Home Letters Dr Ramcharran has no experience in ICJ practice
We have read, with some surprise, the article written by Dr Bertrand Ramcharran which appeared in Stabroek News. This is all the more important, having known Dr. Ramcharran for many years. He has expertise and experience in many areas, but the practice of the International Court of Justice is not one of them, to our knowledge.
The Court faced a new situation, where its jurisdiction was based on the decision of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The Court has ruled, by a large majority, that it has jurisdiction to entertain the Application filed by the Cooperative Republic of Guyana on 29 March 2018 insofar as it concerns the validity of the Arbitration Award on 3 October 1899 and the a related question concerning the definitive settlement of the land border dispute between the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the Bolivian Republic of Venezuela ‘.
The judgment follows the Court’s careful and considered approach, as reflected in its practice. The Court has not expressed any opinion on whether or not there is a land border dispute between Guyana and Venezuela. Instead, it has decided to exercise jurisdiction over the question of whether such a dispute has been the subject of a “definitive settlement”, a question which turns on the validity of the 1899 Arbitration Award.
That, according to the Court’s careful ruling last week, is the defining issue. How that method can be described as “reckless” is unclear, and Dr Ramcharran, on careful re-reading, may come to a clearer understanding of what he has actually said. Having practiced before the Court for more than six decades, it seems to us that the judgment is reasonable in its approach, and one which is entirely favorable to Guyana.
For over 50 years, since the signing of the Geneva Agreement in 1966, and in accordance with its procedures, Guyana has been hoping for a final and binding ruling from the Court on the validity of the 1899 Prize and the resulting land border that. Finally, as a result of his perseverance and diplomatic skill, he was granted authorization by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in January 2018 to take the matter to the ICJ.
Two months later, Guyana filed his case with the Court. Venezuela immediately objected, arguing that the Court had no jurisdiction to consider the validity of the 1899 Award or the land border.
Guyana gave us the honor, led by Hon. Carl Greenidge and Sir Shridath Ramphal, together with a team of distinguished international lawyers, to argue the jurisdictional issues on his behalf. The Court’s decision of December 18 is a historic victory for Guyana.
It gives Guyana exactly what it has been seeking since independence in 1966, the opportunity to obtain a final and binding ruling from the world’s highest court on the validity of the 1899 Arbitration Award, and the border set thereunder; and to affirm Guyana’s unique and undisputed sovereignty over the entire Essequibo Region.
Mr Paul Reichler,
Foley Hoag LLP,
Sands QC, London