Suriname and Guyana Still Trying to Resolve Border Dispute

The Guyana Border Commission in its recent meetings with the Suriname Border Commission took the position of concentrating on establishing the modalities that exist in areas of the world where there are similar disputes.

And, according to Attorney General and Chairman of the Guyana Border Commission, Doodnauth Singh, that position is based on an agreement between President Bharrat Jagdeo and his Surinamese counterpart, President Ronald Venetiaan, "to explore modalities for joint exploitation and/or exploration of the resources of overlap".

The agreement by the two Presidents was made during a State visit by President Jagdeo to neighbouring Suriname in late January last year, he told the National Assembly during the 2003 National Budget debate at the Ocean View International Hotel, Convention Centre, Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara.

The two countries are at odds in relation to three areas- the Maritime Area; the Corentyne River and the New River Triangle.

The dispute over the triangular maritime area, referred to as 'an area of overlap', is as to whether the boundary is a line 10 degrees east, or 33 degrees east in Corentyne.

And regarding the Corentyne River, it is whether Suriname's boundary extends to the high water mark on the Guyana side, or the median line, and the right of passage across the river for Guyanese vessels and personnel.

The New River Triangle, as described by Singh, is an "area of about 8000 square miles, triangular in shape and so described because of the discovery of the Corentyne River."

Suriname however, is relying on a joint statement issued in Trinidad in 1971 by then Presidents of Guyana and Suriname, Forbes Burnham and Jules Sedney, in which there was an undertaking by the Governments of Guyana and Suriname that they would withdraw their military personnel from the upper reaches of the Corentyne River.

Singh pointed out that despite this, the Suriname Border Commission has not taken the position that settling the New River Triangle issue is a condition that precedes the Maritime exploitation and or exploration or activity, but would wish that both matters be discussed and resolved.

In the most recent development regarding the New River Triangle, Suriname, Guyana’s neighbor to the east, circulated a note to diplomatic missions there, advising that published Suriname maps should include the New River Triangle, as part of its territory.

However, the Government of Guyana rejected the attempt by Suriname to engage in that form of territorial aggression and subsequently lodged a protest note with the Surinamese authorities in which it reminded that administration that the New River Triangle is part of Guyana.


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