Editorial Staff
3 months ago

Editorial Staff
3 months ago

CARICOM leaders urged to meet on Guyana-Venezuela border dispute

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The flag of Guyana pinned on the map. Horizontal orientation. Macro photography.

Dr Mark Kirton, an esteemed expert in international relations from Guyana, has urged CARICOM leaders to hold an emergency summit ahead of Venezuela’s planned December 3 referendum, as Venezuela continues to assert its ownership of Essequibo – a county that is rich in minerals and forests.

Kirton, who was speaking as part of a panel on the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy, emphasized the need for regional leaders to take action beyond merely issuing statements on the issue, which is also before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

His call was for a meeting of CARICOM heads before the 3rd of December, with the sole item on the agenda being the existential threat to Guyana’s sovereignty, and a commitment to unequivocal and unwavering support for Guyana.

Kirton also proposed that an enhanced regional security system be considered as part of a broader international strategic deterrence mission, which could act as a counterbalance to any potential aggression by neighboring countries.

Describing Venezuela as a “class bully,” Kirton maintained that diplomacy must be the first line of defense, and called for stronger relationships with countries such as Brazil, other countries in the hemisphere, the African Union, the Brits, and Russia.

He also highlighted the importance of getting unequivocal support from the region’s own brothers and sisters, including those who have been on the fence.

Last week, the ICJ reserved its judgement on Guyana’s claim that Venezuela intends to gain ownership of Essequibo through a referendum on December 3, citing evidence submitted by Guyana.

Both Guyana and Venezuela made presentations to the ICJ during the two-day hearing, relating to the 1899 Arbitral Award that established the border between the two territories.

Guyana had applied to the ICJ in 2018 to have the 1899 Arbitral Award confirmed as legally enforceable.

The 15-member CARICOM grouping, the Commonwealth Secretariat, and the Organisation of American States (OAS) have all rejected the referendum, stating that international law strictly prohibits one state from unilaterally seizing, annexing, or incorporating the territory of another state.

They noted that the referendum could open the door to a possible violation of this fundamental principle of international law.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, who was also a member of the panel, reaffirmed CARICOM’s strong statement in support of Guyana, issued in September.

He added that the government remains committed to exploring every available option to safeguard Guyana and its population.

Nandlall also stated that whether another engagement dedicated to this purpose should be held is a matter that the government as a collective will have to invite the entire CARICOM to convene.

It is not a decision that the Government of Guyana can make and impose unilaterally on a community of about 15-17 different governments.


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