By Article IV(1) of the Geneva Agreement of 1966, the Governments of Guyana and Venezuela committed to choosing one of the means of peaceful settlement provided for by article 33 of the Charter of the United Nations (UN), if the Mixed Commission did not arrive at a full agreement for the settlement of the controversy within four years. Judicial settlement was one of those means under article 33. But the part of the article providing for the parties to choose the means of settlement is qualified by Article V. It provides that they are to refer the decision of the means of settlement to an “appropriate international organ on which they both agree,” but failing agreement “to the Secretary General of the United Nations.”
After the conclusion of the mandate of the Mixed Commission, the Governments of Guyana, Venezuela and the United Kingdom entered into an agreement known as the Port of Spain Protocol in June, 1970, which suspended the operation of Article IV of the Geneva Agreement for twelve years. This meant effectively that the formal search under Article IV for a resolution of the controversy was suspended for the period. Guyana and Venezuela undertook to “explore all possibilities of better understanding between them.”
In his recent interview on Venezuela, former president Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo spoke about his administration’s approach to resolving the border controversy between Guyana and Venezuela. He said that the PPP administration had considered five options for resolving it but he mentioned only one, namely, an outlet to the Atlantic for Venezuela.
Mr. Jadgeo questioned the ‘juridical’ route being proposed by the government on the ground that it may not materialize because of the need for Venezuela’s consent. In addition, he warned that if the parties accepted a judicial solution, the involvement of the United Nations in the process might somehow be impaired. He urged that Guyana ought not to take a position that would have such a consequence because it was vital, in his view, that the Secretary General should remain involved in the process. “I am not questioning the juridical route, I am just saying that it is very important to keep the UN involved in the process,” he advised. This was repeated several times in the interview. But Mr. Jagdeo never mentioned, contrary to the dangers he now perceives and to his current advice, that he proposed to President Chavez as far back as July 21, 2010, at their meeting in Caracas that serious consideration should be given to having the controversy resolved legally through the International Court of Justice(“ICJ”).