Venezuela fails to provide reasons why it thinks ICJ cannot hear border case with Guyana

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After asserting that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has no jurisdiction to hear the case involving its claim over Guyana’s territory, Venezuela today failed to make a submission in support of its argument.

The Guyana government said on Thursday that the Bolivarian Republic had up to April 18 to submit its written Memorial on Jurisdiction but failed to do so. Venezuela’s foreign minister said by way of a letter that the government had chosen not to make a submission to the ICJ.

Guyana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that last year, the Court determined that it would be appropriate to determine whether it has jurisdiction over the case before considering its merits. Pursuant to its Order, Guyana submitted its written Memorial on Jurisdiction – demonstrating that the Court has jurisdiction to decide on the validity of the Arbitral Award and the resulting boundary – on 19 November 2018.

“Although the ICJ fixed 18 April 2019 as the date for Venezuela to submit a Counter-Memorial on Jurisdiction  — in response to Guyana’s Memorial — Venezuela failed to make a submission on that date, and indicated in a letter from its Foreign Minister that it had chosen not do so,” the Ministry said.

In consequence, Guyana has decided to ask the Court to proceed directly to the holding of oral hearings, at the earliest possible date, to determine its jurisdiction over the case.

“Guyana is confident that the Court will agree that it has jurisdiction, and then proceed to decide on the merits of Guyana’s suit,” the foreign ministry stated.

Guyana submitted the case to the Court after the Secretary General of the United Nations determined, pursuant to his authority under the Geneva Agreement of 1966 – to which Guyana, Venezuela and the United Kingdom are Parties — that the dispute over the validity of the Arbitral Award, and the resulting boundary, must be decided by the Court. That constitutes a sufficient jurisdictional basis for the Court to proceed.

Guyana, the ministry said, regrets that Venezuela, notwithstanding its obligations under the Geneva Agreement and the Secretary General’s decision to refer the matter to the Court, has chosen not to participate in the case. “However, as the Court itself has made clear, the door remains open to Venezuela to join in the proceedings, which will continue to a final and legally-binding judgment, pursuant to the Court’s rules, whether Venezuela participates or not.”

The ministry said Guyana takes note of the Venezuelan Foreign Minister’s recent tweet that, at some point in the future, it will supply the Court with “information” about the case to assist it in the exercise of its judicial functions. “If this is a first step toward Venezuela’s full participation in the case, Guyana welcomes it. At the same time, Guyana has reserved its right to object to any submission by Venezuela that violates the Court’s rules or is otherwise prejudicial.”

The next step will be for the Court to schedule the dates for the oral hearing on jurisdiction. Guyana will inform the public as soon as these dates are set, foreign ministry said.


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