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No word on if UN team proposed options to border controversy

A UNITED Nations team met with President David Granger and Foreign Affairs Minister, Carl Greenidge, on Friday – the first meeting since its last month’s fact finding mission aimed at addressing the border controversy with Venezuela.   The technical delegation of the United Nations, headed by Susana Malcorra, Chef de Cabinet to the United Nations Secretary-General, and Greenidge said the meeting was satisfactory.

However, while this visit was expected to see the UN present Guyana with options for a resolution of the matter, there have been no disclosures in this regard by the current Administration, nor was any comment made on if options were presented at all.

A statement from the Foreign Affairs Ministry only said, ““The exchange of views between the representatives of Guyana and the officials from the United Nations was a continuation of the programme of activities, which were laid out by the Secretary General following his meeting on September 28, 2015, with the Presidents of Guyana and Venezuela on the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York.

“The visit was in keeping with the efforts of the United Nations Secretary General to find a solution to the controversy that has been brought about by the Venezuelan contention that the Arbitral Award of 1899, that established the boundary between Guyana and Venezuela, is null and void.”

The UN meet is also expected to meet with Venezuelan leaders.

If options are proposed, the question is what those options will be and will both nations agree on any particular option. Also, what if Guyana agrees? What if Venezuela does not?

The current A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) administration has said it favours a juridical settlement of the border controversy. Notably, while the United Nations is currently acting as a mediator of the border controversy, the UN itself has offered no comment on a juridical settlement.

These questions that remain are:
•    Will the UN Secretary General suggest a juridical settlement to both Guyana and Venezuela?
•    Is a juridical settlement provided for by under the UN Charter, which will allow it as a mediator to approach the International Court of Jurists (ICJ)?
•    Does ICJ have authority to preside over a juridical settlement?
•    If Venezuela does not agree to a juridical settlement, can Guyana advance such a case on its own?

Both countries, however, have committed to peaceful resolution and the UN has committed to supporting a final resolution of the matter.

The UN, in October, voiced satisfaction with the “progress” achieved towards a settlement of the territorial dispute between Venezuela and Guyana after the talks held with the parties involved.

Malcorra, in October, also led visits to Caracas.  The mission was arranged late in September when Presidents David Granger and Nicolas Maduro met with the UN Chief, Ban Ki-moon, in New York.

The United Nations spokesperson, Farhan Haq, at a press conference stated that Malcorra was “satisfied” with the progress achieved to settle the controversy.

The 1899 demarcation – the 1899 Arbitral Award – of the territorial limits considered the border controversy between Guyana and Venezuela settled and made clear that the Essequibo belongs to Guyana.

The Award was disputed and in 1966, Guyana and Venezuela signed the Geneva Agreement. This agreement took note of the fact that Venezuela was disputing the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award. While it did not take any position about Venezuela’s claim to Essequibo, it committed Venezuela, Britain and Guyana to ensure that “any outstanding controversy…should (be) amicably resolved in a manner acceptable to both parties.”

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro recently disclosed that the signing of the 1966 Geneva Agreement rendered the 1899 Arbitral Award null and void and is the ground on which he has taken his challenge to the UN.

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