April 6 set for World Court ruling on Venezuela’s preliminary objections in border case with Guyana

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The International Court of Justice (ICJ) said it will make a key ruling in the border case between Guyana and Venezuela: Arbitral Award of 3 October 1899 (Guyana v. Venezuela). The judgment is not related to the conclusion of the case, but to whether preliminary objections filed by Venezuela to the admissibility of the case before the Court. 

Venezuela had refused to participate in the case up until filing the preliminary objections last year.

Venezuela argued that the United Kingdom (UK) should be a party to the case since it was party to the Arbitral Award of 3rd October 1899 when the territory was “given” to Guyana, and asked the World Court to dismiss the substantive case.

Guyana told the World Court that the preliminary objections raised by Venezuela appear to be a device intended to derail and delay the Court’s determination of the merits of Guyana’s claims.

A public sitting will take place at 3 p.m. at the Peace Palace in the Hague, during which Judge Joan E. Donoghue, President of the Court will read out the Court’s Decision. 

This case is critical for Guyana as it seeks to protect its territorial integrity from Venezuela’s overtures. Venezuela has interfered with oil operations offshore Guyana before, and so, operations in recent years have generally been restricted to the eastern side of the Guyana basin. 

Guyana expects, in the end, a final judgment 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 its Spanish-speaking neighbour.


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