What is the Guyana-Venezuela Border Dispute?

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What is the Guyana-Venezuela Border Dispute? Blog Image


Judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) recently ruled they had jurisdiction over a long-running border dispute between Guyana and Venezuela.

About Guyana-Venezuela Border Dispute:

  • 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:
    • 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 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, which has its seat in The Hague,is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. 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: World Court says it can rule on Guyana-Venezuela border dispute