The Hague / Caracas. The International Court of Justice rejected Venezuela’s objections in a case brought by Guyana over sovereignty over the Iquibo Strip.
The two neighboring South American nations have an unresolved border dispute that dates back to the colonial era. In 2018, Guyana petitioned the International Court of Justice to confirm the validity of the boundaries drawn by the Court of Paris in 1899.
Now presiding judge Joan Donoghue, the court decided by a 14-to-1 vote to reject Venezuela’s objection that the United Kingdom, as the former ruler of British Guiana in 1899, should also be involved in the case, announced.
Venezuela must now present its “counter-memorial” to prove its position. The hearing date has not been announced.
The court previously ruled against Caracas, finding that it had jurisdiction to consider the arguments in the dispute. The government of Nicolás Maduro has consistently rejected the authority of the International Court of Justice to rule on this matter.
Venezuela rejects the 1899 borders as “fraudulent” as a five-member court denied the involvement of Venezuelan negotiators. Caracas argues that the 160,000 square kilometer strip belonged to Spain in colonial times and was inherited by the independent Republic of Venezuela in the early 19th century. In contrast, Guyana claims Britain colonized the area after an 1814 treaty with the Netherlands.
However, the border was never defined, and Venezuela has designated Esequibo as a “claimed area” (Zona En Reclamación) on its maps. Maduro’s government refers to the Geneva Convention of 1966, in which the two countries committed themselves to a negotiated solution and which also overrides the 1899 arbitration award and is the only valid tool for settling the dispute.
in opinion Commenting on the latest ruling, the government said the country would “take all measures at its disposal to defend its legitimate rights and territorial integrity.”
Venezuelan sovereignty over the Essequibo Strip has historically been a near-consensus position across the political spectrum. The US-backed “One Platform” coalition, which includes some major opposition parties, called for national unity on the issue after the verdict. One of them said, “The strategic value of Esequibo should be the key to the fight for our nation’s rights.” report Platform. During the 2021 negotiations in Mexico City, one of the joint agreements between the government and the opposition concerned a claim to sovereignty over the Iquibo Strip.
The long-unresolved territorial dispute erupted in recent years after the Government of Guyana moved forward with offshore energy projects in the Strip’s territorial waters. Washington upheld the 1899 ruling, and ExxonMobil has discovered five major oil fields totaling more than 11 billion barrels since 2015. The group plans to drill more than 60 wells in the coming years in addition to the 30 currently in operation.
Caracas accused its neighbor of violating the 1966 agreement and basing its position on corporate interests.
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