His Excellency Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and Mr Aubrey C. Norton, MP., Leader of the Opposition met at the Office of the President on Tuesday October 24, 2023, to discuss the existential threat by Venezuela to Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
President Ali was accompanied by Honourable Brigadier (ret’d) Mark Phillips, M.P., Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Bharrat Jagdeo, M.P., Vice President, Honourable Gail Teixeira, M.P., Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance and Honourable Hugh Hilton Todd, M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
The Leader of the Opposition was accompanied by Honourable Khemraj Ramrattan, MP., Honourable Amanza Walton Desir, M.P.,Honourable Geeta Chandon-Edmond, MP., Honourable Tabitha J Sarabo Halley, MP., and Ambassador Ronald Austin CCH, Adviser.
In discussing the latest actions by the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in pursuit of its spurious claim to the Essequibo territory of Guyana, President Ali and Opposition Leader Mr. Norton from the outset, agreed that Guyana’s sovereignty is of paramount importance and is a matter on which the Guyanese people are all completely united.
To this end, they condemned the flagrant violation of the rule of law by Venezuela and agreed that no effort should be spared to resist that country’s persistent endeavours to undermine Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
President Ali and the Leader of the Opposition agreed that the protection of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the state must be subserved by a vigorous and comprehensive public relations programme and a proactive and robust diplomatic effort aimed at blunting Venezuelan propaganda and misinformation as they relate to the territorial controversy generally, and the Geneva Agreement in particular.
They reaffirmed the commitment to the current judicial process that is being conducted under the aegis of the International Court of Justice and are convinced that this would finally resolve the question raised by Venezuela over the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award.
They recalled that for more than six decades after the 1899 Arbitral Award was delivered, Venezuela treated the Award as a final settlement of the border between the two countries. To this end, it consistently recognised, affirmed and relied upon the 1899 Arbitral Award as “a full, perfect, and final settlement” of the boundary between British Guiana and Venezuela.
In particular, between 1900 and 1905, Venezuela participated in a joint demarcation of the boundary, in strict adherence to the letter of the 1899 Arbitral Award, and emphatically refused to countenance even minor technical modifications of the boundary line described in the Award. Venezuela proceeded to formally ratify the demarcated boundary in its domestic law and thereafter published official maps, which depicted the boundary following the line described in the 1899 Award.
In July 1931, Venezuela concluded a boundary agreement with Brazil that expressly confirmed the tri-junction point of the boundaries of British Guiana, Venezuela and Brazil as described in the 1899 Award. For more than sixty years, Venezuela gave full effect to that Award, and never raised a concern as to its validity and binding legal effects.
President Ali and Opposition Leader Mr Norton determined that the questions to be posed in the Referendum to be held by Venezuela on December 3, 2023 violated the sanctity of treaties. Moreover, they are in blatant disregard of the principles of international law. In particular, question three of the set of questions to be placed before the people of Venezuela speaks to the “historical position” of Venezuela “of not recognizing the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice to resolve the territorial controversy over Guayana Esequiba”; while question five seeks the approval of the Venezuelan people for the creation of a new Venezuelan State consisting of Guyana’s Essequibo Region, to include “the granting of citizenship and Venezuelan identity card in accordance with the Geneva Agreement and international law”. This is a deliberate misinterpretation of the Geneva Agreement and a clear violation of International Law.
They further underscored the fact that no Government or the people of one country has the right in international law to seize, annex or conquer the territory of another country. International law emphatically prohibits this.
They acknowledged the support by the international community for the preservation of Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and urged that Venezuela’s actions be closely monitored as they pose a serious threat to the peace and security of the hemisphere.
President Ali and Opposition Leader Mr Norton agreed to keep in close consultation on this matter of national importance.