Statement by the Commonwealth Secretary-General on the ICJ process regarding the Guyana-Venezuela border dispute

01 December 2023
commonwealth logo news articles

Commenting on the recent decision by the International Court of Justice, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, said:

The Commonwealth notes the 1st December 2023 decision of the International Court of Justice regarding the Guyana-Venezuela border dispute in the Guyana-Essequibo region.

The International Court of Justice stated unanimously: “Pending a final decision in the case, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela shall refrain from taking any action, which would modify the situation that currently prevails in the territory in dispute, whereby the Cooperative Republic of Guyana administers and exercises control over that area.”

Ahead of the planned referendum in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on the 3rd of December, the Commonwealth offers its full support to the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, a valued Commonwealth member, and is encouraged by the support also shown by our brothers and sisters in CARICOM, and by many other states.

While all states are encouraged to consult their citizenry, the Commonwealth notes with deep concern that the planned referendum on 3rd December in Venezuela will challenge the ICJ’s jurisdiction, propose a formal annexation of the Essequibo territory, give Venezuelan citizenship and national identity cards to nationals of Guyana in the region under dispute, potentially be a license to violate the territorial integrity of Guyana and constitute an aggravation of the dispute which the 1st December 2023 decision of the ICJ discourages.

The Commonwealth reiterates our collective faith in due process, respect for national territorial sovereignty, international law, global order, peace and security and cordial international relations in the Caribbean and the Latin American region.

The Commonwealth calls on all members of the United Nations to encourage the parties to respect the integrity, sanctity and binding nature of the decisions of the ICJ in this matter and the provisional measures under Article 41 of the Statute of the ICJ that have binding effect and create international legal obligations for parties.

The Commonwealth unequivocally condemns any action likely to breach the peace in the region.

The Commonwealth encourages and offers its support to both governments to resolve the matter in a diplomatic and peaceful manner for the good of the people of the region and for the present and future generations of both states. May peace, truth and justice prevail.

Read the previous statement on the Guyana-Venezuela border dispute

Media contact

  • Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
  • +44 20 7747 6476   |   E-mail