Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Wednesday reiterated the United States’ call for a peaceful resolution to the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy and for all parties to respect the 1899 arbitral award determining the land boundary between the two countries. He said this must prevail “unless, or until, the parties reach a new agreement, or a competent legal body decides otherwise.”
Blinken spoke with Guyanese President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali to reaffirm the United States’ unwavering support for Guyana’s sovereignty following moves by Venezuelan President, Nicolás Maduro, that threaten to violate the existing land boundary.
“Secretary Blinken and President Ali noted the International Court of Justice order issued on December 1, which called for parties to refrain from any action that might aggravate or extend the dispute,” a statement published by Blinken’s office pointed out.
The ICJ’s ruling made it clear that Venezuela must refrain from actions that would compromise Guyana’s administration and control of the Essequibo territory.
In blatant disregard for the ICJ ruling, Maduro on Tuesday unveiled a revised map of his nation, incorporating the Essequibo region. Alongside this, he issued directives for the formation of fresh administrative bodies responsible for issuing licenses for oil, gas, and mineral exploration in the Essequibo area. Furthermore, he put forth a proposal for enacting legislation aimed at establishing designated environmentally protected zones, potentially serving as hubs for tourism and preserving biodiversity.
Guyana has since updated the United Nations Security Council on this egregious act by the Maduro regime. UN Secretary General, António Guterres said pursuant to the Charter and to the status of the ICJ, “decisions of the Court are binding” and trust that both states will comply with the orders of the Court.
In the call with Ali, Blinken reiterated that the United States looks forward to working closely with Guyana once it assumes its non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in January 2024. The two leaders concluded the call by agreeing upon the importance of maintaining a peaceful and democratic Western Hemisphere.
The 1899 Award was accepted by both Guyana and Venezuela for nearly sixty-three years. The two sides acted upon the Award when they established a Mixed British/Venezuelan Boundary Commission to demarcate the boundary. This demarcation was completed, and a joint report and map of the boundary were signed by both the British and Venezuelan Boundary Commissioners in 1905.
Some sixty-three years, after Venezuela had accepted the Award and sent its technical officials to help demarcate the boundary that the Tribunal laid down, Venezuela, suddenly, in 1962, claimed that the Award was null and void. Guyana, however, maintains that the Award is valid and has since asked the ICJ to reaffirm this. These proceedings are ongoing.