Statement by the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana
One week ago, the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana issued a statement denouncing the aggressive new measures taken by Venezuela in furtherance of its groundless and unlawful territorial claim to Guyana’s Essequibo Region. These new measures included a purported national referendum to ratify the Venezuelan government’s apparent decision to withdraw from the present judicial proceedings in the International Court of Justice and proceed unilaterally to incorporate the Essequibo Region into its own national territory as an integral part of Venezuela.
Guyana properly characterized this naked threat of territorial aggression as: “nothing less than the annexation of Guyana’s territory, in blatant violation of the most fundamental rules of the UN Charter, the OAS Charter and general international law.” Guyana’s statement added that: “Such a seizure of Guyana’s territory would constitute the international crime of aggression.
Following Guyana’s statement, CARICOM issued a strongly worded denunciation of Venezuela’s measures, fully supporting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Guyana.
Yesterday, in further response to Venezuela’s sinister plan for seizing Guyanese territory, Guyana sought the urgent protection of the International Court of Justice, by filing with the Court a Request for Provisional Measures. In that Request, Guyana seeks from the Court an Order preventing Venezuela from taking any action to seize, acquire or encroach upon, or assert or exercise sovereignty over, the Essequibo Region or any other part of Guyana’s national territory, pending the Court’s final determination of the validity of the Arbitral Award that established the land boundary between our two States, and the final and binding nature of that boundary. Guyana has no doubt of the validity of that Arbitral Award and the land boundary, which Venezuela accepted and recognized as the international boundary for more than 60 years.
Because of the urgency of the matter, Guyana has asked the Court to schedule oral hearings on its Request at the earliest possible date in advance of December 3, 2023, the date Venezuela has fixed for its sham referendum.
Guyana insists, as does CARICOM, the Secretaries-General of the United Nations and Organization of American States, and the entire international community, that the controversy over the validity of the Arbitral Award and the land boundary must be resolved by the International Court of Justice, which will assure a just, peaceful, binding and permanent solution to this matter, in accordance with international law. In fact, the Court itself has determined, in two separate Orders, that it has the exclusive jurisdiction to resolve this matter, and that it will do so. Twice Venezuela has formally objected to the Court’s jurisdiction, and both times the Court overwhelmingly rejected Venezuela’s objections.
In the interim, pending the oral hearing on its request and the issuance of the Court’s Order, Guyana urges CARICOM and the international community to continue reminding Venezuela of its obligations under international law, including its obligation to accept the ICJ’s jurisdiction, plead its case to the Court, and comply with the Court’s rulings and Judgments.