– reiterates legal process of ICJ should be respected
Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall on Thursday called on the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) to condemn Venezuela’s baseless claims to Guyanese territory.
The government official did so while addressing the 147th IPU General Assembly, which is taking place under the theme “Parliamentary Action for Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions” pursuant to Sustainable Development Goal 16 of the United Nations in Luanda, Angola.
“Much has been said about the war in Ukraine, the conflict in Gaza, and conflicts elsewhere. However, I wish to place on the record, a situation that is evolving in my country, Guyana. The Republic of Venezuela proposes to pass a referendum in that country on the 3rd of December, 2023, seeking to annex to Venezuela, more than two-thirds of Guyana’s sovereign territory.”
He said that this careless and illegal action was meant to support Venezuela’s illegitimate claim to the territory of Guyana—a dispute that was resolved by arbitration in 1899. According to him, Venezuela perseveres with this illegal conduct despite that this issue is pending between the two States at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) upon the direction of the UN Secretary-General.
Considering this, Nandlall added, “Actions like these not only undermine public institutions but engender conflicts and violate the very thematic fundamentals of this conference.”
In the circumstances, he called upon the IPU to condemn the actions of Venezuela and demand that Venezuela respect the legal process of the ICJ, stressing that “time is of the essence!”
Nandlall said that delegates from many countries have expressed their support for and solidarity with Guyana in respect of its border controversy with Venezuela and that efforts will be made to have these expressions of support formalised.
The Attorney General reasoned that the conference’s theme is highly appropriate for the modern world since international peace can only exist in an environment of justice. “Here, I speak of legal, social, and ecological justice,” he emphasised.
“Justice is guaranteed by the Rule of Law and it is strong institutions that ensure the maintenance of the Rule of Law. The alternative is anarchy, war and human degradation.”
At the national level, he noted, a strong legal framework, transparent and accountable governance, vibrant democratic institutions, a robust Parliament, an independent judicial system, and, at the global level, compliance with International Law and conventions – all concatenate as guardians of the Rule of Law and justice which are essential for universal human progress and social advancement.
“Nationally and internationally, public institutions must be adequately resourced, and those who man them must discharge their functions faithfully and fearlessly. It is only then that they will be able to attract and enjoy public trust and confidence. It is for this reason that we must ensure that those who are elected to form governments, sit in Parliament, and appointed to act in public institutions do so by processes that are lawful, democratic, and transparent,” Nandlall added.
Those who attempt to corrupt and pervert these processes are enemies of human progress and must be dealt with as condignly as possible, he added.
If these basic but fundamental requirements are met, the Senior Counsel said that these institutions shall ensure and guarantee respect for human rights and freedoms and will swiftly resolve disputes in accordance with law and fundamental justice.
“In short, they will secure the rule of law and deliver human progress. Nationally, the Government and Parliament alike must also ensure access to justice. Justice must not only be available to the rich and the powerful but must be equally available to the poor and the indigent. States must therefore strive not only to ensure the availability of institutions of justice far and wide but must also strive to ensure that citizens have the means to access these institutions. The justice system itself must not be cumbersome but simple to engage.”
Nandlall continued, “It must not be a cloistered virtue, but must suffer the scrutiny and fair criticism of the ordinary man. Globally, national States must comply with International Law, Agreements and Conventions, and must be bound by decisions and processes of international organisations such as the United Nations (UN) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ).”
The IPU is one of the oldest and largest associations of Parliaments in the world. It comprises 180 Parliaments across the globe. The Bahamas was accepted as the 180th member of the Union at the 147th meeting of the Assembly currently taking place.