“Resorting to a judicial settlement to settle the dispute is unacceptable, sterile and inapplicable,” Venezuela’s foreign ministry warned in a statement after Guyana formally asked the ICJ to resolve the conflict.
Guyana raised the request before the ICJ on Thursday, after UN chief Antonio Guterres referred the more than century-old border dispute to the court in January.
Venezuela has been pressing a historic claim to Guyana’s Essequibo region, which encompasses two thirds of the former British colony, since US oil giant Exxon Mobil discovered oil in disputed waters off its coast in 2015.
The government of Nicolas Maduro said in the statement that it does not recognize the ICJ’s jurisdiction “as mandatory.” Venezuela instead proposed to rekindle diplomatic ties with Guyana “that will allow a practical and satisfactory solution of the territorial dispute to be reached.”
When it filed its position with the ICJ earlier this week, Guyana said it was requesting the court to confirm the legal validity and binding effect of the 1899 Arbitral Award regarding the boundary between the two countries.
In its application to the court, Guyana highlighted that Venezuela had, for more than 60 years, consistently recognised and respected the validity and binding force of the 1899 Award and the 1905 Map agreed by both sides in furtherance of the award.
“Venezuela had only changed its position formally in 1962 as the United Kingdom was making final preparations for the independence of British Guiana and had threatened not to recognise the new State, or its boundaries, unless the United Kingdom agreed to set aside the 1899 Award and cede to Venezuela all of the territory west of the Essequibo River, amounting to some two-thirds of Guyana's territory,” the statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Georgetown noted.
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