The Trail Of Diplomacy

A Documentary History of the Guyana-Venezuela Border Issue
by Odeen Ishmael
© Copyright 1998


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The Arbitral Tribunal and the Award


With a gradual healing of the rift between the United States and Great Britain taking place during 1896, it was widely believed that a solution of the Venezuela-British Guiana border dispute was in sight. Eventually, after the British and the Americans signed the agreement on a proposed treaty of arbitration between Great Britain and Venezuela on 12 November 1896, the British Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury announced in London that a satisfactory solution of the boundary question was about to be reached. This information was also reflected in President Cleveland's annual message to the US Congress on the 7 December 1896 when he declared:

The Venezuelan boundary question has ceased to be a matter of difference between Great Britain and the United States, their respective Governments having agreed upon the substantial provisions of a treaty between Great Britain and Venezuela submitting the whole controversy to arbitration. The provisions of the treaty are so eminently just and fair that the assent of Venezuela thereto may confidently be anticipated.

Negotiations for a treaty of general arbitration for all differences between Great Britain and the United States are far advanced and promise to reach a successful consumma-tion at an early date

Ultimately, on the 2 February 1897, Sir Julian Pauncefote and José Andrade, the British and Venezuelan Ambassadors respectively to Washington, signed in that capital the following treaty of arbitration:


Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the United States of Venezuela, being desirous to provide for an amicable settlement of the ques-tion which has arisen between their respective Governments concerning the boundary be-tween the Colony of British Guiana and the United States of Venezuela, having resolved to submit to arbitration the question involved, and to the end of concluding a Treaty for that purpose, have appointed as their respective Plenipotentiaries:

Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the Right Honourable Sir Julian Pauncefote, a Member of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of Bath, and of the Most Distin-guished Order of St. Michael and St. George, and Her Majesty's Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States:

And the President of the United States of Venezuela, Senor Jose Andrade, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Venezuela to the United States of America:

Who having communicated to each other their respective full powers, which were found to be in due and proper form, have agreed to and concluded the following Articles: -


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


The Tribunal shall consist of five jurists; two on the part of Great Britain, nominated by the members of the Judicial Committee of Her Majesty's Privy Council, namely, the Right Honourable Baron Herschell, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of Bath, and the Honourable Sir Richard Henn Collins, Knight, one of the Justices of Her Britannic Majesty's Supreme Court of the Judicature; two on the part of Venezuela, nominated, one by the President of the United States of Venezuela, namely, the Honourable Melville Weston Fuller, Chief Justice of the United States of America, and one nominated by the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States of America, namely, the Honourable David Josiah Brewer, a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America; and of a fifth jurist to be selected by the four persons so nominated, or in the event of their failure to agree within three months from the exchange of ratification of the present Treaty, to be so selected by His Majesty the King of Sweden and Norway. The jurist so selected shall be the President of the Tribunal.

In the case of death, absence, or incapacity to serve of any of the four Arbitrators above named, or in the event of any such Arbitrator omitting or declining or ceasing to act as such, another jurist of repute shall be forthwith substituted in his place. If such vacancy shall occur among those nominated on the part of Great Britain, the substitute shall be appointed by the members for the time being of the Judicial Committee of Her Majesty's Privy Council, acting by a majority, and if among those nominated on the part of Venezuela, he shall be ap-pointed by the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, acting by a majority. If such vacancy shall occur in the case of the fifth Arbitrator, a substitute shall be selected in the manner herein provided for with regard to the original appointment.


The Tribunal shall investigate and ascertain the extent of the territories belonging to, or that might lawfully be claimed by the United Netherlands or by the Kingdom of Spain re-spectively at the time of the acquisition by Great Britain of the Colony of British Guiana, and shall determine the boundary-line between the Colony of British Guiana and the United States of Venezuela.


In deciding the matters submitted, the Arbitrators shall ascertain all facts which they deem necessary to the decision of the controversy, and shall be governed by the following Rules, which are agreed upon by the High Contracting Parties as Rules to be taken as appli-cable to the case, and by such principles of international law not inconsistent therewith as the Arbitrators shall determine to be applicable to the case-


(a) Adverse holding or prescription during a period of fifty years shall make a good title. The Arbitrators may deem exclusive political control of a district, as well as actual set-tlement thereof, sufficient to constitute adverse holding or to make title by prescription.

