“The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela complies with informing the Venezuelan people and the international community that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Court of Justice publicly announced, on March 17, 2020, the indefinite suspension of all hearings and procedural activities and, as a consequence, it suspended the oral procedure on the question of its jurisdiction in the case of the unilateral lawsuit of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana against Venezuela, which was due to open on March 23, 2020, at 10 a.m.
However, with the pandemic still persistent, the Court decided to hold the hearing via videoconference to be held on June 30, 2020, from 2:00 p.m. at 5:00 p.m., which was communicated to the Venezuelan Chancellory on May 19, and published on its website on May 29.
This decision is unprecedented; it does not correspond to a new generally applicable practice; Until now it has not been applied to other cases that are before this important international judicial instance, be it older in time or in a situation of urgency or urgent need.
However, let us remember that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, consistent with its unavoidable historical position, officially delivered to the President of the Court, at a meeting held on June 18, 2018, with the delegation led by Vice President Delcy Rodríguez and Chancellor Jorge Arreaza, a communication from the President of the Republic, Nicolás Maduro Moros, in which it is stated that Guyana’s unilateral action manifestly lacks a legal basis to uphold the jurisdiction of the Court, for which reason Venezuela decided, in the exercise of its sovereignty, to not appear before the Court for said procedure.
Such legal and historical position was ratified by a letter from the Chancellor, dated April 12, 2019, registered on the 15th of that same month in the Registry of the Court, in which was confirmed the decision of not participating in the written procedure, and was reported that the Government would provide the Court with information for the purposes of assisting it in evacuating the duty imposed on it by Article 53.2 of its Statute.
Subsequently, on November 28, 2019, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, again consistent with its willingness to cooperate in good faith with the Court in the discernment of the question of its jurisdiction, sent in a timely manner, through a Memorandum and its Annex, the reasons that demonstrate the manifest lack of jurisdiction and the inadmissibility of the demand unilaterally presented by the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. Venezuela, consistent with that position, has not invoked the procedure for preliminary objections provided for in the Statute of the Court, within the framework of the procedure opened by it.
At the same time, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela informed the Court, on February 10, 2020, that, in accordance with the line of conduct followed up to that moment, it had no intention of appearing in the oral hearings scheduled for March 23, 2020, without prejudice to the possibility for Venezuela to submit new written observations to the Court, in the case that circumstances may come to advise so.
Thus, it has been concretized Venezuela’s clear position of not attending the Court on the basis that it lacks jurisdiction over the so-called “demand” of Guyana, in a procedure that is not accommodated in any provision of the Statute, due to the lack of consent from Venezuela.
Now, given the spreading of information that may cause doubts and uncertainty in relation to this irregular procedure, and in view of the effects of the unusual holding of telematic hearings in the Court, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which will refrain from appearing at said hearings, considers it necessary to keep the Venezuelan people informed on a matter of manifest public interest, which may involve their rights, as well as those of the Republic.
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, consistently, has not stopped expressing its regret at the course of action recently chosen by Guyana, which with its inadmissible claim before the Court, seeks to flee from the obligations that were agreed with Venezuela, in order to satisfy the object and purpose of the Geneva Agreement.
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela reaffirms its historical and legal position of not acknowledging the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice in this particular case, while reiterating to the Court the assurances of its highest appreciation and respect and, once again, it sincerely invites the sisterly Cooperative Republic of Guyana to renew the negotiation to which both nations are bound by the Geneva Agreement, the only international instrument specially subscribed to rule the territorial controversy over Guyana Essequibo, with the purpose of reaching a friendly, acceptable and satisfactory settlement for both Republics.”
Caracas, June 20, 2020