Sir Shridath Ramphal calls for unity ahead of ICJ hearing on border case


Former Foreign Affairs Minister, Sir Shridath Ramphal has issued a call for peace during and after the March 2 general and regional elections, as any disruption can have an impact on Guyana’s case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) just three weeks later.

From March 23 -27, the ICJ will hold public hearings at the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, to address the question of whether the court has jurisdiction to hear the Guyana/Venezuela border case.

Speaking at the dedication of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Protocol office in his name on Thursday, Sir Shridath noted that the period after the elections can be fractious to any democracy.

Former Foreign Affairs Minister, Sir Shridath Ramphal

“The closing days of a national election and the days after it when it pronounces its democratic decision, those days are fractious ones in any democracy and Guyana is not immune from this but we do have a greater need than usual to demonstrate to the world that our national motto (One People, One Nation, One Destiny) does describe us,” Sir Shridath said on Thursday at the re-commissioning ceremony of the building at Shiv Chanderpaul Drive, Georgetown.

The diplomat, who helped to craft Guyana’s Constitution, noted that the border case will settle Venezuela’s “baseless” claim over two-thirds of Guyana’s territory.

“It is my plea to all fellow Guyanese that between now and then, we do nothing to impair that destiny,” Sir Shridath noted.

According to Sir Shridath, the Foreign Ministry is standing at the forefront of the fight for the country’s sovereignty, but what is said at the ICJ will be addressed to the world.

Sir Shridath credited the process of arriving at the ICJ to former and current Governments.

“…that we will be in The Hague next month is to the credit to all of our government, the eyes and the ears of the global community will be upon us,” he added.

Guyana in March 2018 submitted its Application to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) requesting the Court to confirm the legal validity and binding effect of the 1899 Arbitral Award regarding the boundary between Guyana and Venezuela.

However, Venezuela refused to participate in the procedure and opted to instead challenge the court’s authority to settle the decade-old controversy –the case which comes up for hearing in March.

Present at this morning’s event was the Venezuelan Ambassador to Guyana, Luis Edgardo Diaz Monclus.

The event was also addressed by the current Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Karen Cummings who lauded all those coming before her: Rashleigh Jackson, Rudy Collins, Cedric Joseph, Dr Barton Scotland, Justice Duke Pollard and Clement Rohee, for continuing the fight for territorial integrity.

Sir Shridath cutting the ribbon to the Protocol Building – Ramphal House

While Dr Cummings acknowledged that she is the second female to head the Ministry, she did not name immediate former Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett.

She revealed that the building was first dedicated to Sir Shridath Ramphal in 1982 with then President LFS Burnham.

The current Government has since rehabilitated the building which and rebuilt it from a wooden to a concrete structure at a cost of approximately $317M.

Sir Shridath Ramphal on Thursday also handed over one of the first copies of the Guyana Constitution which he helped to craft to Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Karen Cummings. President Granger looks on

The re-dedication was done as part of Guyana’s 50th Republic celebration. President David Granger in his remarks praised Sir Shridath as “Guyana’s most distinguished statesman.”

He spoke of the importance of the Foreign Ministry to not only foster good relations but represent citizens in the diaspora.

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