In a press release issued on Friday, the ICJ noted that given the current circumstances as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, “the hearings will take place in the Great Hall of Justice using videoconference technology and with the physical presence of some of the Members of the Court.
Guyana is seeking to have the court confirm the legal validity of the Award Regarding the Boundary between the Colony of British Guiana and the United States of Venezuela, of October 3, 1899, while Venezuela has maintained that the ICJ has no jurisdiction to hear the case.
Venezuela has claimed, in a letter to the Court, that the Secretary-General of the United Nations exceeded his authority under the Geneva Agreement, and that the Court, therefore, lacks jurisdiction to adjudicate Guyana’s lawsuit.
Venezuela has previously indicated that it will not participate in the proceedings.
The Court is expected to proceed to decide if it has jurisdiction over Guyana’s claims, irrespective of whether or not Venezuela participates in the proceedings.
If it decides that it has jurisdiction, the Court will proceed to rule on the merits of those claims, and decide whether the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award and the border between the two States should be confirmed.
Under the United Nations Charter and the Court’s own rules, its final judgments both on jurisdiction and the merits will be legally binding on Guyana and Venezuela, whether or not Venezuela participates in the proceedings.
Members of the media and the public will be able to follow the oral proceedings on the internet through a live webstream.”
The oral proceedings were scheduled to begin on March 23, 2020, but was postponed due to the current global health crisis. It is expected to give the parties to the case an opportunity to address the question of the jurisdiction of the Court over the matter.
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