President David Granger is optimistic that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) will dispense a ruling in Guyana’s favor in the border case with Venezuela. The Guyanese president expressed these sentiments while appearing on the popular radio program, Hot Seat.
“We hope that we will get a judgment and we are confident that we will be getting a very favorable judgment in a very short time,” Granger said, adding that the issue had been a “monkey on our backs for the last half-century”.
“The territorial question has a lot to do with our petroleum exploration, the lineation of our maritime frontiers and seeking the court’s reassertion of the agreement of 1899 which clearly demarcated our borders.”
The vast area west of the Essequibo River makes up two-thirds of the territory of Guyana and has been claimed by Venezuela as its own since the 19th century, when Guyana was still a British colony. The international Arbitral Award of October 1899 settled the Venezuelan claim, firmly defining the disputed territory as belonging to Guyana.
But Venezuela contends that the Arbitral Award was null and void, and its claim on Guyana’s territory has been renewed since ExxonMobil made its first world class oil discovery offshore the CARICOM nation.
Despite the dispute, President Granger said Guyana has been fulfilling its humanitarian mandate by facilitating Venezuelan migrants crossing the border to escape the socio-economic turmoil in their homeland.
Granger stressed that he did not view the migrant situation as a threat to Guyana’s territorial integrity. “Should there be a military threat, I am very confident that the defence forces will be capable of deterring aggression,” Granger said.
The ICJ will begin hearing arguments in March 2020 on whether it has jurisdiction over the case filed by Guyana as it relates to the Arbitral Award of 1899.