– denies Maduro’s latest decree as aggressive, says ICJ is the legal and peaceful way forward
THE RECEIPTS of international law will not be tolerated by the international community, a renowned Guyana-born diplomat Sir Ronald Sanders has said in response to Venezuela’s recent claims to the seas and seabed near the coast west of Essequibo River, which belongs to Guyana.
“The international community must be brought on board soon, because the Maduro Government and the Opposition must understand that the international community will not tolerate breaking international law,” said Sir Ronald during an exclusive interview with the Guyana Chronicle on Sunday.
Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro on January 7, 2021 issued a decree asserting Venezuela’s sovereignty and exclusive sovereign rights in the waters and seabed off the coast of Guyana, west of the Essequibo River.
Although this decree is yet to be listed or elaborated on, Sir Ronald said: “What they put out informally is quite disturbing, and it highlights a breach of the law international. But, you have to wait and see how far they go before you make a strong statement on this. ”
Since then, President Irfaan Ali has confirmed that Venezuela’s attempt to claim for itself the seas and seabed near the coast west of the Essequibo River will receive no legal attention from any other State in the world , and more than Guyana.
Unfortunately, by ruling that the seas adjacent to this territory belong to Venezuela, at least two basic principles of international law have been violated, President Ali said during a speech to the nation on Saturday.
The first offense, as outlined by the President of Guyana, he said, is that no State can unilaterally set its international borders, whether land or maritime.
President Ali argued that the imposition of an international border under international law can only result from an agreement between neighboring States, or a binding decision of an international court or arbitral tribunal.
“Therefore, this attempt by Venezuela to seek, unilaterally, to repair its land and maritime borders with Guyana is legally void, which cannot, and will not, be respected by any other State in the world, by including Guyana, ”confirmed Head of State.
There is a second fundamental international law offense referred to by President Ali, based on the fact that, under the established rules of international law, there is a fundamental principle that says, “the land dominates the sea”.
This means that sovereignty, and sovereign rights in the sea and the seabed derive from title to the land that forms the coast to which that seas and bed lie. As Guyana has sovereign rights over the coast west of the Essequibo River, as far as Punta Playa, it follows that, as a result, only this country can enjoy sovereignty and exclusive sovereign rights over the surrounding sea and bed the sea.
Sir Ronald said President Ali was right in pointing out international law violations, but noted that the decree has not yet been listed, so the full extent of what Venezuela is suggesting is not yet known.
However, Guyana has since shown itself to take no chances, with President Ali informing the nation that he is warning the international community, including sister states in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) of ‘ the recent illegal acts by Venezuela.
“Well, I think the President has taken all the right steps; it lets the international community know about this act, which is already breaking international law… Whatever the size of the breach of international law, it is a violation, and it is important that the international community is warned, ” Sir Ronald reasoned.
He reiterated that it is also important for Guyana to inform the Commonwealth and the European Union to ensure that they understand that this is a turbulent development, which everyone must keep a close eye on.
The “turbulent development” comes when referring to the heels of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling that it has jurisdiction to hear the case of Guyana’s border disputes, Venezuela.
Guyana is confident that the international court will resolve the issue in its favor, and that this will also settle the issue of maritime rights in the adjacent sea and seabed.
“I am reminded that Guyana (then British Guiana) was awarded sovereignty over this coast, and the territorial territory to which it is attached, in the 1899 Arbitration Award, whose authenticity and character legally binding Guyana with confidence in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) holding unequivocally, ”confirmed President Ali.
Meanwhile a way forward.
“Maduro’s aggressive allegations do not change this; they only show it to their neighbors and international law to the world, ”Kozak asserted in a post on his official Twitter page.
In addition, the United States Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch reiterated the call of the North American country for a legal, peaceful resolution to the border debate.
Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon in a statement on Sunday urged Venezuela to use the ICJ as the forum to present its case, and stop issuing these arbitrary decrees.
“This decree is mischievous, illegal, and can only serve to temper tensions on a matter that is resolved peacefully at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Venezuela, as a Member State of the United Nations, is bound by the jurisdiction and rulings of the ICJ, ”Harmon said in the statement.
The Coalition A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU + AFC), proposed that it is robust, and in unity with any reasonable steps that the people of Guyana are likely to embark on to protect Guyana sovereignty.
The Citizenship Initiative also joined President Ali in overturning Maduro’s ‘provocative’ decree, claiming sovereignty over Essequibo.
“We fully support the government’s position and look forward to the international court’s decision. We expect him to be in favor of Guyana and the recognition and legitimacy of long-standing ownership of the land and maritime space will be confirmed, ”the political party said in a post on its Facebook page on Saturday.
They say, every Guyanese will be encouraged to stand united in defending the nation’s territory and national sovereignty.