Legal Reflections on the Guyana- Venezuela Maritime Issue


  • Alicia Elias- Roberts


This paper contrasts the Guyana-Venezuela maritime incident that occurred on October 10th 2013 with the Guyana-Suriname maritime incident that occurred on June 3rd 2000. It examines several issues to determine whether the actions by the Venezuelan Government to detain the seismic research vessel RV Teknik Perdana which was in disputed waters at the time of the incident can be justified under public international law. First, the different factual backgrounds between the two events are discussed. Next, the legal implication of the different Maritime zones where the two incidents occur is examined. This is followed by a discussion on the use of force in the Guyana-Venezuela incident versus the threat of force in the Guyana-Suriname incident. The Applicability of UNCLOS and its Dispute settlement mechanism to the disputes is also analysed and finally, the applicability of customary international law principles of equidistance or equitable principles to resolve the dispute are discussed. Also, the possibility of Guyana and Venezuela entering into a joint unitisation agreement is examined.




Original Research Articles