(b) The Arbitrators may recognise and give effect to rights and claims resting on any other ground whatever valid according to international law, and on any principles of interna-tional law which the Arbitrators may deem to be applicable to the case, and which are not in contravention of the foregoing rule.

(c) In determining the boundary-line, if territory of one Party be found by the Tribu-nal to have been at the date of this Treaty in the occupation of the subjects or citizens of the other Party, such effect shall be given to such occupation as reason, justice, the principles of international law, and the equities of the case shall, in the opinion of the Tribunal, require.


The Arbitrators shall meet at Paris, within sixty days after the delivery of the printed arguments mentioned in Article VIII, and shall proceed impartially and carefully to examine and decide the questions that have been, or shall be, laid before them, as herein provided, on the part of the Governments of Her Britannic Majesty and the United States of Venezuela re-spectively.

Provided always that the Arbitrators may, if they shall think fit, hold their meetings, or any of them, at any other place which they may determine.

All questions considered by the Tribunal, including the final decision, shall be de-termined by a majority of all the Arbitrators.

Each of the High Contracting Parties shall name one person as its Agent to attend the Tribunal, and to represent it generally in all matters connected with the Tribunal.


The printed Case of each of the two Parties accompanied by the documents, the offi-cial correspondence, and other evidence on which each relies, shall be delivered in duplicate to each of the Arbitrators and to the Agent of the other Party as soon as may be after the ap-pointment of the members of the Tribunal, but within a period not exceeding eight months from the date of the exchange of the ratifications of this Treaty.


Within four months after the delivery on both sides of the printed Case, either Party may in like manner deliver in duplicate to each of the said Arbitrators, and to the Agent of the other Party, a Counter-Case, and additional documents, correspondence, and evidence, in reply to the Case, documents, correspondence, and evidence of the other Party.

If in the Case submitted to the Arbitrators either Party shall have specified or alluded to any report or document in its own exclusive possession, without annexing a copy, such Party shall be bound, if the other Party thinks proper to apply for it, to furnish that Party with a copy thereof, and either Party may call upon the other , through the Arbitrators, to produce the originals or certified copies of any papers adduced as evidence, giving in each instance notice thereof within thirty days after delivery of the Case, and the original or copy so requested shall be delivered as soon as may be, and within a period not exceeding forty days after receipt of notice.


It shall be the duty of the Agent of each Party, within three months after the expira-tion of the time limited for the delivery of the Counter-Case on both sides, to deliver in du-plicate to each of the said Arbitrators, and to the Agent of the other party, a printed argument showing the points, and referring to the evidence upon which his Government relies, and ei-ther party may also support the same before the Arbitrators by oral argument of Counsel; and the Arbitrators may, if they desire further elucidation with regard to any point, require a writ-ten or printed statement or argument, or oral argument by Counsel upon it; but in such case the other party shall be entitled to reply either orally or in writing, as the case may be.


The Arbitrators may, for any cause deemed by them sufficient, enlarge either of the periods fixed in Articles VI, VII and VIII by the allowance of thirty days additional.


The decision of the Tribunal shall, if possible, be made within three months from the close of the argument on both sides.

It shall be made in writing and dated, and shall be signed by the Arbitrators who may assent to it.

The decision shall be in duplicate, one copy thereof shall be delivered to the Agent of Great Britain for his Government, and the other copy shall be delivered to the Agent of the United States of Venezuela for his Government.


The Arbitrators shall keep an accurate record of their proceedings, and may employ the necessary officers to assist them.


Each Government shall pay its own Agent and provide for the proper remuneration of the Counsel appointed by it, and of the Arbitrators appointed by it or in its behalf, and for the expense of preparing and submitting its Case to the Tribunal. All other expenses con-nected with the Arbitration shall be defrayed by the two Governments in equal moieties.


The High Contracting Parties engage to consider the result of the proceeds of the Tribunal of Arbitration as a full, perfect, and final settlement of all the questions referred to the Arbitrators.


The present Treaty shall be duly ratified by Her Britannic Majesty and by the Presi-dent of the United States of Venezuela, by and with the Congress thereof, and the ratifica-tions shall be exchanged in London or in Washington within six months from the date hereof.

In faith whereof, we, the respective Plenipotentiaries, have signed this Treaty and have hereunto affixed our seals.

