Border controversy to form part of President’s address to UN General Assembly

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President Dr Irfaan Ali will be making his first in-person presentation at the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) next Thursday, and the ongoing border controversy between Guyana and Venezuela is expected to be one of the focal points in his address, according to Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud.

Only recently, the Guyanese leader had cause to firmly reiterate that Guyana will not be used as a ‘sacrificial lamb’ in Venezuela’s internal politics.

The President was forced to restate the country’s claim to its sovereignty after an agreement was signed by the Heads of Delegation of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the Unity Platform of Venezuela in Mexico City on September 6, 2021. It is essentially Venezuela’s government and opposition uniting on the country’s claim to Guyana oil-rich Essequibo and is seen even by the government as an overt threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Guyana.

The controversy is that Venezuela is maintaining a claim to some 70 per cent of Guyana’s land- the Essequibo region including Guyana’s offshore oil reserves – the country is arguing that the 1899 agreement, which determined the boundaries between the two countries is null and void.

After other engagements failed, Guyana approached the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to seek a final, binding judgment on the 1899 Arbitral Award that determines that boundary between Guyana and Venezuela. Simply, Guyana is trying to get a final judgment that the Essequibo region does indeed belong to Guyana and not Venezuela.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Secretary told the News Room on Friday that during the high-level visit to the UN Headquarters in New York, the Head of State will also be engaging in bilaterals with a host of top officials including the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres and the Secretary-General of the Organisation of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro.

Persaud outlined too that President Ali will also be meeting with the President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Mauricio J. Claver-Carone along with the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen.

“… In addition to that, there are a number of other functions and activities that the President will be participating in based on the growing interest [that] the international community has in terms of what is taking place in Guyana, both economically and given our increasing role so this visit certainly will be a very important one,” the Foreign Secretary added.

“His participation will certainly lift the country’s profile and allow the country to advance its foreign policy agenda, the many facets of it.”

Since its inception, the UN General Assembly has been a forum for lofty declarations and rigorous debate over the world’s most vexing issues, from poverty and development to peace and security. This year’s session will commemorate the 76th anniversary of the UN’s founding.

Underpinning this year’s agenda is the theme “Building Resilience through hope to recover from COVID-19, rebuild sustainably, respond to the needs of the planet, respect the rights of people, and revitalise the United Nations.”

World leaders are expected to debate issues including the global response to the coronavirus pandemic and sustainable development.  Discussions on climate change, biodiversity, and nuclear disarmament are also on the agenda.

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