The International Court of Justice (ICJ) held its first virtual hearing on Tuesday, addressing a territorial dispute between Guyana and Venezuela. Guyana is arguing that the boundary between the nations was clarified by the Arbitral Award of 1899, whereas Venezuela called the award an “Anglo-Russian conspiracy.”
In taking the case to the ICJ, Guyana seeks to enforce the demarcation of the border with Venezuela. The area at issue is west of Guyana’s Essequibo River. The discovery of oil off the coast has sparked a debate between Guyana and Venezuela over the line in recent years.
Currently, the ICJ is considering whether it has jurisdiction to decide the case on the merits. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro wrote a letter to the court, which was read aloud. In the letter, Maduro commented because Venezuela does not accept the jurisdiction of the court, they will not be participating.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres referred the case to the ICJ in 2018. Tensions further escalated when Venezuela’s navy seized an oil research ship in 2013 and approached another in 2018.