THE HAGUE: The ICJ has concluded public hearings on Guyana’s request for provisional measures in its ongoing land dispute with Venezuela. The request seeks to prevent Venezuela from proceeding with a planned referendum that could lead to the annexation of disputed territory. The hearings were held on Tuesday, November 14, and Wednesday, November 15, 2023, and were led by the Hon. Carl B. Greenidge, as Agent for Guyana, and HE Mr Samuel Reinaldo Moncada Acosta, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the United Nations, as Agent for Venezuela.
Guyana’s request for provisional measures seeks to prevent Venezuela from proceeding with a consultative referendum planned for December 3, 2023, in its present form. Specifically, Venezuela is asked not to include the First, Third, or Fifth questions in the referendum, nor any question encroaching upon the legal issues to be determined by the Court in its Judgment on the Merits. Additionally, Venezuela is asked not to take any actions that are intended to prepare or allow the exercise of sovereignty or de facto control over any territory that was awarded to British Guiana in the 1899 Arbitral Award.
Venezuela, on the other hand, has asked the Court to reject Guyana’s request for provisional measures, citing its objections to the admissibility of Guyana’s Application. The Application, filed on March 29, 2018, requests the Court to confirm the legal validity and binding effect of the Arbitral Award of 3 October 1899, which established the boundary between the Colony of British Guiana and the United States of Venezuela.
The ICJ will now deliberate on the matter and deliver its decision at a later date. The Court’s decision will be delivered at a public sitting, the date of which will be announced in due course. The ongoing land dispute between Guyana and Venezuela has been a contentious issue for decades, and the ICJ’s decision on the matter is eagerly awaited by both parties.