined that a case needs to be made out showing why it has the power to hear the case and make a judgement; in so doing, it invited the two parties to submit their arguments.
Guyana submitted its written “memorial on jurisdiction” on November 19, 2018.
The court had set April 18 as the date for Venezuela to submit a counter-memorial, but did not do so, and indicated this in a letter from its Foreign Minister.
As a result, Guyana has decided to ask the Court to proceed directly to the holding of oral hearings, at the earliest possible date, to determine its jurisdiction over the case.
“Guyana is confident that the Court will agree that it has jurisdiction, and then proceed to decide on the merits of Guyana’s suit,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Thursday.
Guyana submitted the case to the Court after the Secretary-General of the United Nations determined, pursuant to his authority under the Geneva Agreement of 1966 – to which Guyana, Venezuela and the United Kingdom are Parties — that the dispute over the validity of the Arbitral Award, and the resulting boundary, must be decided by the Court.
That constitutes a sufficient jurisdictional basis for the Court to proceed, Guyana contends.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “Guyana regrets that Venezuela, notwithstanding its obligations under the Geneva Agreement and the Secretary General’s decision to refer the matter to the Court, has chosen not to participate in the case.”
However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the door remains open to Venezuela to join in the proceedings, which will continue to a final and legally-binding judgment, pursuant to the Court’s rules, whether Venezuela participates or not.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the government took noted of the Venezuelan Foreign Minister’s recent tweet that, at some point in the future, it will supply the Court with “information” about the case to assist it in the exercise of its judicial functions.
“If this is a first step toward Venezuela’s full participation in the case, Guyana welcomes it.
“At the same time, Guyana has reserved its right to object to any submission by Venezuela that violates the Court’s rules or is otherwise prejudicial,” the Ministry stated.
The next step will be for the Court to schedule the dates for the oral hearing on jurisdiction.