Commonwealth backs Guyana in territorial controversy with Venezuela after recent threats

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In a significant show of solidarity, the Commonwealth Ministerial Group on Guyana met in New York on September 17, 2023, to address the ongoing territorial dispute between Guyana and Venezuela. Convened by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland KC, the meeting reaffirmed the group’s commitment to monitoring developments related to the controversy. 

The group, comprising Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, Canada, Guyana, Jamaica, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, welcomed the recent ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the admissibility of Guyana’s case seeking to settle its boundaries with Venezuela. 

Chaired by Dr A. K. Abdul Momen, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, the gathering expressed unwavering support for the ICJ’s judicial process. It reiterated its firm dedication to safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Guyana and ensuring the unimpeded development of its territory for the benefit of its people.

The controversy centers on Venezuela’s claim to a substantial portion of Guyana’s territory, including its oil resources. In response to Guyana’s recent bid round announcement, the Venezuelan government issued a communique, leading its President, Dr. Irfaan Ali, to assert the country’s sovereign rights to conduct economic activities within its territory and express confidence in the ICJ’s resolution. This move prompted a subsequent statement from the Venezuelan government, raising concerns about the region’s peace.

Notably, Guyana’s Parliamentary Opposition has joined the government in rejecting the threat to its territorial integrity. Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, emphasized Guyana’s determination to proceed with its oil block auction process, asserting, “This is our sovereign Guyanese territory.”

Furthermore, CARICOM, the Organisation of American States (OAS), and the United States have all publicly voiced their support for Guyana in this long-standing dispute. The Commonwealth Ministerial Group’s recent meeting reinforces Guyana’s position on the international stage as it seeks a peaceful and just resolution to the territorial matter.

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