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Guyana remains vigilant

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Russian warships en route to Caribbean ‘no direct threat’ – VP Jagdeo

In a recent announcement, Russian warships are slated to navigate towards the Caribbean this month, sparking concerns about the evolving ties between Russia and Venezuela. However, Guyana’s Vice President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, reassured the public that the presence of these vessels does not directly menace Guyana’s security.

Addressing reporters at a press conference held on Thursday (June 6, 2024) at the Office of the President in Georgetown, Vice President Jagdeo conveyed the consensus among some regional partners that the Russian naval activity poses no immediate threat to Guyana or its interests.

Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

He said, “The view shared by some of our partners is that it’s not something that we should worry about, that it doesn’t represent a direct threat to Guyana or Guyana’s interest. Nevertheless, we are vigilant and we are keeping this issue firmly on our policy radar.”

According to a report by Reuters, the Russian fleet is scheduled to engage in naval exercises in nations allied with Russia, notably Cuba and Venezuela.

Dr Jagdeo emphasized that President Dr. Irfaan Ali has been actively engaging with regional partners to address concerns arising from this development.

The specter of Venezuela’s assertive actions toward Guyana looms large in this context, particularly concerning the disputed Essequibo region, which Venezuela claims as its own. Last month, Jagdeo disclosed that Guyana had notified relevant authorities about ongoing Venezuelan aggressions, including troop buildups along the shared border.


Lawmakers in Venezuela allied with the government of President Nicolas Maduro on March 21, 2024 approved the creation of a new state in Guyana’s Essequibo despite an ongoing international court case.

Reuters reported that the approval is in line with rhetoric from Maduro about his country’s supposed right to govern the 160,000-square-km (62,000-square-mile) Essequibo region, but will have no immediate practical effect. 

Reuters also said that the law approving the new state, called Guayana Esequiba, will come into force as soon as it is published in the official gazette. It has been gazetted but no action has been taken.

Guyana used all peaceful means and avenues available to it to mount a protest against Venezuela’s action and rhetoric since then.

In December 2023, President Ali and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro endorsed the Argyle Declaration, committing to abstain from employing or intimating the use of force in the border dispute.


Guyana is currently before the ICJ on the substantive matter of the Guyana/ Venezuela border controversy.  Under the United Nations Charter and the Court’s own rules, final judgments from the ICJ both on jurisdiction and the merits will be legally binding on Guyana and Venezuela, whether or not Venezuela participates in the proceedings.

Guyana’s border with Venezuela was legally and internationally decided over 100 years ago by a tribunal of arbitration in 1899 in what was determined then to be a “full, perfect, and final settlement”.

After 67 years, prior to Guyana’s independence, Venezuela challenged the 1899 Arbitral Award. This led to the signing of the Geneva Agreement in 1966.  Efforts over more than half-a-century, including a four-year Mixed Commission (1966-1970), a twelve-year moratorium (1970-1982), a seven-year process of consultations on a means of settlement (1983-1990), and a twenty-seven-year Good Offices Process under the UN Secretary-General’s authority (1990-2017), all failed to end the border controversy.

The move to the ICJ was advanced after there was no success with a further attempt, using the United Nations’ Good Offices process, to resolve the matter of Venezuela’s renewed claim to Guyana’s territory, the Essequibo County.  Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in 2015, had charged that the signing of the 1966 Geneva Agreement rendered the 1899 Arbitral Award null and void.

On 30 January 2018, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, acting under the authority bestowed upon him by the Geneva Agreement, chose adjudication by the ICJ as the means for resolving the controversy with finality. In taking his decision, the Secretary-General was exercising the power vested in him in the 1966 Geneva Agreement between Guyana, Venezuela and the United Kingdom to decide how the controversy should be settled.

Guyana commenced proceedings before the Court on 29 March 2018 in accordance with the Secretary-General’s decision.


Guyana is seeking to obtain from the Court a final and binding judgment that confirms that the 1899 Arbitral Award, which established the location of the land boundary between then-British Guiana and Venezuela, remains valid and binding, and that Guyana’s Essequibo region belongs to Guyana, and not Venezuela.

Venezuela has, so far, participated in the ICJ proceedings, despite claiming that it does not recognise the Court.

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