Secretary-General Chooses International Court of Justice as Means for Peacefully Settling Long-Standing Guyana-Venezuela Border Controversy

SG/SM/18879-ICJ/630
30 January 2018

Secretary-General Chooses International Court of Justice as Means for Peacefully Settling Long-Standing Guyana-Venezuela Border Controversy

The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres:

The long-standing border controversy between Guyana and Venezuela arose as a result of the Venezuelan contention that the Arbitral Award of 1899 about the frontier between British Guiana and Venezuela is null and void.  In the Geneva Agreement of 1966, Guyana and Venezuela conferred upon the Secretary-General the power and responsibility to choose a means of peaceful settlement from amongst those contemplated in Article 33 of the Charter of the United Nations.  The Geneva Agreement also provides that if the means so chosen does not lead to a solution of the controversy, the Secretary-General is to choose another means of settlement.

Former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon communicated to the parties on 15 December 2016 a framework for the resolution of the border controversy based on his conclusions on what would constitute the most appropriate next steps.  Notably, he concluded that the Good Offices Process, which had been conducted since 1990, would continue for one final year, until the end of 2017, with a strengthened mandate of mediation.  He also reached the conclusion that if, by the end of 2017, his successor, Secretary-General António Guterres, concluded that significant progress had not been made towards arriving at a full agreement for the solution of the controversy, he would choose the International Court of Justice as the next means of settlement, unless the Governments of Guyana and Venezuela jointly requested that he refrain from doing so.

In early 2017, Secretary-General Guterres appointed a Personal Representative, Dag Halvor Nylander, who engaged in intensive high-level efforts to seek a negotiated settlement to the controversy.

The Secretary-General has carefully analysed developments in 2017 in the good offices process and has concluded that significant progress has not been made towards arriving at a full agreement for the solution of the controversy.  Accordingly, the Secretary-General has fulfilled the responsibility that has fallen to him within the framework set by his predecessor in December 2016, and has chosen the International Court of Justice as the means to be used for the solution of the controversy.

In reaching this decision, the Secretary-General has also reached the conclusion that Guyana and Venezuela could benefit from the continued good offices of the United Nations through a complementary process established on the basis of the powers of the Secretary-General under the Charter of the United Nations.

The Secretary-General, in accordance with the principles of the United Nations, remains committed to accompany both States as they seek to overcome their differences regarding this border controversy.

For information media. Not an official record.