Speeches and other documents by the Secretary General


1 de noviembre de 2023 - Washington, DC

Honorable Prime Minister Mark Phillips,

We highly value your message of peace and respect to international law. This is said in every corner of the Hall of the Americas. It is and should always be the motto and the main purpose of this Organization. We cannot indulge any threat to peace in the region.

We have listened to the message of peace of the Prime Minister, and we expect Venezuela to do the same, and to stop provocations; to stop intimidation; and to stop the concentration of military forces in the border.

There should be no ambiguity concerning the facts of Venezuela’s contention with Guyana, and I wish to clear that the October 3rd, 1899 Arbitral Award, which has determined the boundaries between The Co-operative Republic of Guyana and The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, continues to be the legally-binding instrument that remains in effect today, while yet a decision is impending at the International Court of Justice to peacefully settle Venezuela’s boundary dispute with Guyana.

There has been no suspension or nullity of the aforementioned 1899 Arbitral Award while both countries await the ICJ’s decision, and therefore respect for Guyana’s territorial integrity and sovereign rights must be exercised by Venezuela.

While the OAS supports all efforts that promote dialogue, we have to acknowledge that these efforts have been done before between Guyana and Venezuela, and unfortunately have not been successful. It had been done for over 20 years.

Specifically, “In the Geneva Agreement of 1966, Guyana and Venezuela conferred upon the UN 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 UN Secretary-General is to choose another means of settlement.”

Let us be reminded that Nicolás Maduro asked the now-former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2015 for UN Mediation to settle his government’s ongoing border dispute with Guyana . For several years before, but specifically since 1990, both countries engaged in dialogue within the framework of the UN Good Offices Process entrusted to the Secretary-General under the Geneva Agreement of 1966, but there was no significant progress, as the engagement did not reap solutions to resolve the controversy that Venezuela had with Guyana . On September 27, 2015, Venezuela and Guyana agreed to allow a UN commission to mediate the ongoing border controversy. At all times, Guyana has wanted to settle the matter before the Court.

Subsequently, the United Nations announced on December 16th, 2016, that if Venezuela and Guyana fail to settle their differences concerning the Essequibo region, within a year, thus by the end of 2017, then the UN Secretary-General, per his determination and in line with the UN Charter, will refer the matter to the International Court of Justice, “unless the Governments of Guyana and Venezuela jointly request that he refrain from doing so” . The first such formal meeting within the UN Mediation framework of the Good Offices mandate entrusted to the Secretary-General under the Geneva Agreement of 1966 occurred in October 2017 and continued in November 2017 .

As Guyana and Venezuela could not settle the matter outside of the juridical process, UN Secretary-General António Guterres referred both countries to settle the matter at the International Court of Justice. Guyana submitted its application to the International Court of Justice in March 2018, and before the Court proceeded to review the merits of the case, the Court first established in December 2020 that the ICJ has res judicata to adjudicate the boundary dispute that seeks to “to confirm the legal validity and binding effect of the Award regarding the Boundary between the Colony of British Guiana and the United States of Venezuela, of 3 October 1899” . As of today, this case is actively before the Court to peacefully settle the matter.

At all times, CARICOM has been fervent in their resounding support for Guyana and “remained unwavering in its determination to preserve Guyana’s territorial integrity.” In July 2016, recognizing that any discord in the Caribbean region affects not only one, but all, the “Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have taken a strong position in support of a juridical settlement for the peaceful resolution of the long standing claim on Guyana’s territory by Venezuela.”

And on September 22, 2023 and October 25, 2023, CARICOM further expressed its hope “that Venezuela will engage fully in the process before the International Court of Justice” as “the Court’s final decision will ensure a resolution that is peaceful, equitable and in accordance with international law.”

Therefore, it is disingenuous for the regime in Venezuela to call on CARICOM last month to facilitate talks between itself and Guyana, when the matter is presently before the courts . While parties can decide to settle matters outside of Court, there is a plethora of evidence that suggests that such a settlement outside of the juridical process will not be forthcoming after several years of failed negotiations between Venezuela and Guyana.

Guyana has made its position clear: the border dispute will be settled at the ICJ, and whatever the outcome of the Court’s decision will be, it will be respected and enforced.

Thus, it is my utmost belief that this request by the regime of Venezuela to suggest that CARICOM be the mediator in this ongoing border controversary is intentionally divisive and does not come in good faith, as it seeks to undermine CARICOM’s unity in its defense for Guyana’s sovereign rights and respect for international law.

However, if there is anything that I am certain of is that the Caribbean constituency, as it has been said today, remains united in the face of this territorial threat.

