Gov’t welcomes ICJ judgment on Guyana/ Venezuela border

-awaits date for substantial case

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“It is a great victory to the people of Guyana,” President Irfaan Ali said on Friday as he welcomed the judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which has decided it has jurisdiction to hear the Guyana/Venezuela border controversy case.

The judgment was read by President of the ICJ, Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf at the Peace Palace in The Hague; Guyana was represented by its Ambassador Plenipotentiary and Extraordinary to the Kingdom of Belgium, David Hales and representative in Brussels, Lloyd Gunraj.

President Ali, high-ranking members of his cabinet, former Foreign Minister, Carl Greenidge; Ambassador Audrey Waddle and other members of the legal team, along with Chief-of-staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Brigadier Godfrey Bess; Police Commissioner, Nigel Hoppie and others viewed the judgment in the dome of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre.

Upon conclusion of the judgment, Dr Ali telephoned Sir Shridath Ramphal, who led Guyana’s argument before the court on June 30, to convey his congratulatory message.

In a short statement which followed, the President said the judgment is testimony to what Guyanese can achieve if they are united.

President Irfaan Ali speaks with former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge (Photo: Office of the President/December 18, 2020)

“We’ve always stood together, we’ve always recognised together and demonstrated to the international community together that we are one and we are united…but today, I think this victory is testimony to what we can achieve as a people when united and this should be a healing point for our country,” the President said.

The Head-of-State, however, pointed out that the ruling is also a “great victory for the rule of law internationally and for the United Nations,” which referred the controversy to the ICJ for a full and final settlement.

Dr Ali thanked the legal team and all who worked along with them to be able to present winning arguments before the ICJ. Guyana now awaits a date for case management for the substantial case.

Greenidge, who filed the matter in the ICJ in 2018, said: “We are pleased to see this case brought to a forum, accepted by a forum which can ensure the definitive resolution of the controversy which has bedevilled our country and its neighbour since 1962.

“The issue has been characterised by the endless and determinable repetition of processes and arguments and in the background, whilst these interminable exchanges have taken place, Guyana has lost territory, investments and the opportunity to improve the wellbeing of its people.”

Greenidge said the team awaits an invitation by the court to examine the substantive issues in the case.  During an interview with the media subsequently, the former Foreign Minister noted that the case can run on for six to nine years, but with Venezuela’s insistence on not participating in the matter, this time can be lessened.

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge (Photo: Office of the President/December 18, 2020)

Judge Yusuf said the court concluded that it has jurisdiction to hear Guyana’s claims concerning the validity of the 1899 Award and related questions of the definitive settlement of the land boundary dispute.

He, however, noted that the court’s jurisdiction is limited as it cannot entertain Guyana’s complaints on events that occurred after the signature of the Geneva Agreement.

But Greenidge said this decision has no bearing on the case. Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd expressed confidence that Guyana will emerge the winner in the substantive case.

“We believe that will see the end of this process and Guyana will become victorious so we can move on peacefully in being able to exploit our resources and to enjoy stability not only here in Guyana but within the Region,” Todd noted.

Going forward, he said: “This is a small victory, we still have to present the merits of the case, we still have some ways to go –so we want the people of Guyana to understand that we need their support as well.”

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