Done in duplicate, at Washington, the second day of February, one thousand eight hundred and ninety-seven.




The arbitration treaty was welcomed by the Venezuelan Government, and on 20 Febru-ary 1897, the Venezuelan President, Joaquín Sinforiano De Jesús Crespo, presented the following message to the Venezuelan Congress on its significance:

. . .While the Venezuelan Government, through the patriotic and earnest efforts of its Foreign Office, was presenting and urging its rights before the Boundary Commission, the State Department at Washington, with laudable efforts, was endeavoring to secure arbitration from the British Ministry, in order to adjust with greater facility and success this unpleasant dispute of almost a century. The first official knowledge the Executive power had of the means employed to induce our powerful adversary to accept arbitration unreservedly and un-conditionally, for which Venezuela had always contended, was derived from the publication of the correspondence between the Governments at Washington and London from February to June of the past year, and which, being so favorable to this republic, was sent here to be translated into Spanish and printed. Latterly this Government, through its Legation at Wash-ington, was consulted as to a point in relation to those negotiations for arbitration. The reply of the Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs, with an opinion contrary to that which was seemingly suggested on this point, arrived in Washington at the time when the answers from Great Britain were expected as to the determinate points of the arbitration.

At this juncture the Government was informed that on the 12th of November there had been signed in Washington by his Excellency Mr. Olney, Secretary of State of the United States, and Sir Julian Pauncefote, Ambassador of Her Britannic Majesty in Washington, a protocol with the essential bases for a treaty between Venezuela and Great Britain, which, by means of arbitration, would put an end to the old dispute between the two nations. The bases were then submitted by the Washington Government for the consideration of this Govern-ment by means of a letter to me from his Excellency Mr. Cleveland, in which he manifested the noble desire to see accepted a compact which, in his opinion, was just and advantageous.

The responsibilities of those who are intrusted with the administration of public af-fairs by the suffrage of the people increase and become graver when the preservation of inter-ests closely linked with the National life is the subject to be dealt with. There is in the breast of the Chief Magistrate who has the good of the Republic at heart a struggle between the ideas of the moment and those born of a concern for the future. To study well the former and the latter, to weight the advantages and risks of the one and the other without silencing the dictates of conscience and reason, such are the duties, truly arduous, of the ruler during whose term of office has chanced to fall the settlement of an affair which, like that of the Guiana boundary question, has been growing graver - a struggle without a truce and full of lamentable incidents to the party weak to material defenses. Public opinion, to which the go-verning power must always listen, especially when the territorial integrity is the subject of discussion, manifested itself so divided as to the bases proposed to Venezuela that it would have been in vain for the most expert observer to have deduced from such adversity of opi-nions any expression of the public sentiment.

The Government, in forming its opinion, should naturally take into consideration the conditions under which the protocol was signed and presented. One of the signers was the Secretary of State of the Nation which, fully alive to the grave consequences of its action, ge-nerously interposed in this dispute, seeking an arrangement which would at once preserve the laws of the National decorum and the continental integrity. The recourse to arbitration of-fered itself, and, although by no means in the manner wished for by Venezuela, was more consonant than any other with the desires manifested. The Government deemed it proper to insert in the treaty a provision that Venezuela should have a voice in the naming of the arbi-tral tribunal. As soon as this change was proposed its acceptance was procured. The action of the United States had produced a result the after effects or which were, from a moral point of view, indispensably subject to the effective and powerful prestige of said Nation.

The plan of settlement was presented for the consideration of Venezuela, with no proposition for co-operative participation, contrary to the sovereignty and independence of the republic; further, as the United States had conducted the negotiations according to their judgment alone, the definite acceptance of the bases will always involve for them a sort of friendly responsibility which will be in every case a guarantee of future harmony between the two nations represented by the arbitral tribunal. It is eminently just to recognize the fact that the great Republic has strenuously endeavored to conduct this matter in the most favorable way, and the result obtained represents an effort of intelligence and good will worthy of praise and thanks from us who are so intimately acquainted with the conditions of this most complicated question.

It is your duty, according to the constitutional law of the republic, to examine the treaty which the Venezuelan Minister Plenipotentiary signed in accordance with the bases re-ferred to and the change proposed by the executive power in regard to the formation of the arbitral tribunal.

