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Guyana welcomes ICJ decision to hear Guyana/Venezuela border dispute

Published:Saturday | December 19, 2020 | 10:45 AMCMC
Guyana's President Irfaan Ali (CMC/ file).

(CMC)- Guyana's President Irfaan Ali on Friday welcomed a ruling handed down by The Hague- based International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Netherlands, which has ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear an ongoing border dispute between Guyana and Venezuela.

The demarcation may ultimately determine which country has rights to offshore oil and gas fields.

“We have always stood together, we have always recognised together and demonstrated to the international community together that we are one and united not only on our sovereignty and borders. Today, this victory is no small victory. This victory is testimony to what we can achieve when we are united," Ali said.

He said Guyana’s territorial integrity and sovereignty cannot be compromised.

The president, who praised Guyana’s legal team and the technical officers at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their work on the matter, said that he is convinced that Guyana will get a final judgement in its favour, reinforcing the 1899 Arbitral award.

“The court’s decision means that international law can be brought to bear to ensure that Guyana’s patrimony is preserved. The law of nations can be allowed to prevail in the face of efforts that point in other directions. As a result of today’s ruling, the court will now proceed to hear the merits of the case."

Ali said Guyana will remain united, as the case progresses before the International Court.

The matter was taken before the ICJ in 2018 under the David Granger administration.

On Friday, in a 12-4 decision, judges at the ICJ ruled that they have jurisdiction to hear a suit brought by Guyana, which is arguing that the border was established by an 1899 arbitration between Venezuela and what was then the colony of British Guiana.

Venezuela’s government had argued that the international court had no jurisdiction and it prefers direct talks with Guyana over its claims to a huge, sparsely populated area west of the Essequibo River.

The court has not yet set a date for arguments on the merits of Guyana’s case.

The ICJ is the United Nations’ court for resolving disputes between states.

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