The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has issued a strong statement in response to the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) ruling on December 1, 2023, concerning the territorial controversy between Venezuela and Guyana over the Essequibo Region.
In its statement, CARICOM highlighted the ICJ’s directive: “the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela shall refrain from taking any action which would modify the situation that currently prevails in the territory in dispute, whereby the Cooperative Republic of Guyana administers and exercises control over that area.”
The ICJ has ordered Venezuela to refrain from any actions that could challenge Guyana’s longstanding control of the region, which constitutes a significant part of its territory. This order was unanimously adopted by all the sitting Judges of the ICJ.
CARICOM, in its response, emphasized that Venezuela’s scheduled referendum to annex the Essequibo Region is in direct violation of the ICJ’s order and international law. The organization reminded that the fundamental principle of international law, as enshrined in the United Nations and Organization of American States Charters, obliges every state to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of others. According to CARICOM, the Court’s order clarifies that a national referendum cannot override this international duty. CARICOM thereby called on Venezuela to comply with the ICJ’s ruling.
The statement from CARICOM also insists on Venezuela’s adherence to the legal process established under the 1966 Geneva Agreement, as recognized by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. CARICOM demands that Venezuela pursue its territorial claims lawfully and within the framework of international law. Moreover, CARICOM urged respect for the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace.