Lawyers, other representatives, expert(s), tribunal’s secretary

Judgment - Jurisdiction of the Court

2.

In accordance with Article 40, paragraph 2, of the Statute, the Registrar immediately communicated the Application to the Government of Venezuela. He also notified the Secretary-General of the United Nations of the filing of the Application by Guyana.

3.
In addition, by letter dated 3 July 2018, the Registrar informed all Member States of the United Nations of the filing of the Application.
4.

Pursuant to Article 40, paragraph 3, of the Statute, the Registrar notified the Member States of the United Nations, through the Secretary-General, of the filing of the Application, by transmission of the printed bilingual text of that document.

6.

By an Order of 19 June 2018, the Court held, pursuant to Article 79, paragraph 2, of the Rules of Court of 14 April 1978 as amended on 1 February 2001, that in the circumstances of the case, it was necessary first of all to resolve the question of its jurisdiction, and that this question should accordingly be separately determined before any proceedings on the merits. To that end, the Court decided that the written pleadings should first address the question of jurisdiction, and fixed 19 November 2018 and 18 April 2019 as the respective time-limits for the filing of a Memorial by Guyana and a Counter-Memorial by Venezuela. Guyana filed its Memorial within the time-limit prescribed.

7.

The Court did not include upon the Bench a judge of the nationality of either of the Parties. Guyana proceeded to exercise the right conferred upon it by Article 31, paragraph 3, of the Statute to choose a judge ad hoc to sit in the case; it chose Ms Hilary Charlesworth. Following its decision not to participate in the proceedings (see paragraph 5 above), Venezuela, for its part, did not, at this stage, exercise its right to choose a judge ad hoc to sit in the case.

9.
By a letter of 24 April 2019, Guyana indicated that it was of the opinion that, in the absence of a counter-memorial by Venezuela, the written phase of the proceedings should "be considered closed" and oral proceedings "should be scheduled as soon as possible".
10.
By letters of 23 September 2019, the Parties were informed that the hearings on the question of the Court's jurisdiction would take place from 23 to 27 March 2020.
11.
By a letter of 15 October 2019, the Registrar, referring to Venezuela's letter of 12 April 2019, informed the latter that, should it still intend to provide information to assist the Court, it should do so by 28 November 2019 at the latest.
14.
By letters of 16 March 2020, the Parties were informed that, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Court had decided to postpone the oral proceedings to a later date. On 19 May 2020, the Parties were further informed that the oral proceedings would take place by video link on 30 June 2020.
15.

Pursuant to Article 53, paragraph 2, of its Rules, the Court, after ascertaining the views of the Parties, decided that copies of the Memorial of Guyana and documents annexed thereto would be made accessible to the public on the opening of the oral proceedings. It also decided, in light of the absence of objection by the Parties, that the Memorandum submitted on 28 November 2019 by Venezuela would be made public at the same time.

16.
A public hearing on the question of the jurisdiction of the Court was held by video link on 30 June 2020, at which the Court heard the oral arguments of:

For Guyana: Sir Shridath Ramphal,

Mr. Payam Akhavan,

Mr. Paul Reichler,

Mr. Philippe Sands,

Mr. Alain Pellet.

18.

By a letter of 24 July 2020, Venezuela transmitted written comments on the arguments presented by Guyana at the hearing of 30 June 2020, indicating that the comments were submitted "[i]n the framework of the assistance that Venezuela has offered to provide to the Court in the performance of its duty set forth in Article 53.2 of its Statute". By a letter of 3 August 2020, Guyana provided its views on this communication from Venezuela.

20.
In the written proceedings, the following submissions were presented on behalf of the Government of Guyana in its Memorial on the question of the jurisdiction of the Court:

"For these reasons, Guyana respectfully requests the Court:

1. to find that it has jurisdiction to hear the claims presented by Guyana, and that these claims are admissible; and

2. to proceed to the merits of the case."

21.

At the oral proceedings, the following submissions were presented on behalf of the Government of Guyana at the hearing of 30 June 2020:

"On the basis of its Application of 29 March 2018, its Memorial of 19 November 2018, and its oral pleadings, Guyana respectfully requests the Court:

1. To find that it has jurisdiction to hear the claims presented by Guyana, and that these claims are admissible; and

2. To proceed to the merits of the case."

22.
Since the Government of Venezuela filed no pleadings and did not appear at the oral proceedings, no formal submissions were presented by that Government. However, it is clear from the correspondence and the Memorandum received from Venezuela that it contends that the Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the case.

I. INTRODUCTION

23.
The present case concerns a dispute between Guyana and Venezuela that has arisen as a result of the latter's contention that the Arbitral Award of 3 October 1899 regarding the boundary between the two Parties (hereinafter the "1899 Award" or the "Award") is null and void.
24.

The Court wishes first of all to express its regret at the decision taken by Venezuela not to participate in the proceedings before it, as set out in the above-mentioned letters of 18 June 2018, 12 April 2019 and 10 February 2020 (see paragraphs 5, 8 and 13 above). In this regard, it recalls that, under Article 53 of its Statute, "[w]henever one of the parties does not appear before the Court, or fails to defend its case, the other party may call upon the Court to decide in favour of its claim" and that "[t]he Court must, before doing so, satisfy itself, not only that it has jurisdiction in accordance with Articles 36 and 37, but also that the claim is well founded in fact and law".

25.
The non-appearance of a party obviously has a negative impact on the sound administration of justice (Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America), Merits, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1986, p. 23, para. 27, referring, inter alia, to Nuclear Tests (Australia v. France), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1974, p. 257, para. 15; Fisheries Jurisdiction (Federal Republic of Germany v. Iceland), Jurisdiction of the Court, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1973, p. 54, para. 13). In particular, the non-appearing party forfeits the opportunity to submit evidence and arguments in support of its own case and to counter the allegations of its opponent. For this reason, the Court does not have the assistance it might have derived from this information, yet it must nevertheless proceed and make any necessary findings in the case.
26.

