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First National Research Conference in Belize Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 28 March 2018 00:00

Belize’s First National Research Conference ended on Thursday of last week at the University of Belize,  leaving in its wake a trail of important papers on Belize’s development agenda. In one of those presentations made by David Gibson from the Centre for Strategic Studies, Policy Analysis and Research CSSPAR, he posits that there is need to do a comparison analysis in international relations.

In such an analysis of the Guyana-Venezuela and Belize-Guatemala territorial dispute, David Gibson attempts to come up with various parallels. In doing so, David Gibson also comes up with a guide to “…support the review of Belize’s diplomatic strategy to end the dispute at this juncture of its existence.”

Belize’s leading researcher asserts “…it is prudent that Belizeans pay attention to re-developments in the Guyana-Venezuela territorial dispute where 51 years after signing a dispute resolution agreement, and 27 years of negotiation…”

In the case of Guyana and Venezuela, the latter claims over two thirds of Guyana’s 85,000 square miles. Such a difference in mode has also drawn in partners from the United Nations.

In a UN Press Release of 17th February 2017, it states as follows:

If, by the end of 2017, the Secretary-General concludes that no significant progress has been made towards arriving at a full agreement for the solution of the controversy, he will choose the International Court of Justice as the next means of settlement, unless the Government of Guyana and Venezuela jointly requests that he refrain from doing so.

Gibson notes that after years of increasing controversy, Venezuela repudiated the 1899 Arbitral Award in 1962 when the United Kingdom signaled the intention grant of Independence to British Guyana. Despite that Guyana proceeded to Independence on the 26th of May 1966.

By the end of December 2017, the UN Secretary General decided that the appropriate course for settlement of the controversy was for it to be referred to the International Court of Justice.

In view of Venezuela’s renewed claim, Guyana’s Foreign Ministry has internationalized its efforts with the Caribbean Community, the Commonwealth and the United Nations.

According to David Gibson, the importance of the current phase of the Guyana-Venezuela process lies in the lessons to be derived from Guyana’s diplomatic moves and those of the UN Secretary General, to maintain the momentum to achieve ICJ determination of the case.

From these comparisons, Gibson also notes the role of the United Kingdom in the Guyana pathway towards the ICJ. He records Ambassador Odeem Ishmael’s expression as follows:

“Regarding the British Government, it is an equal party to the General Agreement of 1966 aimed to find ‘satisfactory solutions for the practical settlement of the controversy’ resulting from the Venezuelan contention of the nullity of the arbitral award of 1899. Thus, the British government cannot abandon its responsibility to ensure the non-violability of Guyana’s territorial integrity and urging the UN Secretary General to more forward, under Article 33 of the UN Charter, to ask the International Court of Justice to make a ruling on the binding validity of the arbitral award of 1899.”

Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 March 2018 12:28