What is the Guyana-Venezuela Conflict?

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What is the Guyana-Venezuela Conflict? Blog Image


A British warship arrived in Guyana recently amid rising tensions from a border dispute between the former British colony and Venezuela.

About Guyana-Venezuela Conflict

  • History:
    • The land boundary between Guyana and Venezuela has been disputed since its colonial inception between British and Spanish powers in South America. 
    • In the 1840s, the British government had the border unilaterally surveyed, but the proposed line encroached on Venezuelan territorial claims.
    • The boundary has since been arbitrated (1899) and bilaterally agreed upon following demarcation (1905), but remains in conflict.
    • While the British line, accepted by Guyana, is the current de facto boundary, Venezuela maintains a historic claim to all territory currently administered by Guyana west of the Essequibo River.
    • Venezuelan contents that the Arbitral Award of 1899 about the frontier between British Guiana and Venezuela is null and void. 
  • Disputed Area:
    • The bone of contention lies in the densely forested Essequibo region of Guyana, which Venezuela claims as its territory. 
    • Venezuela’s claim along the Essequibo River extends for 1,034 kilometers before reaching Brazilian territory. 
    • At stake is approximately 142,795 square kilometers that is currently administered by Guyana.
    • Offshore, the disputed land territory is a maritime space that was recently discovered to be rich in hydrocarbon resources, upping the stakes of the land boundary dispute.
  • Current Status:
    • Guyana submitted the dispute to the International Court of Justice in 2018.
    • Despite Venezuela’s withdrawal from the case, proceedings are currently ongoing.

Q1) What is the International Court of Justice (ICJ)?

The International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court, is the main judicial organ of the UN. It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began work in April 1946. The seat of the Court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands).The Court’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies.

Source: A British warship arrives in Guyana as tensions heat up in border dispute with Venezuela