UN Secretary-General reminds defiant Venezuela that World Court orders are binding


The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, António Guterres, has reminded Venezuela that decisions of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) are binding and he is urging both Guyana and its Spanish-speaking neighbour to comply with the orders from the court.

And he has officially briefed the UN Security Council on the matter. Guyana secured a seat on the Security Council and will serve as a non-permanent member on the international peace and security body for the 2024 to 2025 term.

Guterres’ comments follow the recent illegal actions taken by the Nicolas Maduro government over Guyana’s Essequibo region following its sham December 3 referendum in which it claimed victory.

“I can tell you the Secretary-General strongly supports the use of solely peaceful means to settle international disputes. He further recalls that pursuant to the charter and to the status of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) decisions of the court are binding and he trusts that both states will duly comply with the order from the court,” Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General told the foreign media on Wednesday.

The ICJ, which is presiding over the substantive border case, ruled last Friday that Venezuela shall refrain from seeking to seize control of the Essequibo.

The boundary between Guyana and Venezuela was determined by an arbitration tribunal 124 years ago, but Venezuela rejected the award in 1962, saying it was flawed. A mechanism was set up to solve the controversy and after decades of talks failed, the United Nations Secretary General referred the matter to the ICJ, which is the UN’s principal judicial organ.

The court has determined it can hear and decide on the case, but Venezuela put forward the symbolic referendum before the Court can rule.

Guyana sought protection and that’s where the Court ruled Friday that the Essequibo has been recognised as Guyanese territory and has been governed by Guyana since the 1899 award and Venezuela should refrain from interrupting Guyanese sovereignty of the territory.

“The Secretary General notes that the Court’s unanimous decision towards Venezuela to ‘refrain from taking any action that would modify the situation that currently prevails in the territory in dispute.’

“The Secretary General also notes the court’s order to both parties to refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute or make it difficult to resolve in accordance with the statute of the Court.

“The Secretary General transmitted the notice of the provisional measures ordered by the Court to the Security Council,” Dujarric said.

Maduro revealed on Tuesday a redrawn of his country’s map so that it now includes the Essequibo region.

He also ordered the creation of new entities to grant licences for oil, gas and mines exploration in the Essequibo region; he proposed the creation of a new law to establish new environmentally protected areas that could be centres for tourism and biodiversity.

In response, President Ali said Guyana views this as an “imminent threat” to territorial integrity, noting that none of these actions will be accepted by the international community and assured Guyanese that the government will do all it can to protect the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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