And as this is an affair of such importance involving as it does such sacred interests, I beg you that from the moment it is presented for your consideration you will postpone all other business until you shall decide upon it."

Shortly after, the Venezuelan Congress ratified the arbitration treaty and offered its full support to the Arbitral Tribunal to be established.


This treaty of arbitration, known as the Treaty of Washington, established an Arbitral Tribunal comprising of five judges in order to decide on a final solution of the dispute. Each party in the dispute was to select two judges, and the four so selected were to choose the fifth judge who would be Chairman of the Arbitral Tribunal. If the four should fail to agree on the choice of the fifth judge, the treaty stipulated that King Oscar of Norway and Sweden would make the choice.

In signing this treaty, both Great Britain and Venezuela agreed that the decision of the Tribunal would be a "full, perfect, and final settlement" of the dispute.

By the terms of the Treaty of Washington, Great Britain nominated Lord Herschell, the Chief Justice, and Lord Justice Richard Henn Collins, a Justice of the Court of Appeals and the Privy Council. They were at that period two of the leading judges in Great Britain. Venezuela, on the other hand, nominated Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Melville Fuller, and another US Supreme Court Judge, David Brewer, who had served as Chairman of the dissolved United States Venezuelan Boundary Commission. The choice of American judges by Venezuela was a sure indication of the full confidence that Venezuela held for the USA which championed its case throughout the period 1895-1899.


To choose the fifth arbitrator, the British and Venezuelan nominees were expected to submit to both Governments separate proposals of names of several jurists acceptable to each party. However, in both proposals, only the name of Frederic de Martens, a distinguished Rus-sian writer on international law, appeared, and he was chosen as the fifth arbitrator and President of the Tribunal. Frederic de Martens, whose original Russian name was Fyodor Fydorovich Mar-tens, was born in 1845 and was educated at the University of Petrograd, where he later became Professor of International Law. In 1868, he became Legal Advisor to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As a writer on international law, de Martens was best known for his two-volume study entitled The International Law of Civilised Nations which was published in 1883. He also became famous as the editor between 1874 and 1909 of a comprehensive 15-volume Compen-dium of Treaties between Russia and other Powers which gave the diplomatic background to each Treaty. His skill and integrity had become well known in international legal circles and, un-doubtedly, these qualities influenced the judges chosen by Venezuela and Great Britain to name him as the President of the Tribunal. (In 1902, three years after the work of the Tribunal ended, de Martens was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize).

Just before the Tribunal was making arrangements to begin hearing of the case, Lord Herschell died and he was succeeded by the new British Chief Justice, Lord Charles Russell.


On the 15 March 1898 each party submitted its case in writing to the Tribunal. Vene-zuela's case was contained in three volumes and an atlas, while that of Great Britain was in seven volumes and an atlas. Four months later, on the 15 July 1898, each party submitted its rebuttal. Venezuela's rebuttal was presented in three volumes and an atlas while Great Britain's was in two volumes accompanied by six maps. Then on the 15 November 1898 each party submitted its final printed argument - Venezuela's in two volumes and Great Britain's in one.

The hearing of the oral arguments was conducted at the premises of the Ministry of For-eign Affairs of France, in Paris, during a three-month period from 15 June to 15 September 1899. During this period there were fifty-four sessions of four hours each.

Great Britain was represented by a four-man counsel, namely, Sir Richard E. Webster, Attorney-General; Sir Robert T. Reid, a former Attorney-General; Mr. George R. Askwith and Mr. Sydney Rowlatt.

Venezuela was also represented by four counsel, namely General Benjamin Harrison, a former President of the United States; Mr. Severo Mallet-Prevost, former Secretary of the United States Venezuelan Boundary Commission; General Benjamin T. Tracy, an ex-Defence Secretary of the United States; and James Russel Soley.

In opening Great Britain's oral arguments, Sir Richard Webster delivered a speech that lasted thirteen days. Mallet-Prevost, for Venezuela, followed this with one that also lasted thir-teen days. After these two long arguments, Sir Richard Webster closed the case for Great Britain while General Harrison did so for Venezuela.


The Venezuelan Government detailed its case before the Arbitral Tribunal around the following claims:

1. By virtue of a Papal Bull issued in 1493 by Pope Alexander VI, Spain, (Venezuela's for-mer colonial ruler), was granted the whole of geographical Guiana, since any land not specifically granted to any other nation remained under the exclusive sovereignty of Spain and its rightful heirs.

