British High Commissioner to Guyana, James Gregory Quinn has dismissed Venezuela’s most recent claim on Guyana’s oil rich Essequibo Coast, stating that it lacks solid grounds. Venezuela’s President Nicholas Maduro on May 27 signed a decree that now claims an entire portion of Guyana’s territory into the Atlantic Ocean and includes the Stabroek Block where a significant portion of oil was recently discovered by US oil giant, ExxonMobil.

Guyana’s Government via the Foreign Affairs Ministry has since responded, labeling the most recent claim by Venezuela as a “flagrant violation of International laws,” deeming the decree illegal.

In an invited comment to local media in Georgetown, Quinn made a similar statement pointing out that “the UK is clear that the Venezuela-Guyana land border is, and should be, as agreed under the 1899 Arbitration Agreement.”

Quinn contended that the 1966 Geneva Agreement did not change that adding “indeed Article V(2) of that agreement states: ‘No new claim, or enlargement of an existing claim, to territorial sovereignty … shall be asserted while this Agreement is in force, nor shall any claim whatsoever be asserted otherwise than in the Mixed Commission.’

Given these international agreements, Quinn says the claim is baseless.

“Connected to this we see no grounds in international law which would justify recent Venezuelan claims to what we consider to be Guyanese territorial waters,” the High Commissioner stated.

The Guyana government in a statement noted that any attempt by Venezuela to impose the decree will be “vigorously resisted” adding that the government will spare no effort to bring the issue to the international limelight.

“The Cooperative Republic of Guyana is concerned that the said decree disregards International Law, constitutes a threat to regional peace and security and breaches the Geneva Agreement of 1966. It is therefore imperative that Venezuela adheres to the principles of International Law in seeking to delineate its maritime boundaries with neighboring countries pending actual delimitations,” the statement from the government read.