…hopes both parties demonstrate good faith & action
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - WITH rising tension between Guyana and Venezuela over the long-running contentious border issue, the United Nations Secretary-General (UNSG), Antonio Guterres, is closely ]monitoringing the situation.
In a statement, the UN SG said he is following with “concern the recent escalation of tension between Guyana and Venezuela over the border controversy between the two countries”.
Guterres said he “trusts that both parties will demonstrate good faith and avoid any action that would aggravate or extend the controversy”.
In recent weeks, there has been a mobilisation of Venezuelan troops at the Cuyuni River border between the two countries, while the Spanish-speaking nation is preparing for a referendum billed for December 3 in which questions would be asked on the annexation of the Essequibo Region - 5/8 of Guyana’s 83,000 square-mile territory.
Responing to Venezuels’s aggressive mode, the Government and Opposition in Georgetown had agreed to a number of measures to combat the problem during a bipartisan sitting of the country’s Parliament last week.
“In January 2018, after carefully analyzing developments in the good offices process that had taken place over the preceding years, the Secretary-General, in the exercise of the power and responsibility conferred on him by the 1966 Geneva Agreement, chose the International Court of Justice as the means that was next to be used for the solution of the border controversy between the two countries. The controversy is now before the International Court of Justice. The Secretary-General does not express a view on matters that are the subject of ongoing judicial proceedings,” the SG said during a recent session of the United Nations.
St. Kitts and Nevis, like many of the the Caribbean Community, has taken a cautious approach to the matter as the Federation continues to receive support from Venezuela, while Guyana remains a partner within CARICOM.
During his press conference last week, Prime Minister Dr Terrance Drew stated the Federation’s position, indicating that he supports the region as being “a zone of peace", standing with the statement issued by the Caribbean Community.
“As you know, St. Kitts and Nevis, we have relations with both Guyana and we also have relations with Venezuela. Our position is that this region is a region of peace And as I have said before, we will do all that we can to ensure that this region remains a region of peace,” Dr. told reporters.
In its statement, the Caribbean Community, which is headquartered in Georgetown, noted the decision of the Venezuelan National Assembly to conduct a popular referendum on defending Venezuela’s claim of Essequibo.
“CARICOM further notes that two of the questions approved to be posed in the Referendum, if answered in the affirmative, would authorise the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to embark on the annexation of territory, which constitutes part of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, and to create a state within Venezuela known as Guyana Essequibo,CARICOM noted.
The matter is currently before the International Court of Justice of which Venezuela has withdrawn from participating, regarding the case.
“CARICOM reaffirms that International Law strictly prohibits the government of one State from unilaterally seizing, annexing or incorporating the territory of another state. An affirmative vote as aforesaid opens the door to the possible violation of this fundamental tenet of International Law,” CARICOM’s statement added.
CARICOM noted that the language of two questions approved to be posed in the Referendum seeks an affirmation and implementation of Venezuela’s stance on the issue “by all means, according to/with the Law”. Adding that it is open to reasonable persons to conclude that “by all means”, includes means of force or war.
Meanwhile, CARICOM insisted that “the Referendum proposed by Venezuela has no validity, bearing, or standing in International Law in relation to this controversy; the Referendum is a purely domestic construct, but its summary effect is likely to undermine peace, tranquility, security, and more, in our region”.
CARICOM ended its statement on the issue by reiterating its support for the “judicial process and expresses the hope that Venezuela will engage fully in that process before the International Court of Justice which has determined that it has the jurisdiction in the case brought before it to determine the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award which Venezuela questions”.