The Court emphasizes that the non-participation of a party in the proceedings at any stage of the case cannot, in any circumstances, affect the validity of its judgment (Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America), Merits, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1986, p. 23, para. 27). A judgment on jurisdiction, as on the merits, is final and binding on the parties under Articles 59 and 60 of the Statute (ibid., p. 24, para. 27; Corfu Channel (United Kingdom v. Albania), Assessment of Amount of Compensation, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1949, p. 248). Should the examination of the present case extend beyond the current phase, Venezuela, which remains a Party to the proceedings, will be able, if it so wishes, to appear before the Court to present its arguments (Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America), Merits, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1986, pp. 142-143, para. 284).

27.

The intention of Article 53 of the Statute is that in a case of non-appearance neither party should be placed at a disadvantage (ibid., p. 26, para. 31). While there is no question of a judgment automatically in favour of the party appearing (ibid., p. 24, para. 28), the party which declines to appear cannot be permitted to profit from its absence (ibid., p. 26, para. 31).

28.

Though formally absent from the proceedings, non-appearing parties sometimes submit to the Court letters and documents in ways and by means not contemplated by its Rules (ibid., p. 25, para. 31). In this instance, Venezuela sent a Memorandum to the Court (see paragraph 12 above). It is valuable for the Court to know the views of both parties in whatever form those views may have been expressed (ibid., p. 25, para. 31). The Court will therefore take account of Venezuela's Memorandum to the extent that it finds it appropriate in discharging its duty, under Article 53 of the Statute, to satisfy itself as to its jurisdiction to entertain the Application (Aegean Sea Continental Shelf (Greece v. Turkey), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1978, p. 7, para. 14).

II. HISTORICAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

29.
Located in the north-east of South America, Guyana is bordered by Venezuela to the west. At the time the present dispute arose, Guyana was still a British colony, known as British Guiana. It gained independence from the United Kingdom on 26 May 1966. The dispute between Guyana and Venezuela dates back to a series of events that took place during the second half of the nineteenth century.
30.
The Court will begin by relating in chronological order the relevant events pertaining to the dispute between the two States.

A. The Washington Treaty and the 1899 Award

31.
In the nineteenth century, the United Kingdom and Venezuela both claimed the territory comprising the area between the mouth of the Essequibo River in the east and the Orinoco River in the west.
32.
In the 1890s, the United States of America encouraged both parties to submit their territorial claims to binding arbitration. The exchanges between the United Kingdom and Venezuela eventually led to the signing in Washington of a treaty of arbitration entitled the "Treaty between Great Britain and the United States of Venezuela Respecting the Settlement of the Boundary between the Colony of British Guiana and the United States of Venezuela" (hereinafter the "Washington Treaty") on 2 February 1897.
33.
According to its preamble, the purpose of the Washington Treaty was to "provide for an amicable settlement of the question... concerning the boundary". Article I provided as follows:

"An Arbitral Tribunal shall be immediately appointed to determine the boundary-line between the Colony of British Guiana and the United States of Venezuela."

Other provisions set out the arrangements for the arbitration, including the constitution of the tribunal, the place of arbitration and the applicable rules. Finally, according to Article XIII of the Washington Treaty,

"[t]he High Contracting Parties engage[d] to consider the result of the proceedings of the Tribunal of Arbitration as a full, perfect, and final settlement of all the questions referred to the Arbitrators".

34.
The arbitral tribunal established under this Treaty rendered its Award on 3 October 1899. The 1899 Award granted the entire mouth of the Orinoco River and the land on either side to Venezuela; it granted to the United Kingdom the land to the east extending to the Essequibo River. The following year, a joint Anglo-Venezuelan commission was charged with demarcating the boundary established by the 1899 Award. The commission carried out that task between November 1900 and June 1904. On 10 January 1905, after the boundary had been demarcated, the British and Venezuelan commissioners produced an official boundary map and signed an agreement accepting, inter alia, that the co-ordinates of the points listed were correct.

B. Venezuela's repudiation of the 1899 Award and the search for a settlement of the dispute

35.
On 14 February 1962, Venezuela, through its Permanent Representative, informed the Secretary-General of the United Nations that it considered there to be a dispute between itself and the United Kingdom "concerning the demarcation of the frontier between Venezuela and British Guiana". In its letter to the Secretary-General, Venezuela stated as follows:

"The award was the result of a political transaction carried out behind Venezuela's back and sacrificing its legitimate rights. The frontier was demarcated arbitrarily, and no account was taken of the specific rules of the arbitral agreement or of the relevant principles of international law.

Venezuela cannot recognize an award made in such circumstances."

In a statement before the Fourth Committee of the United Nations General Assembly delivered shortly thereafter, on 22 February 1962, Venezuela reiterated its position.

36.
The Government of the United Kingdom, for its part, asserted on 13 November 1962, in a statement before the Fourth Committee, that "the Western boundary of British Guiana with Venezuela [had been] finally settled by the award which the arbitral tribunal announced on 3 October 1899", and that it could not "agree that there [could] be any dispute over the question settled by the award". The United Kingdom also stated that it was prepared to discuss with Venezuela, through diplomatic channels, arrangements for a tripartite examination of the documentary material relevant to the 1899 Award.
37.
On 16 November 1962, with the authorization of the representatives of the United Kingdom and Venezuela, the Chairman of the Fourth Committee declared that the Governments of the two States (the Government of the United Kingdom acting with the full concurrence of the Government of British Guiana) would examine the "documentary material" relating to the 1899 Award (hereinafter the "Tripartite Examination"). Experts appointed by the two Governments thus examined the archives of the United Kingdom in London and the Venezuelan archives in Caracas, searching for evidence relating to Venezuela's contention of nullity of the 1899 Award.
38.
The Tripartite Examination took place from 1963 to 1965. It was completed on 3 August 1965 with the exchange of the experts' reports. While Venezuela's experts continued to consider the Award to be null and void, the experts of the United Kingdom were of the view that there was no evidence to support that position.
39.
On 9 and 10 December 1965, the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the United Kingdom and Venezuela and the new Prime Minister of British Guiana met in London to discuss a settlement of the dispute. However, at the close of the meeting, each party maintained its position on the matter. While the representative of Venezuela asserted that any proposal "which did not recognise that Venezuela extended to the River Essequibo would be unacceptable", the representative of British Guiana rejected any proposal that would "concern itself with the substantive issues".

