I WOULDN’T HOLD MY BREATH — Granger says of Venezuela agreeing to judicial settlement with Guyana
PRESIDENT David Granger said last Friday, during his weekly television programme, “Public Interest”, that he would not “hold his breath” on Venezuela agreeing to a juridical settlement as the mode of resolution of its border controversy with Guyana. And while Venezuela’s claim to two-thirds of Guyana’s territory, including its maritime space, had all along been dormant; when, earlier this year, Deepwater Giant ExxonMobil announced the discovery of significant oil reserves just offshore Guyana, where the company was drilling, the announcement sparked Venezuela’s renewed claim to the territory of this English-speaking nation.
The controversy further escalated when, on May 27, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro issued a decree officially claiming Guyana’s territory.
The mandate of the United Nations Secretary-General is to identify the process for judicial settlement of international controversies. And while the Good Offices process, which has been utilised over the last few decades to resolve the issue has seemingly failed, President Granger made known that Guyana favours a juridical settlement through recourse to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
“Guyana’s decision to select another one of the options available under the Geneva Agreement, therefore, was wholly consistent with its object and spirit. The recourse to a juridical process as a final and binding means of resolving the controversy is provided for by the provisions of the Geneva Agreement.
“Guyana has done nothing which can be regarded as being in breach of the Geneva Agreement,” the President told Parliament on October 22.
This was eventually communicated to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, with whom the power to identify the process of resolution sits.
But, according to the Head of State, while he was impressed with the attitude of Ban Ki-moon when the two discussed the issue at length, he does not foresee a response from the UN in the short-term. He opined that the Secretary General appears to be fully engaged, since he sent his Chief of Staff to Georgetown on at least two occasions.
“I am confident that he will be able, within maybe half of [next] year or so, to identify the process. He is not going to resolve the process, but he is going to identify the process, which presumably would lead to a solution,” a hopeful President Granger said.
However, he explained that the Secretary General must first try to secure the compliance of the Government of Venezuela, as dictated by provisions in the Charter of the United Nation, which stipulate that both parties to a dispute must agree to the same conditions and instruments of evaluation.
Therefore, the President said, he would not hold his breath on Venezuela agreeing to this mode of settlement, since that country is not likely to win this case.
“He [Ban Ki-moon] demits office in a year’s time, and I expect that towards the next General Assembly, or towards the last quarter next year, we would be in a better position; we would know where we are heading. He is doing his best, but the process is not swift,” the President noted.