MOSCOW, November 16. /TASS/. Venezuela is against the abuse of international judicial institutions' powers to ‘attack’ the countries of the world, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Yvan Gil Pinto said at a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow.
"We are against the way international judicial institutions have been used recently to attack countries. And this applies not only to the International Criminal Court," he said in response to a question from reporters about the legality of a recent decision by a French court to issue an arrest warrant for Syrian President Bashar Assad on charges of using chemical weapons.
In particular, the top diplomat cited the example of the UN's International Court of Justice, which, according to the minister, "is also abusing its power in the case of Venezuela." "Our vice president [Delcy Rodriguez] was at a meeting yesterday about [the disputed territory of] Guayana Esequiba. Guyana is trying to use the International Court of Justice to prevent the Venezuelan people from expressing their will in the December 3 referendum on the ownership of Esequiba," the foreign minister added. He said that Guyana's actions allegedly show how "international judicial institutions are abused instead of protecting the rights of peoples."
The conflict between Venezuela and Guyana over ownership of the 159,500-square-kilometer territory called Guayana Esequiba has been going on for years. The area makes up more than two-thirds of Guyana and is home to 283,000 people. The dispute escalated with the discovery of oil fields containing at least 10 billion barrels of oil in 2015, and Guyana's granting of a concession to ExxonMobil to extract oil from the shelf, whose boundaries are undefined. In September, seven other multinational companies, including China National Offshore Oil Corporation, QatarEnergy and TotalEnergies, were granted offshore exploration licenses by the Guyanese government.
In April, the UN's International Court of Justice ruled that Guyana's claim against Venezuela for the demarcation of the border between the two countries, based on an 1899 Paris arbitration ruling that transferred 90% of the disputed territory to its colony of British Guyana under pressure from the UK, was admissible. Venezuela, which considers Guayana Esequiba its legitimate territory, believes that the conflict is not subject to the jurisdiction of the UN International Court of Justice and insists on the demarcation of the borders through direct negotiations with Guyana, as provided for in the 1966 Geneva Agreement.