Statement On the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Signing of the Geneva Agreement

17 Feb

This year is the 50th Anniversary of Guyana’s Independence. It is not co-incidental that today is also the 50th Anniversary of the Geneva Agreement; for the Geneva Meeting represented the last failed effort from Caracas to prevent Guyana’s Independence.

The Geneva Agreement was concluded between Britain and Venezuela. Guiana only became a full party on attaining Independence. That is what the Agreement was all about – Guyana’s Independence. Until then, Venezuela had indulged in an argument with Britain to maintain the state of colonialism in British Guiana until the boundary with Venezuela was changed. The Geneva Agreement ended that un-Bolivarian argument. Guyana would be free with its borders intact. That is why the Geneva Agreement is worth commemorating. It is part of the founding instruments of Guyana’s freedom.

As part of the future, it specifically limited the nature of any ongoing discussion:

First – the only discussion thereafter under the Geneva Agreement would be about Venezuela’s contention that the 1899 Arbitral Award under the Treaty of Washington ‘was null and void’.

Second – that the forum of discussion would be a 4-year Mixed Commission between Guyana and Venezuela and if that failed to find agreement, such other machinery as the Parties agreed upon; and

Thirdly, failing such agreement, Venezuela’s argument about the nullity of the 1899 Award, would be settled by a means chosen by the United Nations Secretary General from processes taken from Article 33 of the UN Charter, ending with judicial settlement.

That is where we are now. The Secretary General is seized of the matter. He is aware of Guyana’s position and has put forward proposals to both parties in the context of his powers under the Geneva Agreement. Guyana is cooperating fully with the Secretary General in the context outlined. What the Geneva Agreement offers Venezuela is the opportunity to establish that the 117 year old Award – accepted, demarcated and respected by Venezuela for over 60 years is a nullity.

Not surprisingly, Venezuela has not been able to do so over the first 50 years of the Geneva Agreement’s life. What they are doing now is to try to change the Geneva Agreement itself. But that is not possible. The Geneva Agreement remains what it always was, the means to bring closure to Venezuela’s baseless contentions.

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