As Guyana continues to enjoy growing support from the international community, the United Kingdom and Canada have joined calls for Venezuela to release Guyanese fishing boats and crew members held last week.
In a brief statement on Thursday, Canada threw its support behind Guyana’s efforts to immediately release the fishermen and their ships from detention.
“Canada is backing Guyana to call for the immediate release of two Guyanese ships detained by the Maduro regime. We reiterate our call for respect for international law, ”detailed the mishap by the Canadian High Commission in Georgetown.
Meanwhile, the UK Government also issued a statement on Thursday, in which it said, “The UK is concerned in reports that Venezuelan vessels have detained Guyanese fishing vessels and crew. We are calling for their early release. ”
According to the statement, the UK said it was clear that the 1899 Arbitration Award had settled the border between Guyana and Venezuela.
“We urge a bilateral decision to the debate and support the efforts of the UN Secretary General,” the British Government noted.
Following the failed Good Officer Process between Guyana and Venezuela, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres recommended in January 2018 that the border dispute be taken to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for settlement. As such, Guyana made its application two months later, asking the World Court for a final and binding ruling to reinforce that the 1899 Arbitration Award remains valid and binding on all parties, and legal confirmation that Guyana’s Essequibo region , which contains many natural Guyana resources, belongs to Guyana and not Venezuela.
However, the Spanish-speaking nation had refused to take part in the lawsuit and had written the court to say that the UN’s SG had exceeded its authority under the 1966 Geneva Agreement when it referred the case to the ICJ, and, therefore, the court had no jurisdiction to adjudicate the matter.
But in a majority decision on December 18, 2020, the ICJ ruled that it had jurisdiction to rule over the border controversy case.
The ICJ found that Guyana and Venezuela had consented to a judicial settlement when they signed the Geneva Agreement as the judicial process through the ICJ is one of the avenues available to the Secretary-General in resolving the dispute. Therefore, the Court’s decision is binding on both parties.
The Court is expected to hold a case management hearing on Feb. 15 after two previously scheduled hearings were postponed at Venezuela’s request, requesting more time to prepare for the hearing.
On January 21, the two Guyana-registered fishing vessels – Lady Nayera and Sea Wolf – operating off the coast of Waini Point within the Guyana Outstanding Economic Zone (EEZ), were intercepted by Venezuelan navy Commandante Hugo Chávez GC 24.
The Captains were instructed to charter a course to Port Guiria where the boats and crew are kept.
The Guyana Ministry of Foreign Affairs had said that a Venezuelan ship was moving illegally within EEZ and the Guyana Adjoining Zone when it intercepted, boarded and comandeered the Guyanese fishing vessels.
Thursday’s calls from the UK and Canada to release the 12 fishermen and the two boats come on the heels of growing support from the international community – something the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd, says he feels “good” about it.
In fact, during a speech to the National Assembly on Thursday, Minister Todd said that his Ministry is continuing to engage with the international community to resolve this issue with Venezuela in the most peaceful and diplomatic manner.
He noted that the individual Member States of Caricom and the bloc as a whole had denied Venezuela’s actions, calling on it to release the crew and ships. The Minister also added that the Organization of American States (OAS) also issued a statement highlighting that “resolving the territorial dispute between Venezuela and Guyana is an issue of international jurisdiction, and cannot be settled by unilateral action. Any attempt to expel this international legal process such as the decree issued by the Maduro regime is contrary to international law and standards, and has no legal significance or significance ”.
According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Government of Guyana is urged that the international community be abducted from this issue.
“Guyana greatly appreciates the support it has received and continues to receive from individual member states of the international community – such as Belize, Brazil, Canada, France, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom. and the United States of America, as well as through regional and international groups of Caricom; the OAS; the Commonwealth; African, Caribbean and Pacific States Organization and the European Union – in its vigorous efforts to preserve its sovereignty and territorial integrity, ”Todd told the National Assembly.

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