Wed | Dec 6, 2023

Commonwealth condemns Venezuela’s latest position on border dispute with Guyana

Published:Tuesday | September 26, 2023 | 12:05 AM
Luis Almagro
Luis Almagro


The General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) says it objects to Venezuela’s encroachment on Guyana’s “sovereignty and territorial rights through intimidatory” and called on Caracas to await the ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the border dispute between the two countries.

In a statement, the general secretariat supported an earlier statement issued by OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro, who criticised Venezuela’s position regarding Guyana’s ongoing oil auction.

The statement on Saturday noted that on September 21, Venezuela’s “National Assembly” unanimously agreed to call a National Public Consultation “so that the people strengthen the defense” and “the inalienable rights of Venezuela” over the territorial dispute with Guyana.

“We condemn this improper use of a referendum because it is illegal according to the 1966 Geneva Agreement and because similar misuses of this instrument have served as a pretext in the recent past to try to justify the worst actions between states, including the crime of aggression.

”The General Secretariat of the OAS reiterates that Venezuela and Guyana share the responsibility of resolving their dispute in the spirit of good neighbourliness and in accordance with international law and the Geneva Agreement to seek peaceful solutions to the territorial dispute.

”Furthermore, the OAS General Secretariat continues to support the Co-operative Republic of Guyana’s sovereign right to practise its franchise on its established and appurtenant maritime area in accordance with international law and the principles of the United Nations.”

Earlier this month, the Irfaan Ali administration announced that it had received bids for eight of the country’s oil blocks, which are located offshore Guyana.

But in a statement, the Nicolas Maduro government rejected the auction, saying “the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela strongly rejects the illegal bidding round for oil blocks currently carried out by the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana (Blocks for tender for 2022 – Guyana Licensing Round) since it intends to have maritime areas pending delimitation between the two countries”.

In its statement, Caracas also also noted that any arbitrary concession granted would be “unacceptable” and that “these actions do not generate any type of rights to third parties who participate in such a process”.

But the OAS General Secretariat said it “objects to Venezuela’s encroachment on Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial rights through intimidatory and unfounded statements that fail to respect international conventions and the 1899 Arbitral Award, for which the latter is presently under judicial review at the International Court of Justice”.

Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Ministerial Group on Guyana has also criticised the position on Venezuela.

The ministerial group convened a meeting in New York by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, KC, in accordance with a mandate given by the Commonwealth heads of government to monitor “developments in respect of the existing controversy between Guyana and Venezuela”.

The group, constituted in 1999 by the heads of government of the 56-member countries, is composed of Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, Canada, Guyana, Jamaica, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.

“At the meeting, chaired by Dr A. K. Abdul Momen, minister of foreign affairs of Bangladesh, the group welcomed the ruling by the International Court of Justice on the admissibility of Guyana’s case before it, seeking to settle the boundaries between Guyana and Venezuela.

“Further, the group reaffirmed its unwavering support for the judicial process under way before the International Court of Justice and reiterated its firm and steadfast support for the maintenance and preservation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Guyana and the unobstructed exercise of its rights to develop the entirety of its territory for the benefit of its people,” it added.

Both Guyana and Venezuela have taken their border dispute to the International Court of Justice, with Georgetown seeking a final and binding judgement that the 1899 Arbitral Award, which established the location of the land boundary between then British Guiana and Venezuela, remains valid and that the Essequibo region belongs to Guyana and not Venezuela.