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ICJ to deliberate on Venezuela-Guyana border dispute

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ICJ to deliberate on Venezuela-Guyana border dispute

Venezuela Brittanica
Photo: Brittanica

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will today hold public hearings on whether it has jurisdiction to adjudicate Guyana’s longstanding border controversy with Venezuela.

The dispute focuses on Venezuela’s claim to more than two-thirds of Guyana’s landmass in the Essequibo region, including an exclusive economic zone in which more than eight billion barrels of oil have been discovered. Guyana intends to obtain a final and binding judgement that the 1899 Arbitral Award, which established the location of the land boundary between the then-British Guiana and Venezuela, remains valid, allowing it to exercise sovereignty over the contested area.

The Venezuelan government claims that the court lacks jurisdiction and has called to renew direct negotiations rather than participate in the proceedings. Per the UN Charter and the court’s own rulings, the final judgement will be legally binding regardless of Venezuela’s participation.

Expect a drawn-out legal battle due to the geopolitical implications of the dispute. A change to the territory ordinance could complicate Venezuela’s exit to the Atlantic Ocean and jeopardise its access to valuable natural resources. For Guyana, a country that has positioned oil extraction as the centrepiece of its development project, a positive outcome is fundamental to guarantee stability and investor confidence for multinational companies operating in the Essequibo.

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