2. Venezuela revolted from Spain on the 19 April 1810. On the 30 March 1845, Spain rec-ognised Venezuela's independence and formally renounced in its favour all the sover-eignty, rights and claims previously that of Spain in the territory formerly known as the Captaincy-General of Venezuela. The territory included the region in dispute.

3. Spain was the first country to discover and occupy the territory of Guiana; at the time of the Treaty of Munster, Spain merely recognised Holland's rights to the ports which it held at that time. The insignificant Dutch Posts which subsequently appeared west of the Essequibo were considered as transgressions of the Treaty of Munster.

4. When Great Britain acquired British Guiana in 1814, the Colony's boundary was the Essequibo River. This was the frontier shown on various maps printed in London, and in particular by the Venezuelan, General Francisco de Miranda, under the auspices of the British Government.

5. The Essequibo line was the original Schomburgk Line of 1835 as shown on the map that Schomburgk drew before he showed partiality for British interests.

6. As Great Britain had no confidence in its claims, it successively changed its position re-garding the frontier with Venezuela. By contrast, Venezuela was sure of the validity of its claims and, because of this, it was prepared to submit the dispute to the legal decision of impartial arbitrators, while it consistently maintained its claim to the territory west of the Essequibo River.


The British Government's case was based on the following evidence:

1. From the end of the sixteenth century the Dutch constantly, and of right, traded on the coast of Guiana between the Orinoco and the Amazon Rivers.

2. During the whole of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Dutch had the control of the rivers flowing into the Atlantic from the Corentyne to the Amakura.

3. At least as early as 1616, the Dutch began to establish settlements in the territory between the Corentyne and the Orinoco, and from that time down to the acquisition of British Guiana by Great Britain, they continually extended their settlements in various parts of this area.

4. At different times during the same period, the Dutch occupied various parts of the in-terior of the Essequibo, Mazaruni, Cuyuni, Moruka, Pomeroon, Waini, Barima and Amakura Rivers and their tributary streams.

5. The Spaniards recognised the Amakura or the Barima as being the effective frontier of their possessions.

6. The Spanish authorities recognised the junctions of the Uruan and Curumo Rivers with the Cuyuni as being the frontiers of their possessions and proposed to establish a fort there to protect the Missions from the Dutch.

7. After they acquired British Guiana, the British further developed the trade and resources of the area.

8. Prior to 1596 the Spaniards had established no settlement in the Guiana region.

9. From 1596 up to 1723 the only settlement of the Spaniards was Santo Thomé de Guayana, on the south bank of the Orinoco River. This settlement was originally founded in the year 1596 but was subsequently twice removed to different sites on the river, the last being on the site of Ciudad Bolivar.

10. Between 1723 and 1796 the only additional points occupied by Spaniards or Spanish sub-jects were the Capuchin Mission stations south of the Orinoco, in the vicinity of the Yu-ruari River.

11. The Mission stations south of the Orinoco in the neighbourhood of the Yuruari River ex-tended no further to the east than Tumeremo.

12. Neither the Spaniards nor the Venezuelans had ever effectively occupied any part of the territory in dispute.

13. From the early part of the seventeenth century, the Dutch and, since their acquisition of the Colony, the British controlled the trade of the entire disputed territory.

14. The Dutch, and subsequently the British, appointed Postholders and other officers whose special duties were to regulate trade; to control and protect the Amerindians and to estab-lish friendly relations with them; and to issue passports authorising passage through the territories of the Colony.

15. As early as the seventeenth century the Dutch had a station at Barima, and that district and its inhabitants and trade remained throughout under the control of the Dutch and the British.

16. The Dutch West India Company received authority from the States-General (Parliament of the Netherlands) to establish, and, in fact established, a Protectorate over the Amerin-dian tribes of Guiana.

17. The Colony entered into contracts, leagues and alliances with the Amerindian tribes. 18. The Amerindians of Guyana submitted to, acknowledged, and supported the sovereignty of the Dutch and the British respectively within the disputed territory, and there was a continuous exercise of jurisdiction therein by the Dutch and the British.

