The Stabroek News editorial of December 31, 2017 simply entitled ’Border Controversy’, seeks to remind readers of the challenges posed by an impending decision by the United Nations Secretary- General. The paper anticipates an early choice by the Secretary General regarding a means of peacefully resolving the controversy arising from Venezuela’s contention that the 1899 Arbitral Award is null and void. The Editor suggests that Guyanese are waiting the ‘big news’ with bated breath. And well they might, for this is a very important decision with the potential to put Guyana on a path that will enable us to attract investment — local and foreign — in quantities significant enough to permit the exploitation of our natural resources – not just our oil — so as to have a dramatic impact on our economic and social wellbeing in the near and foreseeable future.
Stabroek News has, over the years, demonstrated that it is one of the few agencies, outside of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with a clear grasp of the intricacies of the issues surrounding this controversy and one is often forced to admire the quality of the analysis and deftness of language employed in their pieces. It also recognizes that the list of options available to the UN Secretary-General includes the referral to the International Court of Justice, the inclusion of which was approved by Venezuela in 1966. Contrary to a recent suggestion by a rival newspaper, the UN Secretary-General does have the power to refer this matter to the ICJ. What is more, his letter of December 16th explicitly acknowledges this. That referral does not require Venezuela’s approval beyond that given in the Geneva Agreement of 1966 and acknowledged by their then representative.
Stabroek News is right in calling for more information for the people of Guyana. We have involved the Opposition in our preparations during this final year of a good offices process with an enhanced mediation mandate, but rules of confidentiality have bound us beyond that to this stage. 2017 is over. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs looks forward to sharing more widely the path ahead once we have received the decision of the UN Secretary-General, which we expect shortly.
The Ministry takes this opportunity to extend best wishes to the people of Guyana for a prosperous and productive New Year.