Last updated on Tuesday, 22 December 2020, 17:57 by Denis Chabrol
Members of Guyana’s legal team representing Guyana in the International Court of Justice in the controversial case on the border with Venezuela on Tuesday dismissed Attorney Dr. Dr.’s criticism. Bertie Ramcharran of that court’s decision that he had jurisdiction to hear the merits of the case.
Dr. Ramcharran was particularly surprised by the ICJ’s decision in which he referred to “dispute” instead of arguing, among his arguments.
“On closer look, there are complex features of the decision that merit serious scrutiny. With great respect, the Court’s decision is reckless. The first issue is how the Court came up with the issue that now has to be addressed in the final stage of the case. By twelve votes to four, the Court, in paragraph 138 of the Decision “Discovers 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 related question concerning the definitive settlement of the land border dispute between the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the Bolivian Republic of Venezuela. ”
By this wording, the World Court, on its own initiative, has devised a “land border dispute” between the two countries. Until now, Guyana’s position was that the land boundary was finally settled and finally in 1899. What he has been seeking is confirmation of the validity of the 1899 decision, ”it was quoted Dr. Ramcharran told by privately owned Stabroek News newspaper.
Dr Bertrand Ramcharan, a barrister at Lincoln’s Inn with a Doctorate in international law from the London School of Economics and Political Science, is a former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, a former Commissioner of the International Jurisdiction Commission and a former member. the Court of Permanent Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands. In the past he has also served as Chancellor of the University of Guyana.
Following is the response from Mr Paul Reichler, Foley Hoag LLP, Washington DC and Professor Philippe Sands QC, London
We have read with great surprise the article written by Dr Bertrand Ramcharran, 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 views on whether or not there is a dispute over a land border 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 judgment from the Court on the validity of the 1899 Prize and the resulting land border . 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 boundary set thereunder, and to affirm Guyana’s unique and undisputed sovereignty over the entire Essequibo Region.
Mr Paul Reichler, Foley Hoag LLP, Washington DC
Professor Philippe Sands QC, London
December 22, 2020