ICJ set to deliver judgement on question of jurisdiction in Guyana, Venezuela border case

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The International Court of Justice (ICJ) announced on Thursday it will deliver its Judgment on the question of its jurisdiction in the case concerning the Guyana v. Venezuela Arbitral Award of October 3, 1899, on Friday, December 18, 2020.

The ICJ said a public sitting of the Court will take place at 3 p.m. at the Peace Palace in The Hague, during which the President of the Court, Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, will read out the Court’s decision.

“In view of the current COVID-19 pandemic, only Members of the Court and representatives of the Parties will be present in the Great Hall of Justice,” the ICJ said. “Members of the diplomatic corps, the media and public will be able to follow the reading through a live webcast on the Court’s website, as well as on UN Web TV.”

In his inaugural address to the United Nations General Assembly in September, Guyana’s President, Dr. Irfaan Ali, affirmed the South American nation’s confidence in the ICJ as the country remains engaged in the border controversy case with Venezuela.

“Guyana reposes confidence in this institution. We are committed to the rule of international law inclusive of the peaceful resolution of disputes,” he said.

Guyana and its Spanish-speaking neighbour to the west have long been involved in a controversy as it relates to their territorial boundaries. Although the matter was settled by the 1899 Arbitral Award which both Venezuela and Great Britain accepted at the time as a final settlement of the border dispute, in 1962 Venezuela began new arguments declaring that the 1899 arbitral award was “null and void”.

These claims continued in earnest through the ensuing decades and tensions escalated in 2015 following the announcement by ExxonMobil of its world class oil discovery at the Stabroek Block, offshore Guyana. To date, approximately 9 billion barrels of oil equivalent resources have been discovered in the area.

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