Guyana celebrates 1899 Arbitral Award that established boundary with Venezuela

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See below full release from the Government of Guyana:

In 1897, Venezuela and Great Britain concluded an agreement- the Treaty of Washington-by which they agreed to submit the dispute regarding the location of their land boundary to binding arbitration before a tribunal of eminent jurists including the heads of the judiciary of the United States and Great Britain. The parties – Britain and Venezuela – agreed in that Treaty to accept the Tribunal’s Award as ‘a full, perfect and final settlement’ of the boundary issue between the parties. That ‘settlement’ is exactly 124 years old today October 3, and Guyana still accepts and celebrates the Arbitral Award as stipulated by the Treaty.

On 3 October 1899, the Arbitral Tribunal delivered its Award, which determined the boundary between Venezuela and British Guiana (“the 1899 Award”). The 1899 Award was the culmination of arbitral proceedings during which the respective territorial claims of Great Britain and Venezuela were addressed at great length and in detail by distinguished legal counsel representing the two States, including through many thousands of pages of written submissions and more than 200 hours of oral hearings before the Arbitral Tribunal.

For more than six decades after the 1899 Award was delivered, Venezuela treated the Award as a final settlement of the matter. It consistently recognised, affirmed and relied upon the 1899 Award as “a full, perfect, and final” determination of the boundary with British Guiana.

Between 1900 and 1905, Venezuela participated in a joint demarcation of the boundary, in strict adherence to the letter of the 1899 Award, and emphatically refused to countenance even minor technical modifications of the boundary line described in the Award.

Venezuela proceeded to formally ratify the demarcated boundary in its domestic law and thereafter published official maps, which depicted the boundary following the line described in the 1899 Award. However, in 1962 as British Guiana was approaching its independence from Great Britain, Venezuela recognized that it would become neighbour with a nascent State and by virtue of its expansionist ambition, Venezuela abandoned the rule of law and good faith and laid claims to the Essequibo territory.

As Guyana commemorates the anniversary of the Arbitral Award of 3 October, 1899, we continue to adhere to and embrace the rules of international law and respect our pacta sunt servanda obligation.

Guyana instituted proceedings against Venezuela by Application to the International Court of Justice on 29 March 2018 asking the Court to resolve the controversy that has arisen as a result of Venezuela’s contention, formally asserted for the first time in 1962, that the 1899 Arbitral Award Regarding the Boundary between the Colony of British Guiana and the United States of Venezuela is “null and void”.

The Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana remains firmly of the view that the Arbitral Award of 1899 is valid. Guyana is committed to a path of final and peaceful settlement and will continue to adhere to the rule of International Law and the procedures of the International Court of Justice. It is for honour that we call today as we celebrate on this anniversary date that Arbitral Award of Paris of 3rd October 1899 in continued respect for the sanctity of Treaties and the rule of law.

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1 Comment
  1. Stephen Monohar Kangal says

    It is an act of astute state policy and practice that Guyana celebrates the tenets and principles of international law and pacta sunt servanda in its bilateral relations with Venezuela and international law and order in particular whilst the border issue is before the adjudication of the ICJ. Guyana has exercised exclusive jurisdiction and control over its current land territory and its adjoining maritime space and this alone is grounds for the retention of its current jurisdiction because it was continuous and unbroken until 1962 when Venezuela awoke from its slumber to make this nightmarish claim to two thirds of Guyanese territory (The Essequibo Region) perhaps to achieve cohesiveness in Caracas .
    Caricom must rally around Guyana’s preservation of its borders after displaying all the acts and attributes of sovereignty that is one of the grounds for its territorial enjoyment of its 83,000 square miles in addition to the formal 1899 Award that established its current borders with Venezuela.
    Let the people gather in Georgetown to assert its dominion and ownership of its land and sea territory and honour the 1899 Award as final and binding and pacta sunt servanda in its relations with an expansionist Venezuela bent on disrupting Guyana ‘s right to development of its resources for the the benefit of its peoples and not to be deprived by aggression and lawlessness of this universal right as a state in international law and member of the UN Security Council.

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