19. The Dutch, and subsequently the British, claimed and exercised the right of appointing Captains of the Amerindians who were officially recognised as such by the Government of Venezuela.

20. The Dutch and the British employed the Amerindians living within the disputed territory in services both of a military and industrial character.

21. Subsidies were for many years paid to the Amerindians for military services by the Dutch and the British Governments respectively.

22. The territorial area within which the Dutch and the British exercised their acknowledged rights of protection and sovereignty over the Amerindian tribes included the basins of the Essequibo, Mazaruni, Cuyuni, Pomeroon, Moruka, Barama, Waini and Barima Rivers, and up to the right bank of the Amakura River.

23. After the acquisition of the Colony by the British, Great Britain exercised over the dis-puted territory all those rights by which nations usually indicated their claim to territorial possession.

24. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, while the Spanish exercised control over Santo Thomé and the district known as Orinoco, they never exercised any jurisdiction over the disputed territory.

25. The Capuchin Missions never exercised any control or jurisdiction over any territory ex-cept that actually comprised within the Mission stations.

26. On every occasion on which the Spaniards entered the disputed territory, their expedi-tions were mere raids, and were not followed up by any occupation or effective control. 27. Neither Spain nor Venezuela had ever exercised any jurisdiction or control over any part of the disputed territory.


The following principles of international law were also submitted in the British case:

1. Discovery of new territory, apart from possession and effective occupation, did not estab-lish an absolute and permanent right to domination; it only gave to the discovering coun-try a right (which, if the intention to exercise it was openly asserted, remained for a rea-sonable time the best right) to effectively occupy the newly discovered territory.

2. Newly-discovered territories, if not effectively occupied within a reasonable time by the discoverers, were open to the occupation of other Powers, and the first power effectively occupying such territory obtained an absolute right to sovereignty of the territory occu-pied.

3. Effective occupation meant the use and enjoyment of the resources of the country and the general control of the inhabitants, under the protection and by the authority of a Government claiming and exercising jurisdiction on that behalf.

4. The extent of the territory over which a Power obtained dominion by an effective occupa-tion of land on a newly-discovered continent was not limited to the exact area of which it at once assumed the use and control. As between two or more rival settlements, the line of division could not be ascertained by any hard and fast rule applicable to all cases. A line must be looked for which should divide the country in accordance with the principles which, upon a consideration of all the local circumstances, would seem to be those of a natural division. But great weight must also be given to the relative importance and pre-sumable power of expansion in the direction of the settlements between which it was to be divided.

5. A Power encroaching upon territory of which another Power had already acquired the sovereignty under the principles already stated would acquire no more territory in deroga-tion of that sovereignty that it actually and effectively occupied by its encroachments.

6. The alleged attempts of the Popes of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to divide be-tween Spain and Portugal all lands discovered had no effect or validity except as be-tween nations consenting to be bound thereby. They were consistently repudiated by England, France and Holland.


The British Government presented the following written concluding statement to the Tribunal:

It is submitted that the points on which the delimitation of the frontier between British Guiana and Venezuela must mainly turn are: (1) the extent of effective occupation and political control on each side; and (2) the natural features of the country. Formal delimitation by consent has never been affected, and although the British Government may with confidence rely on the prevailing reputation as to boundary shown by the maps and documents, it is only proposed in this summary to present in brief outline the leading facts which have been established, and to well-recognised principles of law. It is submitted that they show beyond all doubt that the boundary must be drawn in accordance with the British claim.

In the course of the prolonged negotiations which have taken place since 1841, Great Britain has displayed great forbearance, and in the hope of effecting an amicable settlement, has expressed her willingness to relinquish some parts of her just rights. The proposals made by Lord Aberdeen in 1844 and by Lord Aberdeen in 1881, involved large concessions by this country. These proposals were made simply with a view to the maintenance of friendly relations. They were rejected by Venezuela who has refused all compromise, and challenged a decision on the rights of the two countries. The controversy must now be determined according to the rights of the parties, and Venezuela cannot be permitted to appeal to offers made in the hope of effecting a compromise as affording any evidence, even the slightest, of what the true boundary is.

