See full statement from the Caribbean Community
(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana – Friday, 1 December 2023) – The International Court of Justice has today, 1 December 2023, ordered Venezuela not to take any action to challenge, disrupt or interfere with Guyana’s longstanding control and administration of the Essequibo Region, which constitutes more than two-thirds of Guyana’s land territory, until the Court has issued its final Judgment on which State enjoys sovereignty over that territory.
Specifically, the Court ordered that “the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela shall refrain from taking any action which would modify the situation that currently prevails in the territory in dispute, whereby the Cooperative Republic of Guyana administers and exercises control over that area.”
The Order was adopted unanimously by all the sitting Judges.
The Court’s Order was issued in response to Guyana’s Request for Provisional Measures, which was prompted by a national referendum that Venezuela has scheduled for Sunday, December 3, in which the people are asked to approve Venezuela’s annexation of the Essequibo Region and incorporation of it into the Venezuelan State. The Court’s Order prohibits Venezuela from taking such a measure, or any other measure that would change the status quo in the territory, regardless of the outcome of the Venezuelan referendum on Sunday.
The Court’s Order reinforces the fundamental principle of International Law, enshrined in the UN and OAS Charters, that every State has the duty to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of others. The Order makes clear that holding a national referendum does not exempt a State from its obligation to comply with this duty.
Venezuela cannot by a referendum, or otherwise, violate International Law and disregard the Order of the world’s highest Court.
CARICOM expects Venezuela to uphold the ICJ’s Order of 1 December 2023. It also insists that Venezuela complies with International Law in all respects, and the Charter of the United Nations, and, in this connection, calls on it to take no actions in violation of them.
CARICOM reminds that the Venezuela-Guyana controversy is properly before the ICJ by the decision of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for ‘final settlement’, pursuant to the provisions of the 1966 Geneva Agreement to which both Venezuela and Guyana are bound. CARICOM demands that Venezuela pursue its claims within the law and the legal process.
Further, CARICOM demands that the Caribbean be respected as a Zone of Peace and that nothing should be done to disrupt the tranquility of the Region, which is essential to the economic prosperity and social well-being of all countries of CARICOM and Latin America.