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Belize and regional leaders reiterate support for Guyana in border dispute with Venezuela

Posted: Sunday, November 1, 2020. 4:10 pm CST.

By BBN Staff: At the 41st regular meeting of Heads of Government, CARICOM countries, including Belize, reiterated their “firm and unswerving support for the maintenance and preservation of the sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Guyana” in their border dispute with Venezuela. The meeting was held virtually on 29 October, 2020, and Belize was represented by Attorney General, Honourable Michael Peyrefitte.

The regional leaders also reiterated “their full support for this judicial process that is intended to bring a peaceful and definitive end to the long-standing controversy between Guyana and Venezuela”.

In its Communique issued late on Thursday, CARICOM leaders noted the oral hearing that was held virtually on 30 June, 2020 by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on jurisdiction in the case of Guyana versus Venezuela, and said that they awaited the ICJ’s decision.

In 2016, the United Nations Secretary-General announced that in the absence of significant progress towards a resolution of the border dispute between Guyana and Venezuela by the end of 2017, and unless both parties jointly request that he refrain from doing so, he would choose the ICJ as the next means of settlement.

Once the Court affirms Guyana’s jurisdiction, the Caribbean nation will proceed to the next stage of its case and will plead to the ICJ as to “why the 1899 Arbitral Award is the valid demarcation of the boundary between Guyana and Venezuela”. This should then provide for a final resolution of the controversy between the two countries as determined by the Secretary General of the United Nations.

The dispute between Guyana and Venezuela is 120 years old, dating back to 1899, and like Belize, pre-dates the existence of Guyana. The disputed region was a former Dutch colony, which was obtained by Great Britain in a treaty signed in 1814. When Venezuela declared independence from Spain, it did not agree on its borders with Great Britain.

Great Britain and Venezuela eventually agreed to take the case to a tribunal, and in 1899 the tribunal awarded the disputed territory to Guyana’s predecessor, British Guiana. The dispute was settled until 1962 when Venezuela made another claim to Guyana’s territory. 




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