Venezuela has, in the diplomatic correspondence, presented her Case as resting on the Bull of Pope Alexander IV, on the discovery of Guiana by the Spaniards, on the allegation that any possession by the Dutch west of the Essequibo was a usurpation and had not been approved by Spain, and on the assertion of dominion in fact by Spain up to the Essequibo. It is submitted that the first three of these grounds are in themselves unreasonable and without foundation in point of law, and that the fourth can be demonstrated to be unfounded in point of fact.

When Venezuela was recognised as independent, she acquired as territory only that of which Spain had been in actual and effective possession at the time of the revolt in 1810. Even if the claims of Spain to the whole of the vast province of Guiana so far as it was not actually oc-cupied by other nations had not been destitute of all foundation, those claims did not and could not pass to the new Republic.

What then was the extent in 1810 of the Spanish occupation and control in Guiana so far as it is relevant to the present controversy?

The Spaniards occupied Santo Thomé with the territory immediately adjoining it, and a narrow strip extending some distance down the right bank of the Orinoco, but not so far as the Amakuru.

Spanish Mission stations had from time to time existed on the savannah near the upper waters of the Yuruari, but these stations never extended further in the direction of the Dutch Colony than the line of Cura and Tumeremo, and the missionaries never had either possession or control of any territory except the spots actually occupied by the stations.

Beyond these limits Spain had neither occupation not control.

Venezuela succeeded to Santo Thomé and the strip by the Orinoco, but she never ex-tended her territory there; her most advanced Post was at Kuriapo, 30 to 40 miles to the west of the Amakuru, until within the last few years, when she established Posts on the left bank of that river.

The Venezuelans in 1817 invaded the district in which the Missions were situated and massacred the missionaries; they held the district for a short time and then retired. In 1857 they returned to it, and have recently had an establishment opposite Uruan, and some settlements in the Mission district.

Beyond this the Venezuelans had never either occupation or control; the enormous con-cessions which their Government in 1884 affected to grant of the whole territory between the Orinoco and the Essequibo never were and never could be carried out. This territory was never in the power of Venezuela any more than of Spain, and unless it is under the control of Great Brit-ain, it must be abandoned to the few aboriginal Indians who roam through its forests.

The whole of this territory has, in law and in fact, for more than 200 years been in the occupation and under the control of the Dutch and the British. Their rights may conveniently be considered: first, with reference to the basin of the Essequibo and its tributaries; and, secondly, with reference to the coast, with the smaller rivers, and the Hinterland.

1. It is not disputed that the Dutch and the British have for centuries been in full posses-sion of a very considerable territory on both sides of the Essequibo below the point where it is joined by the Massaruni. It is submitted that, according to every principle of international law, this carries with it the right, to the whole basin of the Essequibo and its tributaries, except in so far as any portion of that basin may have been occupied by another Power.

The Power in control of so large an extent of territory round the lower course of a river such as the Essequibo, to which no other Power has ever had any access, and where no dominion other than that exercised by the Dutch and the British has ever existed, has a primá facie right to the whole of the river basin. Such right can only he rebutted by proof of actual occupation by another Power. There is not even a pretence of such occupation by Spain or Venezuela except as regards the territory in the neighbourhood of the Yuruari.

The title of the British to the basin of the Essequibo and its tributaries is greatly strengthened by the fact that the only permanent means of access to by far the greater part of the upper portion of this basin is by these streams themselves. The Power in control of the lower por-tion of the Essequibo therefore commands the whole of the basin of that river and its tributaries. The savannahs about the Upper Yuruari can, it is true, be approached from the Orinoco; but to the valley of the Cuyuni the only access always open through the dense forests until the last few years was by the Cuyuni itself, the Yuruari and the other tributaries to the north-west being im-passable during a great part of the year; and to the valleys of the Essequibo, the Rupununi, the Siparuni, and the Massaruni, the only access is by these streams.

But the presumption in favour of the British right to the basin of the Essequibo and its tributaries is converted into certainty when the facts are considered, which show actual posses-sion and control by the Dutch and by the British in nearly all parts of that basin. The lower banks of the Essequibo were lined with plantations, as were the lower part of the Massaruni and the Cuyuni above the falls. A Dutch Post was maintained at Arinda, far up the Essequibo, and on the Cuyuni, at one time so far up as to be in close proximity to the Spanish Missions. Dutch settlers were at the mouth of the Curumo. The timber-cutting on the Essequibo, Massaruni, and Cuyuni was controlled by the Dutch and British Governments. The Indian tribes were under Dutch and British influence and spoke Creole Dutch and English, and trade was carried on by the Dutch systematically and as of right along the courses of all these rivers. In short, the whole of this for-est region has, so far as in the nature of things could well be the case, been under the actual con-trol of the British and their predecessors in title, the Dutch, up to the savannahs of the Yuruari.

