The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Thursday announced that it will deliver a decision on the question of its jurisdiction to hear the case on the validity of the Arbitral Award of 3 October 1899 (Guyana v. Venezuela) regarding the boundary between Venezuela and then British Guiana, on December 18, 2020 at 3pm.
The case is premised on a border dispute between Guyana and Venezuela in which the Spanish-speaking country has laid claim to Guyana’s largest county Essequibo.
According to a statement from the court which has its seat in the Hague, Netherlands, a public sitting of the court will take place during which its President Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, will read the decision.
On June 30, 2020, the ICJ entertained arguments on the question from Guyana’s legal team led by Sir Shridath Ramphal.
The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has claimed, in a letter to the ICJ, that the Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres exceeded his authority under the 1966 Geneva Agreement, when he referred the case to the ICJ.
As such, Venezuela argues that the court lacks jurisdiction to adjudicate Guyana’s lawsuit. In this regard, Venezuela refused to participate in those proceedings.
Guyana has asked the ICJ to adjudge and declare that:
(a)The 1899 Award [was] valid and binding upon Guyana and Venezuela, and the boundary established by that Award and the 1905 Agreement [was] valid and binding upon Guyana and Venezuela;
(b)Guyana enjoy[ed] full sovereignty over the territory between the Essequibo River and the boundary established by the 1899 Award and the 1905 Agreement, and Venezuela enjoy[ed] full sovereignty over the territory west of that boundary; Guyana and Venezuela [were] under an obligation to fully respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in accordance with the boundary established by the 1899 Award and the 1905 Agreement;
(c)Venezuela [had to] immediately withdraw from and cease its occupation of the eastern half of the Island of Ankoko, and each and every other territory which [was] recognized as Guyana’s sovereign territory in accordance with the 1899 Award and 1905 Agreement;
(d)Venezuela [had to] refrain from threatening or using force against any person and/or company licensed by Guyana or engage in economic or commercial activity in Guyanese territory as determined by the 1899 Award and 1905 Agreement, or in any maritime areas appurtenant to such territory over which Guyana ha[d] sovereignty or exercise[d] sovereign rights, and shall not interfere with any Guyanese or Guyanese-authorised activities in those areas;
(e) Venezuela [was] internationally responsible for violations of Guyana’s sovereignty and sovereign rights, and for all injuries suffered by Guyana as a consequence.
The ICJ is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. It was established by the United Nations Charter in June 1945 and began its activities in April 1946.
The Court is composed of 15 judges elected for a nine-year term by the General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations.
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 to it by duly authorized United Nations organs and agencies of the system.