|Map of Guyana with Essequibo region highlighted|
Monday, 7 March 2011
New mediator to assist in Guyana-Venezuela border dispute
Steps are being taken to try to resolve the long running territorial dispute between Guyana and Venezuela over the Essequibo River area. Professor Norman Girvan of the University of the West Indies, has been appointed as personal representative of Jose Miguel Insulza, the secretary-general of the Organization of American States (OAS).
Professor Girvan will serve as the OAS good officer, a role he also holds for the UN in the dispute, being appointed as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's representative in April 2010.
In his role as good officer, Professor Girvan will assist both Guyana and Venezuela in their search for a practical resolution to the dispute.
Caribbean leaders have welcomed the appointment. A communiqué from a meeting of the Conference of Caribbean Community (Caricom) government heads in Grenada over 25-26th February said leaders 'expressed satisfaction' with the appointment and the progress made to settle the matter. The leaders emphasised the need to strength relations between the nations, but at the same time re-affirmed their 'unequivocal' support for Guyana's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Venezuela and Guyana have a long-running dispute over the Essequibo region, which is rich in hydrocarbons and other minerals. The territory under debate covers some 159,500 square km, and includes the territory between the Cuyuni River to the west and the Essequibo River to the east.
The territory was disputed between the governments of Venezuela and Britain in the nineteenth century. An international arbitration tribunal in 1899 ruled largely in favour of the British, and established the boundary between Venezuela and British Guiana. Venezuela has contended that the award is null and void and Venezuelan maps produced since 1970 show the entire area from the eastern bank of the Essequibo to be in Venezuelan territory.
Britain and Venezuela signed the Geneva Treaty in 1966 which dedicated them to finding a practical, peaceful and satisfactory solution to the dispute. Guyana received independence soon after, and Venezuela at the time recognised the new State, but only recognised its territory as that east of the right bank of the Essequibo. Venezuela's claims amount to almost two-thirds of Guyana's territory.
The two countries agreed last year to restart talks aimed at settling the dispute. Guyana has said the dispute is discouraging oil companies from investing in the area.
Sources: Jamaica Observer, Taiwan News, Caricom.org
For more information, see the Menas Borders website, here.