Recently appointed Advisor on Borders, Carl Greenidge, has informed Guyana Standard that Guyana’s case against Venezuela which is before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is expected to be heard before year-end. Greenidge was keen to note however that such cases take an average of four to six years from the lodging of the complaint to a decision. He stated that the actual time depends on the complexity of the case and whether both Parties participate while noting that there have been a number of efforts towards this end.
In this regard, Greenidge recalled that Guyana, after many years of struggling with the Good Offices process, had notified the United Nations in 2014 that it was dissatisfied with the process and asked that the matter be referred to the ICJ for resolution. On January 30, 2018, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, acting under the authority bestowed on him by the Geneva Agreement, chose adjudication by the Court as the means for resolving the controversy with finality. Guyana initiated proceedings before the Court on March 29, 2018, in accordance with the Secretary-General’s decision.
Notwithstanding the Secretary General’s choice of the ICJ as a means of conclusive settlement, Venezuela asserted that the ICJ has no jurisdiction in the matter and has refused to participate in the proceedings. For its part, Guyana presented on November 19, 2018, its memorial on Jurisdiction to the Court. The Court had fixed April 18, 2019, for the submission of Venezuela on this issue, but that date passed with no submission from Venezuela.
The Advisor on Borders said that Guyana nonetheless asked the Court to proceed to the oral hearings to decide whether it has jurisdiction.
Guyana Standard understands that the International Court scheduled a hearing for the week of 23-27 March 2020 at which Guyana was required to submit its oral pleadings to support why the Court was properly vested with jurisdiction by the United Nations Secretary-General and for the Court to determine its own jurisdiction in accordance with established principles of international law.
Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak globally, the hearings were only on 30th June 2020 and held virtually. The pleadings were heard by the Presiding Judge Yusuf and the Vice-President of the Court, Judge Xue along with thirteen judges, a Judge ad Hoc chosen by Guyana, and the Court’s Registrar. Along with Agent for Guyana, Mr. Carl B. Greenidge, Guyana’s Co-Agents Sir Shridat Ramphal, and Mrs Audrey Jardine-Waddell attended the hearings along with its Legal Advisors and Lawyers, Technical Advisers, and Assistants.
It was subsequently explained that the Parties must now await the conclusion of the Court’s deliberations. At this point, Greenidge told Guyana Standard that the Court is expected to give its opinion by year-end if not before the beginning of October. In this case, although Venezuela had not made a submission in accordance with the Court’s deadline and structure, Greenidge revealed that the Spanish-speaking nation had submitted material that reflected its views and arguments about some of the relevant issues.
Greenidge said that in the interim, Guyana continues to rely on the firm and principled support which it has always received from the Member States of the Caribbean Community, the Commonwealth, and the Organisation of African, the Caribbean and Pacific States Group of States inter alia, in the country’s endeavours to maintain and preserve its sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Venezuela’s claim and for support of the decision taken by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in choosing the International Court of Justice as the means for the final resolution of this long-standing issue.