22. Arbitral Award of 3 October 1899 (Guyana v. Venezuela: Report ICJ (1/9/2018-31-7/2019) V.31.10.19
Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, President of the ICJ, addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York yesterday on the occasion of the presentation of the Court’s Annual Report 2018-2019.
12. Arbitral Award of 3 October 1899 (Guyana v. Venezuela) – p44-46/69
207. On 29 March 2018, Guyana filed an Application instituting proceedings against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
208. In its Application, Guyana requested the Court “to confirm the legal validity and binding effect of the Award Regarding the Boundary between the Colony of British Guiana and the United States of Venezuela, of 3 October 1899”. The Applicant claimed that the 1899 Award was “‘a full, perfect, and final settlement’ of all questions
relating to determining the boundary line between the colony of British Guiana and Venezuela”.
209. Guyana asserted that between November 1900 and June 1904, a joint Anglo- Venezuelan Boundary Commission had “identified, demarcated and permanently fixed the boundary established by the … Award” before the signing of a Joint Declaration by the Commissioners on 10 January 1905 (referred to as “the 1905 Agreement”).
210. Guyana contended that, in 1962, for the first time, Venezuela had contested the Award as “arbitrary” and “null and void”. This, according to the Applicant, had led to the signing of the Agreement to resolve the controversy between Venezuela and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland over the frontier between Venezuela and British Guiana at Geneva on 17 February 1966, which “provided for recourse to a series of dispute settlement mechanisms to finally resolve the controversy”.
211. Guyana further submitted that the Geneva Agreement had authorized the United Nations Secretary-General to decide which appropriate dispute resolution mechanism to adopt for the peaceful settlement of the dispute, in accordance with Article 33 of the United Nations Charter. According to the Applicant:
“On 30 January 2018, … Secretary-General [H.E.] António Guterres determined that the good offices process had failed to achieve a peaceful settlement of the controversy. He then took a formal and binding decision, under Article IV, paragraph 2 of the Agreement, to choose a different means of settlement under Article 33 of the Charter. In identical letters to both Parties, he communicated the terms of his decision that, pursuant to the authority vested in him by the Geneva Agreement, the controversy shall be settled by recourse to the International Court of Justice.”
212. In its Application, filed “pursuant to the Secretary-General’s decision”, Guyana requested the Court 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.”
213. By an Order dated 19 June 2018, the Court decided that the written pleadings in the case must first address the question of the jurisdiction of the Courtand fixed 19 November 2018 and 18 April 2019as the respective time-limits for the filing of a Memorial by Guyana and a Counter-Memorial by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
214. The Court took this decision following a meeting held on 18 June 2018 with representatives of the parties.
215. The Memorial of Guyana was filedwithin the time-limit thus fixed.
My own notes and musings, as a simple petroleum exploration geologist.
a) Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela did not file a Counter-Memorial.
As they already previously indicated they do not consider that ICJ has the jurisdiction to rule and decide on this ” Controversy “.
So, what is ahead ?
All the time and money spent via ICJ was lost, for nothing ?
Who is going to decide ?
Who has jurisdiction ?
b) What would Hugo Grotius have thought or said on this subject?
He was one of the first to formulate the international society doctrine.
As well as one of the first to define expressly the idea of one society of states, governed not by force or warfare.
But by actual laws and mutual agreement to enforce those laws.
c) Hugo Grotius, famous Dutch jurist: De Indis and Mare Liberum
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