C. The signing of the 1966 Geneva Agreement

40.
Following the failure of the talks in London, the three delegations agreed to meet again in Geneva in February 1966. After two days of negotiations, they signed, on 17 February 1966, the Geneva Agreement, the English and Spanish texts of which are authoritative. In accordance with its Article VII, the Geneva Agreement entered into force on the same day that it was signed.
41.
The Geneva Agreement was approved by the Venezuelan National Congress on 13 April 1966. It was published as a White Paper in the United Kingdom, i.e. as a policy position paper presented by the Government, and approved by the House of Assembly of British Guiana. It was officially transmitted to the Secretary-General of the United Nations on 2 May 1966 and registered with the United Nations Secretariat on 5 May 1966 (United Nations, Treaty Series, Vol. 561, No. 8192, p. 322).
42.
On 26 May 1966, Guyana, having attained independence, became a party to the Geneva Agreement, alongside the Governments of the United Kingdom and Venezuela, in accordance with the provisions of Article VIII thereof.
44.
On 4 April 1966, by letters to the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the United Kingdom and Venezuela, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, U Thant, acknowledged receipt of the Geneva Agreement and stated as follows:

"I have taken note of the responsibilities which may fall to be discharged by the Secretary-General of the United Nations under Article IV (2) of the Agreement, and wish to inform you that I consider those responsibilities to be of a nature which may appropriately be discharged by the Secretary-General of the United Nations."

D. The implementation of the Geneva Agreement

1. The Mixed Commission (1966-1970)

45.
The Mixed Commission was established in 1966, pursuant to Articles I and II of the Geneva Agreement. During the Commission's mandate, representatives from Guyana and Venezuela met on several occasions.
46.
A difference of interpretation regarding the Commission's mandate came to light from the time its work began. In Guyana's view, the task of the Mixed Commission was to find a practical solution to the legal question raised by Venezuela's contention of the nullity of the Award. According to Venezuela, however, the Commission was tasked with seeking practical solutions to the territorial controversy.
47.
The discussions within the Mixed Commission took place against a backdrop of hostile actions which aggravated the controversy. Indeed, since the signature of the Geneva Agreement, both Parties have alleged multiple violations of their territorial sovereignty in the Essequibo region. The Mixed Commission reached the end of its mandate in 1970 without having arrived at a solution.

2. The 1970 Protocol of Port of Spain and the moratorium put in place

48.
Since no solution was identified through the Mixed Commission, it fell to Venezuela and Guyana, under Article IV of the Geneva Agreement, to choose one of the means of peaceful settlement provided for in Article 33 of the United Nations Charter. However, in view of the disagreements between the Parties, a moratorium on the dispute settlement process was adopted in a protocol to the Geneva Agreement (hereinafter the "Protocol of Port of Spain" or the "Protocol"), signed on 18 June 1970, the same day that the Mixed Commission delivered its final report. Article III of the Protocol provided for the operation of Article IV of the Geneva Agreement to be suspended so long as the Protocol remained in force. The Protocol was, pursuant to its Article V, to remain in force for an initial period of twelve years, which could be renewed thereafter. According to Article I of the Protocol, both States agreed to promote mutual trust and to improve understanding between themselves.
49.
In December 1981, Venezuela announced its intention to terminate the Protocol of Port of Spain. Consequently, the application of Article IV of the Geneva Agreement was resumed from 18 June 1982 in accordance with Article V, paragraph 3, of the Protocol.
52.
After the matter was referred to him by the Parties, the Secretary-General, Mr. Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, agreed by a letter of 31 March 1983 to undertake the responsibility conferred upon him under Article IV, paragraph 2, of the Geneva Agreement. Five months later, he sent the Under-Secretary-General for Special Political Affairs, Mr. Diego Cordovez, to Caracas and Georgetown in order to ascertain the positions of the Parties on the choice of the means of settlement of the controversy.
53.
Between 1984 and 1989, the Parties held regular meetings and discussions at the diplomatic and ministerial levels. In view of the information provided by Mr. Cordovez, in early 1990 the Secretary-General chose the good offices process as the appropriate means of settlement.

3. From the good offices process (1990-2014 and 2017) to the seisin of the Court

55.
In a letter to her Venezuelan counterpart dated 2 December 2014, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guyana observed that, after 25 years, the good offices process had not brought the Parties any closer to a resolution of the controversy. She stated that her Government was "reviewing the other options under Article 33 of the United Nations Charter, as provided for by the 1966 Geneva Agreement, that could serve to bring to an end the controversy". In response to that statement, on 29 December 2014, Venezuela invited the Government of Guyana to "agree, as soon as possible, [to] the designation of the Good Officer". On 8 June 2015, the Vice-President of Guyana asked the Secretary-General,

"within the context of [his] responsibility... and more specifically, [his] mandate under the Geneva Agreement of 1966, to determine a means of... settlement which[,] in [his] judgement, w[ould] bring a definitive and conclusive end... to the controversy".

In a letter dated 9 July 2015, the President of Venezuela asked the Secretary-General "to commence the process of appointing a Good Officer".

56.
In September 2015, during the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, held a meeting with the Heads of State of Guyana and Venezuela. Thereafter, on 12 November 2015, the Secretary-General issued a document entitled "The Way Forward", in which he informed the Parties that "[i]f a practical solution to the controversy [were] not found before the end of his tenure, [he] intend[ed] to initiate the process to obtain a final and binding decision from the International Court of Justice".
57.
In his statement of 16 December 2016, the Secretary-General said that he had decided to continue the good offices process for a further year, with a new Personal Representative with a strengthened mandate of mediation. He also announced that

"[i]f, by the end of 2017, the Secretary-General concludes that significant progress has not been made toward arriving at a full agreement for the solution of the controversy, he will choose the International Court of Justice as the next means of settlement, unless both parties jointly request that he refrain from doing so".

58.
The President of Venezuela, H.E. Mr. Nicolás Maduro Moros, replied to the Secretary-General in a letter of 17 December 2016, in which he underlined Venezuela's objection to "the intention... to recommend to the Parties that they resort to the Court", while at the same time stating its commitment to reaching a negotiated solution within the strict framework of the Geneva Agreement. In a letter dated 21 December 2016, the President of Guyana, H.E. Mr. David A. Granger, for his part, assured the President of Venezuela of his country's commitment

"to fulfilling the highest expectations of the 'Good Office' process in the coming twelve-month period in accordance with the decision of the Secretary-General, to conclude a full settlement of the controversy and, should it become necessary, to thereafter resolve it by recourse to the International Court of Justice".

