Avoid actions that would extend Guyana/Venezuela territorial controversy, UN Secretary General says

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The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, is closely observing the escalating tension between Guyana and Venezuela regarding their border controversy. Stéphane Dujarric, the spokesperson for the Secretary-General, expressed in a recent statement that the Secretary-General is concerned about the increasing tension between the two countries. He urges both Guyana and Venezuela to show good faith and refrain from any actions that could exacerbate or extend the controversy.

The spokesperson reminded that, “In January 2018, after carefully analyzing developments in the good offices process that had taken place over the preceding years, the Secretary-General, in the exercise of the power and responsibility conferred on him by the 1966 Geneva Agreement, chose the International Court of Justice as the means that was next to be used for the solution of the border controversy between the two countries.” 

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The controversy is currently before the ICJ. The Secretary-General does not comment on matters that are part of ongoing judicial proceedings, Dujarric said.

This development comes amidst Venezuela’s continued assertion, under the Nicolas Maduro regime, that the ICJ does not hold jurisdiction over the territorial controversy with Guyana. Despite this claim, Venezuela is set to participate in the ICJ hearings scheduled for the next week. The hearings are purposed to discuss a controversial referendum proposed by the regime, slated for December 3, which includes questions about establishing a new Venezuelan state in Guyana’s Essequibo region.

Guyana, on October 30, made an official request to the ICJ for provisional measures to prevent Venezuela from proceeding with the referendum. Initially, the ICJ scheduled November 14 for hearings on these measures. However, a recent update from the court indicates that the schedule has been revised to facilitate Venezuela’s oral argument on November 15.

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On November 7, Maduro posted on X (formerly Twitter), reasserting the country’s denial of the ICJ’s jurisdiction. Despite Maduro’s declaration that “Venezuela has never accepted the International Court of Justice…,” the revised schedule for the ICJ hearings stands as follows:

– Guyana will present its oral argument on Tuesday, November 14, 2023, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Venezuela will present its oral argument on Wednesday, November 15, 2023, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Guyana initially filed a case against Venezuela on March 29, 2018, requesting the Court to confirm “the legal validity and binding effect of the Award regarding the Boundary between the Colony of British Guiana and the United States of Venezuela, of October 3, 1899”. This case is ongoing. 

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