Guyana President: Border controversy not up for discussion

By Rumi Samuel Published on November 19, 2023
Guyana President: Border controversy not up for discussion

President Dr Irfaan Ali has declared that Guyana will not engage Venezuela on the border controversy squarely before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) but says he remains open to discussing shared issues with his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolás Maduro. 

During a press conference on Saturday afternoon, Ali said his openness to engaging  Maduro is grounded in maturity and responsibility. 

“As a good neighbour, understanding that we live in the same regions and share the same space, understanding that there are important issues that must be addressed together, I have always said that I am prepared to meet on this matter and address those issues as all good neighbours do,”  Ali said. 

He added that the border controversy, now before the ICJ, cannot be part of any talks between himself and Maduro. 

“We have chosen the ICJ as the place where the controversy from Venezuela must be settled. 

The matter is properly before the court, so it is not up for negotiations and discussions,” he said. 

After decades of negotiations failed to resolve the border controversy, the United Nations Secretary-General referred the controversy to the World Court. Guyana filed its case in March 2018 for a full and final settlement. 

The provision for the UN Secretary-General to determine the means to settle the border controversy permanently is provided for in the Geneva Agreement.  

This agreement was signed by then Prime Minister of Guyana Forbes Burnham and Venezuela’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ignacio Borges in 1966, shortly after Venezuela first objected to the 1899 arbitral award that settled the boundaries of Guyana. 

Based on this, the controversy was referred to the ICJ. 

Venezuela accepted that award and participated in the marking of the boundary line, accepting Guyana’s land area as legal, doing so for six decades until it objected to the arbitral award on the eve of Guyana’s independence from Great Britain. 

Meanwhile – the president made it clear that the government is sparing no effort in engaging foreign partners to guarantee the nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. 

The President said the government has engaged all partners and the wider international community on the border controversy with Venezuela. 

He said this is also at the diplomatic level, seeking recourse at the ICJ and even engaging military partners. 

“…What is necessary now is for us to do everything at every level to ensure that Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are kept intact. We are sparing no effort, and I am confident that our work will not only ensure this,” Ali stated. 

 “As your President, I am confident that the course Guyana is taking will not only bring us success but will ensure that our region remains peaceful.” 

The President also warned people against falling prey to misinformation and hysteria and pleaded with members of the public to rely only on official communication channels.

Rumi Samuel

Rumi Samuel

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