He reaffirmed this position in a letter to the Secretary-General on 22 December 2016.

59.
After taking office on 1 January 2017, the new Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres, continued the good offices process for a final year, in conformity with his predecessor's decision. In this context, on 23 February 2017, he appointed Mr. Dag Nylander as his Personal Representative and gave him a strengthened mandate of mediation. Mr. Dag Nylander held several meetings and had a number of exchanges with the Parties. In letters dated 30 January 2018 to both Parties, the Secretary-General stated that he had "carefully analyzed the developments in the good offices process during the course of 2017" and announced:

"Consequently, I have fulfilled the responsibility that has fallen to me within the framework set by my predecessor and, significant progress not having been made toward arriving at a full agreement for the solution of the controversy, have chosen the International Court of Justice as the means that is now to be used for its solution."

60.

On 29 March 2018, Guyana filed its Application in the Registry of the Court (see paragraph 1 above).

III. INTERPRETATION OF THE GENEVA AGREEMENT

61.

As described in paragraph 43 above, the Geneva Agreement establishes a three-stage process for settling the controversy between the Parties. The first step, set out in Article I, consists in establishing a Mixed Commission "with the task of seeking satisfactory solutions for the practical settlement of the controversy" arising from Venezuela's contention that the 1899 Award is null and void. Should the Mixed Commission fail to secure a full agreement on the resolution of the controversy within four years of the conclusion of the Geneva Agreement, Article IV provides for two additional steps in the dispute settlement process. That provision reads as follows:

"(1) If, within a period of four years from the date of this Agreement, the Mixed Commission should not have arrived at a full agreement for the solution of the controversy it shall, in its final report, refer to the Government of Guyana and the Government of Venezuela any outstanding questions. Those Governments shall without delay choose one of the means of peaceful settlement provided in Article 33 of the Charter of the United Nations.

(2) If, within three months of receiving the final report, the Government of Guyana and the Government of Venezuela should not have reached agreement regarding the choice of one of the means of settlement provided in Article 33 of the Charter of the United Nations, they shall refer the decision as to the means of settlement to an appropriate international organ upon which they both agree or, failing agreement on this point, to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. If the means so chosen do not lead to a solution of the controversy, the said organ or, as the case may be, the Secretary-General of the United Nations shall choose another of the means stipulated in Article 33 of the Charter of the United Nations, and so on until the controversy has been resolved or until all the means of peaceful settlement there contemplated have been exhausted."

62.
According to Article 33 of the United Nations Charter:

"1. The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.

2. The Security Council shall, when it deems necessary, call upon the parties to settle their dispute by such means."

63.

As already noted (see paragraph 50 above), the Parties failed to reach agreement on the choice of one of the means of peaceful settlement set out in Article 33 of the Charter, as provided for by Article IV, paragraph 1, of the Geneva Agreement. They then proceeded to the next step and referred this decision to the Secretary-General of the United Nations (see paragraph 51 above), pursuant to Article IV, paragraph 2, of the Agreement. The Court will interpret this provision in order to determine whether, in entrusting the decision as to the choice of one of the means of settlement provided for in Article 33 of the Charter to the Secretary-General, the Parties consented to settle their controversy by, inter alia, judicial means. If it finds that they did, the Court will have to determine whether this consent is subject to any conditions. As part of the interpretation of Article IV, paragraph 2, of the Geneva Agreement, the Court will first examine the use of the term "controversy" in this provision.

A. The "controversy" under the Geneva Agreement

B. Whether the Parties gave their consent to the judicial settlement of the controversy under Article IV, paragraph 2, of the Geneva Agreement

67.

The Court notes that, unlike other provisions in treaties which refer directly to judicial settlement by the Court, Article IV, paragraph 2, of the Geneva Agreement refers to a decision by a third party with regard to the choice of the means of settlement. The Court must first ascertain whether the Parties conferred on that third party, in this instance the Secretary-General, the authority to choose, by a decision which is binding on them, the means of settlement of their controversy. To this end, it will interpret the first sentence of Article IV, paragraph 2, of the Geneva Agreement, which provides that "[the parties] shall refer the decision... to the Secretary-General". If it finds that this was their intention, the Court will then determine whether the Parties consented to the choice by the Secretary-General of judicial settlement. It will do so by interpreting the last sentence of this provision, which provides that the Secretary-General "shall choose another of the means stipulated in Article 33 of the Charter of the United Nations, and so on until the controversy has been resolved or until all the means of peaceful settlement there contemplated have been exhausted".

1. Whether the decision of the Secretary-General has a binding character

68.
Guyana considers that the decision of the Secretary-General cannot be regarded as a mere recommendation. It argues that it is clear from the use of the term "shall" in the English text of Article IV, paragraph 2, of the Geneva Agreement ("shall refer the decision") that there is an ensuing obligation. It adds that the use of the term "decision" in English shows that the Secretary-General's authority to choose the means of settlement was intended to produce a legally binding effect.
69.
In its Memorandum, Venezuela contends that the Secretary-General's decision can only be taken as a recommendation. It relies on the preamble to the Geneva Agreement to argue that Guyana's proposed interpretation is inconsistent with the object and purpose of this instrument because "[i]t is not just a question of settling the dispute, but of doing it by means of a practical, acceptable and satisfactory settlement agreed by the Parties". Venezuela further argues that a choice on the means of settlement to be used by the Parties is not in itself sufficient to "materialize the recourse to a specific means of settlement".
70.
To interpret the Geneva Agreement, the Court will apply the rules on treaty interpretation to be found in Articles 31 and 32 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (hereinafter the "Vienna Convention") (Dispute regarding Navigational and Related Rights (Costa Rica v. Nicaragua), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 2009, p. 237, para. 47). Although that convention is not in force between the Parties and is not, in any event, applicable to instruments concluded before it entered into force, such as the Geneva Agreement, it is well established that these articles reflect rules of customary international law (Question of the Delimitation of the Continental Shelf between Nicaragua and Colombia beyond 200 Nautical Miles from the Nicaraguan Coast (Nicaragua v. Colombia), Preliminary Objections, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 2016 (I), p. 116, para. 33).
71.

