Guyana reaffirms right to develop resources, urges Venezuela to respect Geneva Agreement

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Guyana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Friday that the development of its resources is lawful, referring to ongoing oil production operations offshore. The Guyana government urged Venezuela, a country it says has “imperial ambition”, to return to the judicial processes of the Geneva Agreement.  

The Guyana government commemorated February 17 as the 57th anniversary of the signing of the Geneva Agreement; and said Venezuela should, on this anniversary, demonstrate full compliance with the Agreement.

“Concluded on the eve of our country’s Independence between the United Kingdom, Venezuela and British Guiana, [the Geneva Agreement] governs the resolution of the controversy which had arisen as a result of Venezuela’s baseless and ill-chosen contention that the Arbitral Award of 1899 is ‘null and void’,” a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. 

The Arbitral Award is what granted the Essequibo region to the then British Guiana.

The government noted Article IV paragraph 2 of the Geneva Agreement, pursuant to which the Secretary General of the United Nations has chosen the International Court of Justice as the means for final and binding settlement of the controversy surrounding Venezuela’s claim for Guyana’s Essequibo region.

Guyana said Venezuela has tried for many years to undermine the Geneva Agreement and frustrate the resolution of the controversy by judicial process. The matter of the settlement of the controversy is currently before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). For some while, Venezuela had refused to accept the jurisdiction of the Court to adjudicate in this regard. Eventually, the Court had to hand down a decision which showed that it has jurisdiction to handle the case. Venezuela has since participated in proceedings, by making preliminary objections to the admissibility of the ongoing border controversy case. Guyana said the objections are legally unsupportable.

In arguments made before the Court, Venezuela criticised Guyana’s extraction and commercialisation of its offshore petroleum resources, among other things. The Guyana Ministry noted Friday that the Geneva Agreement imposes no obligation on Guyana to refrain from economic development activities in any portion of its territory, or any appurtenant maritime areas.

It added that any unilateral attempt by Venezuela to restrict the exercise by Guyana of its sovereignty and sovereign rights will be wholly inconsistent with the Geneva Agreement and the rule of international law.

ExxonMobil has discovered 11 billion oil-equivalent barrels offshore Guyana, and currently produces about 380,000 barrels of crude per day.

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