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Guyana and Venezuela Pledge Peaceful Resolution to Territorial Dispute

The Essequibo region was awarded to Guyana through arbitration more than a century ago but Venezuela insists that the region was falsely awarded and belongs to the Spanish speaking country.

Irfaan Ali at press conference following discussions with Maduro

A number of pledges have been made following Thursday’s dialogue between Guyana President Irfaan Ali and Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro to include a promise against the use of force.

The pledge was made as part of a declaration between the two countries. The resulting declaration, named “THE JOINT DECLARATION OF ARGYLE FOR DIALOGUE AND PEACE BETWEEN GUYANA AND VENEZUELA,” outlines a framework for addressing the longstanding territorial dispute concerning the Essequibo region.

On Thursday, December 14, 2023, in Argyle, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines held discussions on the territorial boundaries of Essequibo. All parties attending the meeting reiterated their commitment to Latin America and the Caribbean remaining a Zone of Peace. 

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro arrives in St. Vincent and is greeted by Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves

The key elements of the joint declaration include a commitment by both nations not to threaten or use force, directly or indirectly, against each other under any circumstances. This commitment extends to any existing controversies between Guyana and Venezuela.

The joint declaration emphasizes that both states will avoid escalating conflicts or disagreements – “whether by words or deeds” – and will work cooperatively to prevent tension-inducing incidents on the ground. In the event of any such incident, immediate communication will be established between Guyana, Venezuela, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Community of Latin America and the Caribbean (CELAC), and the President of Brazil to contain, reverse, and prevent its recurrence.

To ensure the implementation of these commitments, a joint commission comprising Foreign Ministers and technical experts from both Guyana and Venezuela will be established. This commission will address matters as mutually agreed upon, with an update to be submitted to Presidents Irfaan Ali and Nicolas Maduro within three months.

The leaders also agreed to resolve any controversies in accordance with international law, specifically referencing the Geneva Agreement dated February 17, 1966. However, while Guyana committed to the process and procedures of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for the resolution of the border controversy, Venezuela’s noted its lack of consent and lack of recognition of the International Court of Justice and its jurisdiction in the border controversy. 

Guyana president Irfaan Ali resolute that Essequibo belongs to Guyana

None-the-less both countries have commuted to a show of good neighborliness, peaceful coexistence, and the unity of Latin America and the Caribbean and to continue dialogue on any other pending matters of mutual importance to the two countries. 

To oversee the resolution process, key regional figures have been designated as Interlocutors and Observers. Prime Minister Ralph E. Gonsalves, the Pro-Tempore President of CELAC, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, the incumbent CARICOM Chairman, and President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil will remain engaged in the matter. The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, will also serve as an Observer, ensuring a comprehensive and impartial oversight.. 

Both States agreed to reconvene in Brazil, within the next three months, or at another agreed time, to consider any matter with implications for the territory in dispute, including the update of the joint commission. 

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