In accordance with the rule of interpretation enshrined in Article 31, paragraph 1, of the Vienna Convention, a treaty must be interpreted in good faith in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to the terms of the treaty in their context and in the light of its object and purpose. These elements of interpretation are to be considered as a whole (Maritime Delimitation in the Indian Ocean (Somalia v. Kenya), Preliminary Objections, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 2017, p. 29, para. 64).

2. Whether the Parties consented to the choice by the Secretary-General of judicial settlement

79.

The Court now turns to the interpretation of the last sentence of Article IV, paragraph 2, of the Geneva Agreement, which provides that the Secretary-General

"shall choose another of the means stipulated in Article 33 of the Charter of the United Nations, and so on until the controversy has been resolved or until all the means of peaceful settlement there contemplated have been exhausted".

80.

According to Guyana, "[t]he unqualified renvoi to Article 33 empowers the Secretary-General to decide that the parties shall have recourse to judicial settlement". It adds that an interpretation of Article IV, paragraph 2, of the Geneva Agreement which excludes the possibility of judicial settlement would deprive the treaty of its effectiveness and would lock the Parties "into a never-ending process of diplomatic negotiation, where successful resolution could be permanently foreclosed by either one of them". The Applicant further contends that the circumstances surrounding the conclusion of the Geneva Agreement "confirm that the parties understood and accepted that their deliberate renvoi to Article 33 made it possible that the controversy ultimately would be resolved by judicial settlement".

81.
In its Memorandum, Venezuela acknowledges that Article 33 of the Charter includes judicial settlement. However, it argues that since Article I of the Geneva Agreement refers to "seeking satisfactory solutions for the practical settlement of the controversy", this excludes judicial settlement unless the Parties consent to resort to it by special agreement.

C. Whether the consent given by the Parties to the judicial settlement of their controversy under Article IV, paragraph 2, of the Geneva Agreementis subject to any conditions

89.
The Court observes that, in treaties by which parties consent to the judicial settlement of a dispute, it is not unusual for them to subject such consent to conditions which must be regarded as constituting the limits thereon (see Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Georgia v. Russian Federation), Preliminary Objections, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 2011 (I), pp. 124-125, paras. 130-131; Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (New Application: 2002) (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Rwanda), Jurisdiction and Admissibility, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 2006, p. 39, para. 88). The Court must therefore now ascertain whether the Parties' consent to the means of judicial settlement, as expressed in Article IV, paragraph 2, of the Geneva Agreement, is subject to certain conditions.
90.

The Parties do not dispute that the Secretary-General is required to establish that the means previously chosen have not "le[d] to a solution of the controversy" before "choos[ing] another of the means stipulated in Article 33 of the Charter of the United Nations". The Court will therefore interpret only the terms of the second sentence of this provision, which provides that, if the means chosen do not lead to a resolution of the controversy, "the Secretary-General... shall choose another of the means stipulated in Article 33 of the Charter of the United Nations, and so on until the controversy has been resolved or until all the means of peaceful settlement there contemplated have been exhausted" (emphasis added).

91.
Guyana maintains that the Secretary-General's decision to choose the judicial means of settlement of the controversy constitutes a proper exercise of his authority under Article IV, paragraph 2, of the Geneva Agreement. It contends that the use of the definite article "the" (one of "the" means) is "indicative of comprehensiveness" and implies that the Secretary-General can choose any of those means without following a particular order. It adds that "[i]f the means were to be applied mechanically, in the order in which they appear in Article 33, the role of a third party in the 'decision as to the means' would be unnecessary".
92.
While Guyana acknowledges that, in the past, some Secretaries-General have consulted with the Parties during the process of choosing the means of settlement, it emphasizes that consultation with the Parties to ascertain their willingness to participate in such a process in no way detracts from the Secretary-General's authority to decide unilaterally on the means of settlement to be used.
93.
In its Memorandum, Venezuela contends that the Secretary-General's decision is not consistent with his mandate under Article IV, paragraph 2, of the Geneva Agreement. It argues that the proper exercise of those powers consists in following the order in which the means of settlement appear in Article 33 of the Charter. It bases this interpretation on the expression "and so on" (in the equally authoritative Spanish text: "y así sucesivamente"), which appears in the last sentence of Article IV, paragraph 2, of the Geneva Agreement.
94.
Venezuela adds that the practice whereby the Parties are consulted and give their consent to the choice contemplated by the Secretary-General must not be ignored.
95.
The Court must determine whether, under Article IV, paragraph 2, of the Geneva Agreement, the Parties' consent to the settlement of their controversy by judicial means is subject to the condition that the Secretary-General follow the order in which the means of settlement are listed in Article 33 of the United Nations Charter.
96.
The Court observes that the use of the verb "choose" in Article IV, paragraph 2, of the Geneva Agreement, which denotes the action of deciding between a number of solutions, excludes the idea that it is necessary to follow the order in which the means of settlement appear in Article 33 of the Charter. In its view, the Parties understood the reference to a choice of "the" means and, should the first fail, of "another" of those means as signifying that any of those means could be chosen. The expression "and so on", on which Venezuela bases its argument ("y así sucesivamente" in the Spanish text), refers to a series of actions or events occurring in the same manner, and merely conveys the idea of decision-making continuing until the controversy is resolved or all the means of settlement are exhausted. Therefore, the ordinary meaning of this provision indicates that the Secretary-General is called upon to choose any of the means listed in Article 33 of the Charter but is not required to follow a particular order in doing so.
97.
In the view of the Court, an interpretation of Article IV, paragraph 2, of the Geneva Agreement whereby the means of settlement should be applied successively, in the order in which they are listed in Article 33 of the Charter, could prove contradictory to the object and purpose of the Geneva Agreement for a number of reasons. First, the exhaustion of some means would render recourse to other means pointless. Moreover, such an interpretation would delay resolution of the controversy, since some means may be more effective than others in light of the circumstances surrounding the controversy between the Parties. In contrast, the flexibility and latitude afforded to the Secretary-General in the exercise of the decision-making authority conferred on him contribute to the aim of finding a practical, effective and definitive resolution of the controversy.
98.
The Court also recalls that the Charter of the United Nations does not require the exhaustion of diplomatic negotiations as a precondition for the decision to resort to judicial settlement (see, for example, Land and Maritime Boundary between Cameroon and Nigeria (Cameroon v. Nigeria), Preliminary Objections, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1998, p. 303, para. 56).
99.

