The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Thursday struck down Venezuela’s preliminary objection against the admissibility of Guyana’s case before the Court. The ruling removes a roadblock Venezuela intended to set up to prevent a final settlement of the century-long controversy.
The decision was read by Judge Joan E. Donoghue, President of the Court.
While Guyana had contended that Venezuela’s preliminary objection is not admissible, due to its late filing, Judge Donoghue disagreed. She said the Court considered Venezuela well within its right to file the objection. Therefore, the Court ruled that the objection is admissible.
Consequently, the Court moved to examine the objection itself. Key to the decision handed down by the Court, in this regard, is that there is not a role for the United Kingdom in the means of settlement of the controversy. This was the main claim made by Venezuela in its preliminary objection. It had argued that the United Kingdom should be a party to the case since it was party to the Arbitral Award of 3 October 1899 when the territory was determined to belong to Guyana, then British Guiana.
By 14 to 1, the Court rejected the preliminary objection raised by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the admissibility of the substantive case raised by Guyana.
The effect of the ruling is that it allows the substantive case to progress. The Court can now adjudicate on the merits of the claims brought by Guyana, with only Venezuela and Guyana as parties. However, the hearing of the preliminary objection served to delay the examination of the matter, as Guyana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in June last year.