Guyana's legal team, currently analysing Suriname's counter-memorial to the International Tribunal on the Laws of the Sea (ITCLOS) in the case of the Guyana-Suriname Maritime Boundary Dispute, is to visit Guyana during the first week of January.
Meanwhile, there is hope that the border dispute between Guyana and Suriname, which came to a head when a Surinamese military gunboat forcibly evicted a CGX oil rig from Guyana 's waters in June 2000, could be resolved at the ITLOS this year.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rudy Insanally, at his end-of-year press conference held at the Foreign Service Institute yesterday said during the visit, the legal team headed by Guyanese Sir Sridath Ramphal would be looking at the implications and the nature of Guyana 's response. Insanally said the response would have to be submitted to the International Court of Justice at The Hague where a decision would be taken on whether there was merit in the case going forward to the ITLOS for hearing and award. He said all indications at this time, pointed to a conclusion of the case this coming year.
Guyana submitted its memorial on February 22 this year in a bid to resolve the issue of its maritime boundary to allow for the exploitation of its natural resources. Proceedings started on February 24 last year when Guyana submitted its Statement of Claim to the International Tribunal under the UN Law of the Sea Convention. Guyana had tried in vain to reach agreement with Suriname on joint exploration and exploitation arrangements. After proceedings to peacefully settle the dispute failed, Guyana invoked the provisions of Article 287 of the convention to obtain a legally binding settlement of its maritime border dispute with the neighbouring country.
Guyana 's memorial was submitted in spite of Suriname denying access to its historical records regarding the boundary issues in The Hague. After a formal complaint to the tribunal, Guyana was granted some limited access, Insanally said. However, Suriname was still denying Guyana access to some specific records. He said though that the International Court of Justice had intervened on some aspects and the issue of access was still an ongoing matter.
Guyana 's legal team also includes attorneys-at-law Paul Reichler, Kathleen Hamann, Galo Correra and Payam Akhavan.
Guyana has until August next year to submit its rejoinder but this may be done earlier. Though there is no time limit on the hearings, it is expected that the arbitral tribunal would pronounce on its award within six months of the closing of the hearings.