Furthermore, regarding the Parties' subsequent practice, the Court observes that both Guyana and Venezuela accepted that good offices were covered by the phrase "other peaceful means of their own choice", which appears at the end of the list of means set out in Article 33, paragraph 1, of the Charter. Yet both Parties welcomed the Secretary-General's decision to choose that means of settlement rather than begin with negotiation, enquiry or conciliation. In so doing, they acknowledged that the Secretary-General was not required to follow the order in which the means of settlement are listed in Article 33 of the Charter but instead had the authority to give preference to one means over another.

100.
Regarding the question of consultation, the Court is of the view that nothing in Article IV, paragraph 2, of the Geneva Agreement requires the Secretary-General to consult with the Parties before choosing a means of settlement. It also observes that, although the successive Secretaries-General consulted with the Parties, it is clear from the various communications of the Secretaries-General (in particular the telegram of 31 August 1983 from the Secretary-General, Mr. Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guyana) that the sole aim of such consultation was to gather information from the Parties in order to choose the most appropriate means of settlement.

IV. JURISDICTION OF THE COURT

102.

As the Court has established above (see paragraphs 82 to 88), by virtue of Article IV, paragraph 2, of the Geneva Agreement, the Parties accepted the possibility of the controversy being resolved by means of judicial settlement. The Court will therefore now examine whether, by choosing the International Court of Justice as the means of judicial settlement for the controversy between Guyana and Venezuela, the Secretary-General acted in accordance with Article IV, paragraph 2, of the Geneva Agreement. If it finds that he did, the Court will have to determine the legal effect of the decision of the Secretary-General of 30 January 2018 on the jurisdiction of the Court under Article 36, paragraph 1, of its Statute.

A. The conformity of the decision of the Secretary-General of 30 January 2018 with Article IV, paragraph 2, of the Geneva Agreement

104.

The Court first notes that, in taking his decision, the Secretary-General expressly relied upon Article IV, paragraph 2, of the Geneva Agreement. The Court further notes that, if the means of settlement previously chosen does not lead to a solution of the controversy, this provision calls upon the Secretary-General to choose another of the means of settlement provided for in Article 33 of the Charter of the United Nations, without requiring him to follow any particular sequence (see paragraph 101 above).

105.

The Court is of the view that the means previously chosen by the Secretary-General "d[id] not lead to a solution of the controversy" within the terms of Article IV, paragraph 2. By 2014, the Parties had already been engaged in the good offices process within the framework of the Geneva Agreement for over twenty years, under the supervision of three Personal Representatives appointed by successive Secretaries-General, in order to find a solution to the controversy (see paragraph 54 above). As a result, in his decision of 30 January 2018, the Secretary-General stated that, no significant progress having been made towards arriving at a full agreement for the solution of the controversy in the good offices process, he had "chosen the International Court of Justice as the means that is now to be used for its solution", thereby fulfilling his responsibility to choose another means of settlement among those set out in Article 33 of the Charter of the United Nations.

106.

Neither Article IV, paragraph 2, of the Geneva Agreement nor Article 33 of the Charter of the United Nations expressly mentions the International Court of Justice. However, the Court, being the "principal judicial organ of the United Nations" (Article 92 of the Charter of the United Nations), constitutes a means of "judicial settlement" within the meaning of Article 33 of the Charter. The Secretary-General could therefore choose the Court, on the basis of Article IV, paragraph 2, of the Geneva Agreement, as the judicial means of settlement of the controversy between the Parties.

107.
Moreover, the circumstances surrounding the conclusion of the Geneva Agreement, which include ministerial statements and parliamentary debates (see Fisheries Jurisdiction (Spain v. Canada), Jurisdiction of the Court, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1998, p. 454, para. 49, and p. 457, para. 60; Aegean Sea Continental Shelf (Greece v. Turkey), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1978, p. 29, para. 69), indicate that recourse to the International Court of Justice was contemplated by the parties during their negotiations. In particular, the Court notes that, on the occasion of the ratification of the Agreement, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Venezuela stated the following before the Venezuelan National Congress:

"After some informal discussions, our Delegation chose to leave a proposal on the table similar to that third formula which had been rejected in London, adding to it recourse to the International Court of Justice. The Delegations of Great Britain and British Guiana, after studying in detail the proposal, and even though they were receptive to it by the end, objected to the specific mention of recourse to arbitration and to the International Court of Justice. The objection was bypassed by replacing that specific mention by referring to Article 33 of the United Nations Charter which includes those two procedures, that is arbitration and recourse to the International Court of Justice, and the possibility of achieving an agreement was again on the table. It was on the basis of this Venezuelan proposal that the Geneva Agreement was reached. Far from this being an imposition, as has been maliciously said, or a British ploy which surprised the naivety of the Venezuelan Delegation, it is based on a Venezuelan proposal which was once rejected in London and has now been accepted in Geneva." (Emphasis added.)

The Court considers that the words of the Venezuelan Minister for Foreign Affairs demonstrate that the parties to the Geneva Agreement intended to include the possibility of recourse to the International Court of Justice when they agreed to the Secretary-General choosing among the means set out in Article 33 of the Charter of the United Nations.

109.
The Court observes that the fact that the Secretary-General invited Guyana and Venezuela, if they so wished, "to attempt to resolve the controversy through direct negotiations, in parallel to a judicial process" and his offer of good offices to that end do not affect the conformity of the decision with Article IV, paragraph 2, of the Geneva Agreement. The Court has already explained in the past that parallel attempts at settlement of a dispute by diplomatic means do not prevent it from being dealt with by the Court (see, for example, Passage through the Great Belt (Finland v. Denmark), Provisional Measures, Order of 29 July 1991, I.C.J. Reports 1991, p. 20, para. 35). In the present case, the Secretary-General simply reminded the Parties that negotiations were a means of settlement that remained available to them while the dispute was pending before the Court.