We ask why the Venezuelan regime is acting so desperately in its attempt to annex foreign territory, which is an action of extreme consequence due to its illegality, when it has sufficient issues to prioritize and rectify for the preservation of its own people.

The Venezuelan regime’s planned December 3, 2023 referendum contains five questions that threaten Guyana’s peace and security in the country and that of its neighbors. In further proof of the Venezuelan regime’s undermining attempts to breach international law, the referendum seeks to avoid the ICJ’s determination to settle the matter peacefully and equitably, and unilaterally attempts to make null and void the citizenship of Guyanese who rightly have existed in the Essequibo region.

One of the questions approved by the Venezuelan regime’s electoral council reads: “Do you agree with the creation of the Guayana Esequiba State and the development of an accelerated plan for the comprehensive care of the current and future population of that territory that includes, among others, the granting of citizenship and Venezuelan identity card in accordance with the Geneva Agreement and international law, consequently incorporating said state on the map of Venezuelan territory?”

There is no evidence to indicate or suggest that the indigenous communities in the Essequibo region want anything to do with Venezuelan citizenship. To impose such a thing is identity theft, and borderline human trafficking due to forced displacement of a people from their place of origin.

The OAS General Secretariat and myself, as Secretary General, have “condemned this improper use of a referendum because it is illegal, according to the 1966 Geneva Agreement, and because similar misuses of this instrument have served as a pretext in the recent past to try to justify the worst actions between States, including crimes of aggression.”

The initiator of this territorial dispute is Venezuela, and at all times Venezuela has issued spurious and offensive claims against Guyana to suit a farcical and false narrative to discredit the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award. There is no coincidence that the propaganda machine has ramped up its efforts to discredit the 1899 Arbitral Award once oil resources were discovered in Guyana in 2015.

“The General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) reiterates that Venezuela and Guyana share the responsibility of resolving their dispute in the spirit of good neighborliness and in accordance with international law and the Geneva Agreement to seek peaceful solutions to the territorial dispute.”

Furthermore, the OAS General Secretariat supports the Co-Operative Republic of Guyana on its October 30th, 2023 filing of a request to the International Court of Justice for provisional measures in light of the Venezuela’s unilateral attempt.

The Venezuelan campaign efforts being promoted by members of the Venezuelan regime come with the slogan “5 times yes”. But we profoundly reject this referendum.

Additionally, “the OAS General Secretariat continues to support the Co-operative Republic of Guyana’s sovereign right to practice its franchise on its established and appurtenant maritime area, in accordance with international law and the principles of the United Nations.”

In compliance with Article 21 of the Charter of the Organization of American States, which stipulates “The territory of a State is inviolable; it may not be the object, even temporarily, of military occupation or of other measures of force taken by another State, directly or indirectly, on any grounds”, the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States objects to Venezuela’s encroachment on Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial rights through intimidatory and unfounded statements and actions by its government officials that fail to respect international conventions and the 1899 Arbitral Award, for which the latter is presently being adjudicated before the International Court of Justice.

We respectfully request that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela cooperate with the juridical process to settle the border controversy peacefully, equitably and within the parameters of international law.

Se ha dicho; por ejemplo, que los intereses son de compañías extranjeras, se sabe que eso no es cierto. Mucho, mucho tiempo antes, cuando el territorio del Esequibo no atraía la intervención de inversores, cuando el mismo era solo territorio, ya Guyana tenía muy claro que ése era su territorio y que de ahí dependía su integridad territorial.

El lenguaje usado en estos días por Venezuela es preocupante, no solo respecto al referéndum, sino también sobre sus referencias a la migración venezolana y a las fuerzas armadas desplegadas en la frontera.

La Corte Internacional de Justicia reafirmó su jurisdicción. Es prioritario entonces para la comunidad internacional preservar la paz hasta que haya una decisión de la Corte Internacional de Justicia.

Cualquier discurso de provocaciones, intentando decir que es Guyana quien provoca, cuando claramente eso sería contrario a los intereses de Guyana, que sostiene la fuerte posición de esperar el resultado de la decisión de la Corte Internacional de Justicia en paz. Venezuela debe actuar con la misma madurez, esperar en paz la decisión de la Corte Internacional de Justicia.

Todos debemos aceptar la jurisdicción de la Corte Internacional de Justicia una vez que ella la reclama, eso debe ser absolutamente respetado, su jurisdicción es privativa y no pueden ni deben aceptarse provocaciones en este marco. No pueden aceptarse concentración de tropas en la frontera en este marco.

El régimen debe respetar los principios de paz y buena fe, debe evitar cualquier confusión y debe evitar cualquier lenguaje lesivo como ha venido ocurriendo

Gracias señor Presidente