Canada has backed Guyana’s stance for there to be a legal, binding settlement to Venezuela’s claim of Guyana’s territory, saying that the recent decree of Nicholas Maduro is concerning.
“Venezuela’s recent claim that it has sovereignty over the area adjacent to Guyana’s Essequibo coast is concerning.
“The decision is in the hands of the International Court of Justice and this judicial process must be respected,” the Canadian High Commission stated on its Facebook page.
The U.S. government also supports Guyana and has denounced Maduro’s claim.
President Irfaan Ali in an address to the nation on Saturday rejected in its entirety the latest decree issued by Maduro in which he laid fresh claims to the water and seabed adjacent to Guyana’s coast, west of the Essequibo River.
The Officer-in-charge of the Venezuelan Embassy in Georgetown was summoned to Takuba Lodge on Monday by Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd to express Guyana deep concern.
The President said Maduro has clearly violated the principles of international law by unilaterally declaring the sea adjacent to Guyana’s Essequibo to belong to Venezuela.
“Regrettably, by decreeing that the seas adjacent to this territory belong to Venezuela, at least two fundamental principles of international law have been violated. The first violation is that no State can unilaterally determine its international boundaries, whether they are land boundaries or maritime boundaries.
“The fixing of an international boundary under international law can only result from an agreement between neighbouring States, or a binding determination by an international court or arbitral tribunal. Therefore, this attempt by Venezuela to attempt, unilaterally, to fix both its land and maritime boundaries with Guyana is a legal nullity, which cannot, and will not, be respected by any other State in the world, including Guyana.”
President Ali insisted on the validity and binding effect of the 1899 Arbitral Award which determined the boundaries between the two countries and said he is confident that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) will uphold that.
In a recent judgement, the International Court of Justice ruled 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.
The court decided that the referral of the matter to the ICJ by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on January 30, 2018, was legal as is contemplated in the agreement.
The Court’s President said now that the ICJ has claimed jurisdiction, Venezuela will be able, if it so wishes, to appear before the court to present its arguments.
According to the judgment, the 1899 Award states that both Guyana and Venezuela consented to the means of a judicial settlement. The full text of the judgment will be available on the ICJ’s website shortly.
Venezuela is maintaining a claim to 70% of Guyana’s territory, arguing that the 1899 agreement, which determined the boundaries between the two countries, is null and void.