B. The legal effect of the decision of the Secretary-General of 30 January 2018

110.

The Court now turns to the legal effect of the decision of the Secretary-General on its jurisdiction under Article 36, paragraph 1, of its Statute, which provides that "[t]he jurisdiction of the Court comprises all cases which the parties refer to it and all matters specially provided for in the Charter of the United Nations or in treaties and conventions in force".

111.

V. SEISIN OF THE COURT

116.
The Court now turns to the question whether it has been validly seised by Guyana.
117.

The seisin of the Court is, as observed in the case concerning Maritime Delimitation and Territorial Questions between Qatar and Bahrain (Qatar v. Bahrain), "a procedural step independent of the basis of jurisdiction invoked and, as such, is governed by the Statute and the Rules of Court" (Jurisdiction and Admissibility, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1995, p. 23, para. 43). Thus, for the Court to be able to entertain a case, the relevant basis of jurisdiction needs to be supplemented by the necessary act of seisin (ibid.).

118.
Guyana submits that "[t]he decision of the Secretary-General is... a legal act materialising the parties' a priori consent to judicial settlement", therefore allowing the unilateral seisin of the Court by either Party to the dispute. The Applicant contends in particular that the seisin of the Court is independent of the basis of jurisdiction, and that Venezuela, having consented to the Court's jurisdiction, cannot object to Guyana's unilateral seisin of the Court.
119.
In its Memorandum, Venezuela insists on the difference between Article IV of the Geneva Agreement and a compromissory clause. In Venezuela's view, in the absence of an explicit provision in the Geneva Agreement allowing the Court to be seised unilaterally, it must be presumed that the Court can only be validly seised by a "joint agreement" of the Parties.
120.
In the view of the Court, an agreement of the Parties to seise the Court jointly would only be necessary if they had not already consented to its jurisdiction. However, having concluded above that the consent of the Parties to the jurisdiction of the Court is established in the circumstances of this case, either Party could institute proceedings by way of a unilateral application under Article 40 of the Statute of the Court.
121.
In light of the foregoing, the Court concludes that it has been validly seised of the dispute between the Parties by way of the Application of Guyana.

VI. SCOPE OF THE JURISDICTION OF THE COURT

122.
Having concluded that it has jurisdiction to entertain Guyana's Application and that it is validly seised of this case, the Court must now ascertain whether all the claims advanced by Guyana fall within the scope of its jurisdiction.
123.
Guyana contends that the Court's jurisdiction ratione materiae extends to all the claims submitted in its Application, on the grounds that the Court's jurisdiction is determined by the text of the Geneva Agreement in light of its object and purpose and the Parties' practice thereunder.
124.
Relying on the title and preamble of the Geneva Agreement, and its Article I, Guyana argues that the controversy encompasses the dispute between the Parties regarding the validity of the 1899 Award as well as "any dispute 'which has arisen as a result of the Venezuelan contention'" (emphasis added by Guyana) that the 1899 Award is "null and void". In Guyana's view, this comprises any territorial or maritime dispute between the Parties resulting from the Venezuelan contention of the nullity of the Award, including any claims concerning the responsibility of Venezuela for violations of Guyana's sovereignty.
125.
Specifically, Guyana argues that the wording of the Geneva Agreement, notably Article I, presents the controversy as being the "result" of Venezuela's contention that the 1899 Award about the frontier between British Guiana and Venezuela is null and void. According to Guyana, since the 1899 Award delimited the boundary between Venezuela and the colony of British Guiana, the controversy between the Parties is territorial and the Court must therefore necessarily determine the boundary between Venezuela and Guyana, which implies first deciding whether the Award is valid. Guyana further argues that the Court would not be in a position to reach "a full agreement for the solution" of this dispute by addressing "any outstanding questions" (emphasis added by Guyana), which is the objective set forth under Article IV of the Geneva Agreement, without first ruling on the validity of the Award.
126.
In its Memorandum, Venezuela alleges that the question of the validity of the 1899 Award is not part of the controversy under the Geneva Agreement. According to Venezuela, the Geneva Agreement was adopted on the basis that the merits of the contention of nullity of the Award could not be discussed between the Parties as the "validity or nullity of an arbitral award is non-negotiable". Venezuela considers that "the subject-matter of the Geneva Agreement is the territorial dispute, not the validity or nullity of the 1899 Award".
127.
Venezuela adds that a legal dispute such as one regarding the validity of the 1899 Award is not susceptible to a "practical" settlement. In its view, the "countless references to a practical, acceptable and satisfactory settlement" in the Geneva Agreement would be deprived of legal effect if the controversy contemplated thereunder were considered as including the question of the validity of the 1899 Award.
128.

The Court notes that, in its Application, Guyana has made certain claims concerning the validity of the 1899 Award and other claims arising from events that occurred after the conclusion of the Geneva Agreement (see paragraph 19 above). Consequently, the Court will first ascertain whether Guyana's claims in relation to the validity of the 1899 Award about the frontier between British Guiana and Venezuela fall within the subject-matter of the controversy that the Parties agreed to settle through the mechanism set out in Articles I to IV of the Geneva Agreement, and whether, as a consequence, the Court has jurisdiction ratione materiae to entertain them. Secondly, the Court will have to determine whether Guyana's claims arising from events that occurred after the conclusion of the Geneva Agreement fall within the scope of the Court's jurisdiction ratione temporis.

129.

With regard to its jurisdiction ratione materiae, the Court recalls that Article I of the Geneva Agreement refers to the controversy that has arisen between the parties to the Geneva Agreement as a result of Venezuela's contention that the 1899 Award about the frontier between British Guiana and Venezuela is null and void (see paragraphs 64 to 66 above). As stated in paragraph 66 above, the subject-matter of the controversy which the parties agreed to settle under the Geneva Agreement relates to the validity of the 1899 Award and its implications for the land boundary between Guyana and Venezuela. The opposing views held by the parties to the Geneva Agreement on the validity of the 1899 Award is demonstrated by the use of the words "Venezuelan contention" in Article I of the Geneva Agreement. The word "contention", in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to it in the context of this provision, indicates that the alleged nullity of the 1899 Award was a point of disagreement between the parties to the Geneva Agreement for which solutions were to be sought. This in no way implies that the United Kingdom or Guyana accepted that contention before or after the conclusion of the Geneva Agreement. The Court therefore considers that, contrary to Venezuela's argument, the use of the word "contention" points to the opposing views between the parties to the Geneva Agreement regarding the validity of the 1899 Award.

