The Gleaner

ICJ to hand down ruling in border dispute Friday

THE INTERNATIONAL Court of Justice (ICJ) Tuesday said it would deliver, on Friday, its Order on Guyana’s request for ”the indication of provisional measures” aimed at preventing Venezuela from holding a referendum over the ownership of the mineral and forest-rich county of Essequibo.

In a statement, the ICJ said a public sitting will take place on Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. (local time) “during which Judge Joan E. Donoghue, president of the Court will read the Court’s Order”.

The ICJ had last week reserved its judgement to Guyana’s claim that it has evidence that Venezuela intends to gain ownership of the mineral and forest-rich county of Essequibo through a referendum on December 3.

Both Guyana and Venezuela made presentations to the ICJ during two days of hearing into the case relating to the 1899 Arbitral Award after Guyana, in its request, had said that the Venezuela government, through its National Electoral Council had published a list of five questions that it intends to put before the people of Venezuela in a “Consultative Referendum” next month.

Guyana applied to the ICJ in 2018 to have the 1899 Arbitral Award, which established the border between Venezuela and the then-British Guiana, confirmed as legally enforceable. The 1899 ruling was likewise cited in this application as a ‘full, perfect, and final settlement’ of all issues pertaining to drawing the borders between Venezuela and the British Guiana province.

During the ICJ sitting, Venezuela vowed to go ahead with its referendum as it seeks to gain ownership of the Essequibo in Guyana.

“The referendum is an internal domestic matter and is not meant in any way to result in the annexation of the disputed territory,” International Law Professor Makane Moïse Mbengue told the ICJ.

The 15-member CARICOM grouping, the London-based Commonwealth Secretariat and the Organization of American States have also rejected the referendum stating that international law strictly prohibits the government of one state from unilaterally seizing, annexing or incorporating the territory of another state and noted that the referendum will open the door to the possible violation of this fundamental tenet of international law.

Meanwhile, President Irfaan Ali has left Guyana to attend the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP) 28.

A brief statement from the Office of the President said that Ali will return home on Saturday December 2, one day before the controversial referendum is scheduled to be held.





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