Commonwealth Group stands with Guyana, calls on Venezuela to respect border status quo

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The Commonwealth Ministerial Group on Guyana (CMGG), which held an emergency meeting on December 11, has reaffirmed its support for Guyana in the territorial controversy with Venezuela. The meeting, convened by Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland KC, was in response to a request from the Guyana government.

The CMGG, chaired by Shahriar Alam, State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, heard an update from Guyana, presented by Rajendra Singh, High Commissioner of Guyana. The update highlighted the heightened tensions since the last CMGG meeting in September 2023.

Emphasizing the need for adherence to international law, the Group urged respect for the International Court of Justice (ICJ)’s measures dated December 1, 2023. The ICJ mandates Venezuela to refrain from altering the status quo in the disputed territory and calls for both nations to avoid actions that could exacerbate the dispute.

The CMGG strongly rejected recent actions by Venezuela, viewing them as threats to Guyana’s sovereignty and a disregard of the ICJ’s order. They called for a de-escalation of tensions, the maintenance of peace, and the rejection of any use or threat of force against Guyana’s territorial integrity or political independence.

Reaffirming their support for the ICJ process as the lawful means to resolve the dispute, the Group underscored the importance of maintaining Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as its right to self-defence and to develop its territory for the benefit of its people.

The Group’s stance has been consistent since its formation in 1999, as reiterated in its 2016 statement, which emphasized the support of Commonwealth member governments for the preservation of Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial borders in accordance with the 1899 Arbitral Award, which settled the border over a hundred years ago.

Endorsing the Scotland’s recent statements in support of Guyana, the CMGG commended her efforts to engage international partners in support of peace and stability in the Caribbean. The Group encouraged the continuation of these efforts to support Guyana in upholding its territorial sovereignty and integrity.

The CMGG agreed to communicate the outcomes of this meeting to all Commonwealth member governments. Members of the CMGG include Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, Canada, Guyana, Jamaica, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, as constituted following the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Durban in 1999. These countries have also expressed support for Guyana recently.

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