130.

This interpretation is consistent with the object and purpose of the Geneva Agreement, which was to ensure a definitive resolution of the dispute between Venezuela and the United Kingdom over the frontier between Venezuela and British Guiana, as indicated by its title and preamble (see paragraphs 64 to 66, and 73 above). Indeed, it would not be possible to resolve definitively the boundary dispute between the Parties without first deciding on the validity of the 1899 Award about the frontier between British Guiana and Venezuela.

131.
This interpretation is also confirmed by the circumstances surrounding the conclusion of the Geneva Agreement. It may be recalled that the discussions between the parties as to the validity of the 1899 Award commenced with a Tripartite Examination of the documentary material relating to the Award, with the objective of assessing the Venezuelan claim with respect to its nullity. This was initiated by the Government of the United Kingdom, which asserted numerous times that it considered the Award to be valid and binding on the parties. As the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Venezuela reported, only two days before the Tripartite Examination concluded its work, the United Kingdom reaffirmed its position that the Award had settled the question of sovereignty in a valid and final manner.
132.
In the discussions held on 9 and 10 December 1965 between British Guiana, the United Kingdom and Venezuela, which preceded the conclusion of the Geneva Agreement, the first item on the agenda was to "exchange [their] views on the experts' report on the examination of documents and discuss[] the consequences resulting therefrom", whereas the second item was "[t]o seek satisfactory solutions for the practical settlement of the controversy which has arisen as a result of the Venezuelan contention that the 1899 Award is null and void". During these discussions, Venezuela reasserted its conviction that "the only satisfactory solution of the frontier problem with British Guiana lay in the return of the territory which by right belonged to her", while the United Kingdom and British Guiana rejected the Venezuelan proposal on the basis that it implied that the 1899 Award was null and void and that there was no justification for that allegation. British Guiana reiterated in the discussions that "the first question under discussion was the validity of the 1899 Award" and that it "could not accept the Venezuelan contention that the 1899 Award was invalid". The United Kingdom recalled that "the two sides had been unable to agree on the question of the 1899 Award's validity". Finally, the representative of British Guiana said that "it had never been his understanding that the territorial claim would be discussed unless the invalidity of the 1899 Award had first been established".
133.
It is on that basis that the subsequent meetings took place in Geneva in February 1966, culminating in the adoption of the Geneva Agreement. In a Note Verbale dated 25 February 1966, the United Kingdom Foreign Secretary stated to the British Ambassador to Venezuela that

"[t]he Venezuelans also tried hard to get the preamble to the Agreement to reflect their fundamental position: first, that we were discussing the substantive issue of the frontier and not merely the validity of the 1899 Award and secondly, that this had been the basis for our talks both in London and in Geneva. With some difficulty I persuaded the Venezuelan Foreign Minister to accept a compromise wording which reflected the known positions of both sides."

134.
The Court further notes that Venezuela's argument that the Geneva Agreement does not cover the question of the validity of the 1899 Award is contradicted by the statement of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Venezuela before the Venezuelan National Congress shortly after the conclusion of the Geneva Agreement. He stated in particular that "[i]f the nullity of the Award of 1899, be it through agreement between the concerned Parties or through a decision by any competent international authority as per Agreement, is declared then the question will go back to its original state". This confirms that the parties to the Geneva Agreement understood that the question of the validity of the 1899 Award was central to the controversy that needed to be resolved under Article IV, paragraph 2, of the Geneva Agreement in order to reach a definitive settlement of the land boundary between Guyana and Venezuela.
135.
The Court therefore concludes that Guyana's claims concerning the validity of the 1899 Award about the frontier between British Guiana and Venezuela and the related question of the definitive settlement of the land boundary dispute between Guyana and Venezuela fall within the subject-matter of the controversy that the Parties agreed to settle through the mechanism set out in Articles I to IV of the Geneva Agreement, in particular Article IV, paragraph 2, thereof, and that, as a consequence, the Court has jurisdiction ratione materiae to entertain these claims.
136.
With respect to its jurisdiction ratione temporis, the Court notes that the scope of the dispute that the Parties agreed to settle through the mechanism set out in Articles I to IV of the Geneva Agreement is circumscribed by Article I thereof, which refers to "the controversy... which has arisen as the result of the Venezuelan contention that the Arbitral Award of 1899... is null and void". The use of the present perfect tense in Article I indicates that the parties understood the controversy to mean the dispute which had crystallized between them at the time of the conclusion of the Geneva Agreement. This interpretation is not contradicted by the equally authoritative Spanish text of Article I of the Geneva Agreement, which refers to "la controversia entre Venezuela y el Reino Unido surgida como consecuencia de la contención venezolana de que el Laudo arbitral de 1899 sobre la frontera entre Venezuela y Guayana Británica es nulo e írrito". It is reinforced by the use of the definite article in the title of the Agreement ("Agreement to resolve the controversy"; in Spanish, "Acuerdo para resolver la controversia"), the reference in the preamble to the resolution of "any outstanding controversy" (in Spanish, "cualquiera controversia pendiente"), as well as the reference to the Agreement being reached "to resolve the present controversy" (in Spanish, "para resolver la presente controversia") (emphases added). The Court's jurisdiction is therefore limited ratione temporis to the claims of either Party that existed on the date the Geneva Agreement was signed, on 17 February 1966. Consequently, Guyana's claims arising from events that occurred after the signature of the Geneva Agreement do not fall within the scope of the jurisdiction of the Court ratione temporis.
137.
In light of the foregoing, the Court concludes that it has jurisdiction to entertain Guyana's claims concerning the validity of the 1899 Award about the frontier between British Guiana and Venezuela and the related question of the definitive settlement of the land boundary dispute between the territories of the Parties.
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