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Venezuela must refrain from taking any action against Guyana, ICJ rules

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, (DPI) – The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ruled that Venezuela shall refrain from taking any action that would affect Guyana’s control of its Essequibo region, pending the court’s final decision in the border controversy case.  

By a unanimous decision, the court on Friday delivered provisional measures intended to avoid any aggravation.

These measures provide that:

  • The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, shall refrain from taking any action, which would modify the situation that currently prevails in the territory in dispute, whereby the Cooperative Republic of Guyana administers and exercises control over that area.
  • Both parties must refrain from any action that can aggravate or extend the dispute before the court or make it more difficult to resolve.

These measures are legally binding and prevent Venezuela from taking any actions upon Guyanese territory regardless of the outcome of its scheduled referendum.

Delivering the order, president of the Court, Judge Joan E. Donoghue accepted Guyana’s argument that the questions in Venezuela’s referendum, specifically question five, which speaks to the annexing of Guyana’s Essequibo region, present a ‘risk of irreparable prejudice’ before the court delivers its final decision.

“The court further considers that Venezuela’s expressed readiness to take action with regard to the territory in dispute in these proceedings at any moment, following the referendum, scheduled for 3rd December, 2023, demonstrates that there is urgency in the sense that there’s a real and imminent risk of irreparable prejudice to Guyana’s plausible right before the court gives its final decision.” 

The National Electoral Council of Venezuela issued five questions for the December 3, 2023, referendum. Questions three and five are particularly concerning, aiming to support Venezuela’s baseless claim to the Essequibo region.

Question three seeks approval for Venezuela’s refusal to recognise the ICJ’s jurisdiction in the controversy, while question five seeks approval from Venezuelans to create a new state in Guyana’s Essequibo region, incorporating it into Venezuela, and granting citizenship to the population

In October, Guyana issued a Request for Provisional Measures to the ICJ, which sought a court order preventing Venezuela from taking any action to seize, acquire, encroach upon, or assert sovereignty over the Essequibo Region or any other part of Guyana’s national territory, pending the final decision of the court in deciding the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award and the final and binding nature of the boundary.

In 2018, Guyana filed an application instituting proceedings against Venezuela, requesting the ICJ “to confirm the legal validity and binding effect of the Award regarding the Boundary between the Colony of British Guiana and the United States of Venezuela, of 3 October 1899.”

The Court indicates provisional measures




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