Venezuela border controversy: Secretary General has sent ICJ order to Security Council

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres

The orders of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that had prohibited Venezuela from aggravating its border controversy with Guyana, which it has since flouted, have been sent to the United Nations Security Council by Secretary General Antonio Guterres himself.

This has been revealed by the Secretary General’s Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, in response to questions from the media on how the UN is reacting to Venezuela’s actions.

Despite the ICJ ruling that Venezuela cannot take any action that would infringe on Guyana’s territorial integrity following its December 3 referendum, Venezuela has since taken several such actions.

Following the referendum, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced, among other things, that he would now authorize oil exploration in Guyana’s Essequibo county, despite the ICJ not yet pronouncing on whether Venezuela’s claims have any validity.

Maduro has also announced a three-month period for companies already operating in the region to vacate.

In his response, Dujarric reminded that decisions of the ICJ are binding on all parties involved.

“I can tell you that the Secretary-General strongly supports the use of solely peaceful means to settle international disputes. He further recalls that, pursuant to the Charter and to the Statute of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), decisions of the Court are binding, and he trusts that both States will duly comply with the Order from the Court,” Dujarric has said.

According to Dujarric, the order issued by the ICJ containing provisional measures against Venezuela had been a unanimous one. Further, he made it clear that the UN Security Council has already been engaged by the Secretary-General.

“The Secretary-General notes the Court’s unanimous decision to order Venezuela to “refrain from taking any action that would modify the situation that currently prevails in the territory in dispute,” Dujarric said.

“The Secretary-General also notes that the Court’s order to both parties to refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute or make it more difficult to resolve. In accordance with the Statute of the Court, the Secretary-General transmitted the notice of the provisional measures ordered by the Court to the Security Council.”

Last month, the Venezuelan National Electoral Council published a list of five questions that it planned to put before the Venezuelan people in the December 3, 2023 referendum.

The referendum sought the Venezuelan people’s approval to, among other things, annex Essequibo and create a Venezuelan state thereof. It also sought the citizens’ approval for Venezuela to grant citizenship and identity cards to residents of Essequibo.

After years of failed Good Offices process via the United Nations (UN), Guyana is seeking a final and binding judgement from the ICJ to reinforce that the 1899 Arbitral Award remains valid and binding on all parties; as well as legal affirmation that Guyana’s Essequibo region, which contains much of the country’s natural resources, belongs to Guyana, and not Venezuela.

Over the past few weeks, Guyana has been informing regional and international partners of Venezuela’s referendum, which has been criticized by the United States, Caricom, and the Organization of American States (OAS), as well as by several other nations in the Region, including Brazil.

Last week Friday, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued a ruling barring Venezuela from taking any action emanating from the referendum to seize Essequibo while the Court makes its decision about the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award. Maduro has nevertheless announced a series of measures on Tuesday, aimed at annexing Essequibo.

In a national address on Tuesday evening, President Dr. Irfaan Ali announced that the Government would engage the UN on Venezuela’s latest actions. He said that “by defying the Court, Venezuela has rejected international law, the rule of law generally, fundamental justice and morality, and the preservation of international peace and security”. And he added, “They have literally declared themselves an outlaw nation”.

Back in June, Guyana was among five countries elected to sit on the UN Security Council for the 2024-2025 term as a non-permanent member. Permanent members of the Security Council include China, France, Russia and the United States. This Council is a body responsible for maintaining international peace and security.