Hearings concluded at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Tuesday, on Venezuela’s preliminary objections to the case concerning the Arbitral Award of 3 October 1899 (Guyana v. Venezuela) filed by Guyana.
Making closing remarks at the seat of the Court in the Netherlands, Guyana’s Agent, Carl Greenidge, affirmed Guyana’s faith and confidence in the United Nations’ chief judicial organ to independently and impartially adjudicate Guyana’s claims in accordance with international law.
“All previous efforts to resolve the controversy through mediation or negotiation… [they all] have failed…The only hope of a resolution of the controversy lies in a binding and final determination of Guyana’s claims by this Court,” Greenridge asserted.
He said that Venezuela’s arguments in support of its preliminary objections have been long on ‘allegations and rhetoric’ and ‘short on substance.’
The agent reiterated Guyana’s sure determination from the time Venezuela’s preliminary objections were filed, that they are meant to stall the court’s ruling on Guyana’s claims that the 1899 Award is valid and, consequently, that the Essequibo region belongs to Guyana.
“… Venezuela really does not want this Court to determine the merits of Guyana’s claims… one cannot escape the conclusion that it is a desire to continue perpetuating a falsehood, rather than a desire to expose and vindicate the truth, that underlies Venezuela’s hostility to the Court hearing Guyana’s claims,” he said.
As arguments have concluded, the Court will have to make a judgment on Venezuela’s preliminary objections and whether it should preside over the claims brought by Guyana in this case.
Guyana has asked the Court to uphold the 1899 Arbitral Award, as Venezuela doubts its validity. The Court has jurisdiction to hear the case, as it so ruled in December 2020. Guyana subsequently filed its memorial on the merits of its case against Venezuela in March 2022, keeping with an order of the Court.
The determination of the Court as it relates to Venezuela’s preliminary objections, is what stands in the way of the progression of the substantive case. It is for this reason that Guyana said the Bolivarian Republic is seeking to delay the conclusion of the case.
The Court said in a statement at the conclusion of the hearing that its decision on the preliminary objections will be delivered at a public sitting, the date of which will be announced in due course.
Should the Court validate Guyana’s arguments in this hearing, the Co-operative Republic has asked the Court to fix a date for submission of Venezuela’s counter-memorial on the merits, related to the substantive case, no later than nine months of its ruling on Venezuela’s preliminary objections.