Guyana-Venezuela border…as rep to Guyana has to submit report on controversy to SGBy Jarryl BryanFar from December 31, 2017 (Old Year’s Night) being the deadline when Guyanese should have known if the border controversy with Venezuela would head to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), it was in fact only the beginning of the road to a final settlement.Speaking to Guyana Times during an interview, Director General of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Audrey Jardine-Waddell related that even the Government wasFlashback: President David Granger at the time of a meeting last year with UN Secretary General’s representative, Dag Halvor Nylanderwaiting for the final word from the United Nations.According to Waddell, UN Secretary General António Guterres still has to make a deliberation on the best way to resolve the controversy. This will, however, be after his special representative to Guyana tasked with handling the border controversy, Dag Halvor Nylander, submits a report on the matter to him.“We’re still awaiting the decision of the SG. That’s where we are now. December 31st is (actually) when the process ended,” Waddell explained. “We’re awaiting that report. We don’t receive the report. That was part of the process. You submit the report to the SG, the process ending on the 31st of December and the SG will make his decision.”Last year, a meeting with representatives from both sides was organised by Nylander. The meeting was aimed at providing a chance for the two Governments to arrive at a solution. Appointed in February 2017, Nylander had visited Guyana a number of times to hold talks with President David Granger and Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge, among others.The Guyana delegation to the General Debate of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly had also met with Guterres, as well as Nylander, in September of last year. Informal discussions were also held with Venezuelan counterparts.Relations between Guyana and Venezuela have worsened ever since oil giant ExxonMobil announced in 2015 that it had found oil in Guyana. Venezuela has staunchly been against oil exploration in Guyana’s Stabroek Block, where multiple oil deposits were found by ExxonMobil.In fact, Venezuela’s National Assembly had approved an agreement to reject the oil exploration activities in March 2017.Venezuela, with almost 40 times the population of Guyana and a territory that is several times bigger, purported to claim in 1968 the entire territorial sea of Guyana by means of the Leoni Decree, which has never been withdrawn.In 2015, the Government of Guyana requested then UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to take steps towards resolving the controversy. In 2016, as a consequence of a stalemate on the matter, the outgoing Ban agreed with his successor, Guterres, to continue to use the Good Offices Process until the end of 2017 as a means of arriving at a settlement.It is with that intention that Guterres appointed Nylander as an envoy to resolve the border controversy. According to the mandate of the Personal Representative, “If, by the end of 2017, the Secretary General concludes that no significant progress has been made towards 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 the Governments of Guyana and Venezuela jointly request that he refrain from doing so.”It is understood that if the Secretary General decides to refer the matter to the ICJ, this referral is not contingent on agreement from Venezuela. In a previous statement on the matter, the Foreign Affairs Ministry had noted that this referral does not require Venezuela’s approval beyond what is allotted in the 1966 Geneva Agreement.