By a majority decision of 12 votes to 4, the court ruled that it has “jurisdiction to entertain the application filed by the Cooperative Republic of Guyana on 29th March, 2018, insofar as it concerns the validity of the Arbitral Award of 3rd October, 1899 and the related question of the definitive settlement of the land boundary dispute between the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela."
The World Court, which is the highest juridical body of the United Nations (UN), unanimously finds that it does not have jurisdiction to entertain Guyana’s claims arising from events that occurred after the signature of the 1966 Geneva Agreement.
The World Court criticised Venezuela for not participating in the hearing on the question of its jurisdiction.
The Court having established that it has jurisdiction, to hear the case brought by Guyana, will now proceed to hear the actual case.
Guyana is seeking to obtain a final and binding judgment from the Court “to confirm the legal validity and binding effect of the Award regarding the Boundary between the Colony of British Guiana and the United States of Venezuela, of 3 October 1899 (‘1899 Award’)”. which established the location of the land boundary between then-British Guiana and Venezuela, remains valid and binding, and that Guyana’s Essequibo region belongs to Guyana, and not Venezuela.
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.
In making the case for Guyana, Co-Agent Sir Shridath Ramphal told the Court that Guyana’s case was based on the plain text of the 1966 Geneva Agreement by which the parties consented to accept the decision of the UN Secretary-General on the means of settlement of their dispute over the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award.
He contended that the 1899 Award was “a full, perfect, and final settlement” of all questions relating to determining the boundary line between the colony of British Guiana and Venezuela.
“Almost 60 years of Venezuela trying and failing to spoil the sanctity of the Treaty of Washington and to nullify the Paris Award, the Secretary-General of the United Nations indicated to the Presidents of Guyana and Venezuela in these words and I quote ‘I have fulfilled the responsibility that has fallen on me within the framework set by my predecessor and significant progress not having been made toward arriving at a full agreement for dissolution of the controversy, I have chosen the International Court of Justice as the means that is now to be used for its solution," Sir Shridath contended.
On 18 June 2018, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (hereinafter “Venezuela”) stated that it considered that the Court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case and that Venezuela would not participate in the proceedings. The Court was of the view that in the circumstances of the case, it was necessary first of all to resolve the question of its jurisdiction, and that this question should accordingly be separately determined before any proceedings on the merits.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. It was established by the UnitedNations Charter in June1945 and began its activities inApril1946. The Court is composedof 15 judges elected for a nine-year term by the General Assembly and the Security Council of the UnitedNations. The seat of the Court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands).
The Court has a twofold role: first, to settle, in accordance with international law, through judgments which have binding force and are without appeal for the parties concerned, legal disputes submitted to it by States; and, second, to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred toit by duly authorized United Nations organs and agencies of the system.
- Countries: Guyana
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