THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The United Nations Supreme Court on Friday ordered Venezuela not to take any action that would change Guyana’s control over a disputed region, but did not specifically prevent it from holding a referendum Sunday on the future of the region.
Guyana had asked the International Court of Justice to order a halt to the planned referendum. The court order did not mention the vote, but ruled that Venezuela must “refrain from taking any action that would modify the situation currently prevailing” in the disputed Essequibo region, which makes up about two-thirds of Guyana’s area.
The legally binding ruling remains in place until the court considers the case brought by Guyana against Venezuela over the future of the region.
While the order itself did not mention the referendum, the chief justice, Joan Donoghue, referred to it when she set out the reasons for the order.
It said Venezuela’s “expressed willingness to take action with respect to the disputed territory in these proceedings at any time after the referendum” showed that there was “a real and imminent risk of irreparable harm to Guyana’s reasonable right before the court issues its final ruling.” resolution.”
However, the Venezuelan government interpreted the ruling as a victory, saying in a statement issued by the Ministry of Communications and Information that the court had “rejected” Guyana’s request.
Venezuela does not recognize the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice in the decades-long dispute over the Essequibo region and is expected to do so. Go ahead with the referendum.
In urgent hearings in November, Guyana’s lawyers said the vote was intended to pave the way for Venezuela’s annexation of the Essequibo region, an area larger than Greece and rich in oil and minerals. They called on the International Court to stop the referendum in its current form.
But Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez defiantly told the court: “ Nothing will prevent the referendum Scheduled for December 3.
Venezuela has long considered Essequibo its own because the region was within its borders during the Spanish colonial period, and has long disputed the borders decided by international arbitrators in 1899, when Guyana was still a British colony.
President Nicolas Maduro and his allies are encouraging voters to answer “yes” to all questions in Sunday’s referendum, one of which proposes creating a Venezuelan state in Essequibo province and granting Venezuelan citizenship to current and future residents of the region.
After years of fruitless mediation, Guyana approached the international court in 2018, asking judges to rule that the 1899 Boundaries Resolution was valid and binding. Venezuela says the 1966 agreement to resolve the dispute effectively invalidated the original arbitration.
The court ruled that the case was admissible and had jurisdiction, but it was expected to take years to reach a final decision. Meanwhile, Guyana wants to stop the referendum in its current form.
“The collective decision required here involves nothing less than the annexation of the disputed territories in this case. “This is a typical example of annexation,” Paul Richler, the American lawyer representing Guyana, told judges at hearings last month.
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