GEORGETOWN, Guyana - The United Nations International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea based in Hamburg is expected to hand down its decision on the Guyana/Suriname border dispute this August, Foreign Minister Rudy Insanally said yesterday.
He told a press conference at the Foreign Service Institute in Georgetown it was anticipated that the decision would have been given during the first quarter or thereabout of this year, but due to some practical procedural matters which have to be finalised, there has been some delay in bringing conclusion to the matter.
Following the forceful eviction by Suriname of the oil exploration company Canada-based CGX in June 2000, claiming that the company had encroached Surinamese territorial waters in its offshore drilling, Guyana resorted to take the matter to the tribunal after bilateral and other negotiations failed to resolve the issue in a mutually satisfactorily way.
However, President Bharrat Jagdeo recalled that the issue of reaching an arrangement with its eastern neighbour to develop the hydrocarbon potential of the area in dispute was pending for 15 years despite patient negotiations to have the matter amicably resolved.
Guyana's legal team pursuing its case at the tribunal is being spearheaded by Sir Shridath Ramphal, a former Foreign Minister; and also comprises Mr. Paul Reichler of the Washington law firm of Foley Hoag and Dr. Payam Akhavan of Yale Law School.
During a visit to Guyana in August 2004 to brief the government of developments surrounding the legal proceedings of the case, Sir Shridath had expressed optimism of a favourable settle of the dispute.
He had also indicated that the team was working hard to prepare Guyana â€Ts case, and this involves consulting with a wide range of persons who are directly and indirectly connected to the case.
Sir Shridath also assured that the decision of the tribunal will be binding and final, ending uncertainty on a matter which, if allowed to continue, could be detrimental to the development of natural resources and the economic development of both countries.
The Government of Guyana officially informed its Surinamese counterpart on February 24, 2004 of its decision to pursue the matter at the level of the tribunal to give a binding decision on the maritime boundary between the two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) neighbours.
Meanwhile, Mr. Insanally responding to reports that the Venezuelan Foreign Minister had expressed his government's wish to resolve the Guyana/Venezuela border controversy, through bilateral negotiations, indicated that Guyana has to decide what is in its best interest but has committed itself by the Geneva agreement to have matter dealt with through the UN process. However, he said, Guyana is willing to listen to proposals by Venezuela.