Guyana holding steadfast to int’l law, not violence or threats, on border controversy- OAS Head hears


Guyana is not resorting to violence or threats but instead, the country is holding steadfast to international law for the resolution of the border controversy with Venezuela.

This is according to President Dr. Irfaan Ali, who engaged Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS) Luis Almagro on Tuesday in New York. President Ali is visiting the US to attend the United Nations 76th General Assembly.

According to a release from the Office of the President, President Ali and a high-level team met with a team from the OAS at the Office of the Permanent Mission to Guyana in New York.

According to the release, during that meeting, a number of matters were highlighted by the Guyanese officials. Among them was the strengthening of democracy in Guyana through electoral reform, support for Guyana’s position on the border controversy with Venezuela and Guyana’s position following the Venezuelan Government-Opposition accord made earlier this month.

Of particular importance was the developments in Venezuela. Recently, Venezuela’s government and the opposition rejected the December ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that it has the authority to rule on the border controversy case brought by 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.

Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS) Luis Almagro and his team along with President Irfaan Ali and his team during the meeting (Photo: Office of the President/September 21, 2021)

And instead of engaging the ICJ, the two Venezuela parties are urging Guyana to engage in direct negotiations with Venezuela instead. For context, this agreement was met after Venezuela has been facing a political crisis with both President Nicolas Maduro and Opposition Leader Juan Guaido claiming to be the legitimate leader of the country.

On the settlement of Venezuela’s internal political differences, the release noted that President Ali reaffirmed that while his government welcomes efforts to bring about domestic harmony within Venezuela, agreements that defy international law and processes can form no basis for mediating such harmony.

“He said that Guyana does not promote the use of violence or threats to settle disputes, but will look towards the court and the rule of law,” the release highlighted.

In a 1966 Agreement signed in Geneva, both countries consented to the UN Secretary-General deciding on a means of settlement of the controversy if the countries could not settle the matter on their own.

Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo (left) and Foreign Secretary, Robert Persaud (right) with Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS) Luis Almagro (Photo: Office of the President/September 21, 2021)

In January 2018, UN Secretary-General António Guterres decided that the ICJ would settle the matter.  Since that decision could have only been overturned by a joint agreement by both countries, the ICJ was established as the governing body for the matter and both parties were bound by the Court’s jurisdiction and ultimate decision.

In addition to addressing the border controversy and the latest developments in Venezuela, the Head of State and the Secretary-General also discussed technical support to advance the country’s development agenda.

President Ali was joined by Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo; Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, and Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud.

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