Guyana keen on ‘good neighbourly relations’ but steadfast in legal settlement of border controversy


Guyana will continue to cooperate with its neighbours and its regional and global partners but the country remains steadfast in its pursuits of a legal and binding settlement of the longstanding border controversy with Venezuela.

This was the assertion of President Dr. Irfaan Ali, as he ushered in Guyana’s 56th Independence Anniversary on Wednesday night at Damon’s Square in Anna Regina.

The Guyanese Head of State, in an impassioned address intended to appeal to citizens’ patriotism, called on all Guyanese to to remain united, particularly on the matter of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“On these issues, Guyanese must broker no division.

“We must continue to stand united in defending our motherland from external threats,” the President said.

President Dr. Irfaan Ali delivering his Independence day address at Damon’s Square, Anna Regina on the eve of Guyana’s 56th independence anniversary (Photo: Keno George/ DPI/ May 25, 2022)

But as he highlighted the country’s commitment to “good neighbourly relations” with others, be it continental neighbours, sister states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) or global partners, the President said the country will not sway in its pursuits of maintaining territorial integrity.

“We do not intend to deviate from the judicial path which has been taken to address the controversy with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela,” President Ali said pointedly.

Venezuela’s claim to some 70 per cent of Guyana’s land- the Essequibo region – including prolific offshore oil resources, has been a longstanding threat. The spanish-speaking country has argued that the 1899 agreement, which determined the boundaries between the two countries, is null and void.

Guyana has repeatedly rejected these claims and after years of bilateral talks which sought a peaceful resolution to the controversy, Guyana’s case is now squarely before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

President Dr. Irfaan Ali inspecting the guard of honour at the 56th Independence Anniversary celebrations hosted at Damon’s Square, Anna Regina (Photo: Priya Manickchand/ Facebook/ May 25, 2022)

And as hundreds of citizens gathered at Damon Square to usher in Guyana’s 56th independence anniversary, President Ali reiterated that there will be no straying from that legal process.

In March, Guyana submitted its Memorial on the Merits of its case against Venezuela to the ICJ in the Hague.

The case currently before the ICJ was instituted on March 29, 2018, by Guyana against Venezuela; Guyana is asking the ICJ to pronounce on the legal validity and binding effect of the 1899 Arbitral Award which determined the boundaries between the two countries.

A December 2020 judgment handed down by the ICJ ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear the Guyana/Venezuela controversy case. Venezuela has, however, refused to participate in the legal proceedings and instead, called for the return to bilateral talks.

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