Venezuela’s request to ICJ for extension of case management a diversionary tactic
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Guyana’s Agent in the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy, Carl Greenidge
Guyana’s Agent in the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy, Carl Greenidge

– Greenidge says Guyana not in agreement with request, but will work with the court

By Navendra Seoraj
VENEZUELA’S request to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for an extension in the date for the case management of the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy, though granted by the court, is seen by Guyana as a tactic to divert the ICJ from its “noble procedures”, Advisor on Borders at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Carl Greenidge, has said.
The case management hearing was initially scheduled for January 25, 2021, but, owing to the request by Venezuela, this hearing has been postponed to February 26.

A case management in legal terms refers to the schedule of proceedings involved in a matter. There are various stages in litigation, such as the filing of a complaint, answers, the discovery process (interrogatories, subpoenaed, depositions and so forth), and motions that occur before a trial is held or a decision is rendered.
Venezuela had requested that this exercise be postponed for three months. However, the court granted an extension of only one month.
“The requests put to the ICJ are only intended to divert the court from its noble procedures,” Greenidge said during a telephone interview with the Guyana Chronicle, on Monday.
In March 2018, Guyana filed its application in the ICJ seeking an affirmation of the validity of the1899 Arbitral Award and the international boundary that it established.

On June 30, Guyana, in its virtual presentation in the Arbitral Award of October 1899 (Guyana v. Venezuela) case, said that, not only is Venezuela’s current interpretation of the Geneva Agreement illogical and erroneous, but it is in stark contrast to the interpretation the Spanish-speaking country had when it signed the very agreement in February 1966.
Represented by a battery of international lawyers, Guyana said the agreement, in unambiguous terms, empowered the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General to determine an appropriate resolution mechanism to enable a peaceful settlement, which is the ICJ.
The ICJ ruled on December 18, 2020, that it has jurisdiction to hear the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy case.

Guyana is seeking to obtain a final and binding judgement that the 1899 Arbitral Award, which established the location of the land boundary between then British Guiana and Venezuela, remains valid, and that the Essequibo region belongs to Guyana, and not Venezuela.

Greenidge believes that just as Guyana is aware, the court too should be cognisant that Venezuela has said, for the longest while, that it is not interested in having this matter resolved by the court.
It is for this very reason that Guyana is against Venezuela’s request to delay the court process, which is expected to bring the ongoing border controversy to a peaceful end.
“We have done no more than indicate to the court that we do not agree with the explanation provided in the request, especially since the case management is procedural and does not require any sort of preparation, that will take three months on the part of any one party,” Greenidge said.

His view, however, is that the extension granted by the ICJ cannot help Venezuela because the country has searched for 50 years and still has not been able to find information to prove that the Arbitral Award of October 1899 is invalid.
“What they could not find in 50 years, they will not be able to find in a few months,” Greenidge asserted.
The extension, though not helpful to Venezuela is more likely to be good for the ICJ since the court is expected to shift to a new President within a matter of days.
Greenidge, in explaining this, said: “Maybe the delay will give the court more time for the matter to be considered by the new President and his team.”

Guyana, nonetheless, remains ready to work with the court to ensure that it completes its work speedily and without the diversions and disruptions Venezuela is looking to instigate.

Venezuela’s President, Nicolás Maduro, on January 7, 2021, issued a decree claiming Venezuela’s sovereignty and exclusive sovereign rights in the waters and seabed adjacent to Guyana’s coast, west of the Essequibo River.
President, Dr. Irfaan Ali has since rejected Venezuela’s latest claim and noted that it will receive no legal regard from any other State in the world, moreso Guyana.


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