2. The facts are even stronger in favour of the British and British title in respect of the whole coast region from the Essequibo to the Amakuru.

The Dutch and the British have occupied this coast since the seventeenth century. The inland waterways throughout the district have been continuously under their control. There were Dutch settlements, traces of which still remain at Koriabo, on the Barima, and on the Aruka, its tributary, and at other places in the Barima district.

The Amerindian Captains were appointed by the Dutch and British Governments.

The Amerindians in the district up to the Amakuru speak English as well as their own language, and the Spanish language is not spoken by any Indian tribes excent the refugees from Venezuela, settled on the Moruka.

The Warows in 1767 took refuge in Barima from the oppression of the Spaniards, and the Indians there consider themselves and are treated as British subjects. The Dutch exercised jurisdiction in that district. In British times there is a long record of the systematic administration of justice by British Magistrates up to the right bank of the Amakuru. The only civilized Gov-ernment ever set up in the district has been that of the Dutch and the British. Timber-cutting has been licensed on the Pomeroon, the Moruka, the Waini, and the Barima by the Dutch and British Governments, and by them only.

The occupation and control of the coast would of itself carry with it, in the absence of any competing occupation, the right to the basins of the Rivers Pomeroon, Moruka, Waini, and Barima; but the evidence also establishes actual possession of the greater part of these rivers.

The British are therefore rightfully in possession of the whole coast, from the Corentin to the right bank of the Amakuru. It is submitted that in the absence of actual occupation by any other Power they are thus entitled to the whole hinterland of this range of coast, extending to the watershed constituted by the Pacaraima range, of which Mount Roraima, where the Cuyuni rises, forms part, and further east by the Akarai range, in which the Essequibo has its source.

If the work of delimitation be approached from the point of view of physical features, the case of the British Government is, it is submitted, equally strong.

Towards the coast the Amakuru constitutes the natural boundary between the territory occupied and controlled by the British and that occupied and controlled by the Venezuelans.

Further to the south the Imataka Mountains and the range of hills constituting the water-shed between the tributaries of the Orinoco and those of the Cuyuni and Massaruni form the boundary of the river basin to which Great Britain is primá facie entitled. But if it be considered that Venezuela is entitled to the region about the Yuruari, in which the Mission stations were situate, the Schomburgk line offers a boundary with every advantage of physical features, al-though its adoption would involve the loss to the British Colony of a large amount of territory on the left bank of the Cuyuni to which it is submitted Great Britain has established her title. The Schomburgk line is a natural boundary, and no other line short of the watershed between the Cuyuni basin and that of the Orinoco can be suggested which would be even tolerable, in point of physical features, except the variation suggested on p. 148 of this Case, which would give to Great Britain a considerable district between the Imataka Mountains and the Cuyuni.

On the whole it is submitted that the Case for Venezuela fails at every point, and that Great Britain has established the justice of her claim, and that she and her predecessors have been in occupation and political control of the territory in dispute for a period of more than 200 years.


One week after the final oral session, the Tribunal on the 3 October 1899, presented a unanimous Award which put an end to the border controversy that had lasted for over fifty-eight years - a controversy that nearly caused three countries (Great Britain and the United States of America and Venezuela) to go to war.

The verdict was read at the hearing room of the tribunal at the French Ministry of For-eign Affairs just after noon in the presence of the members of the tribunal, the counsel of the two parties, Sir Edmund J. Monson, British Ambassador to France, the entire staff of the British Em-bassy, and a large group of other people. After some preliminary remarks in which he announced that the decisions was arrived at unanimously, the chairman of the tribunal, Dr. de Martens, read the French text of the boundary award, after which D'Oyly Carte, private secretary to Baron Russell of Killowen, one of the British members of the tribunal, read the following English text:

"Starting on the coast at Point Playa, the frontier shall follow a straight line to the confluence of the Barima and the Maruima, thence following the thalweg of the latter to its source. Thence it shall proceed to the confluence of the Haiowa and the Amakuru; thence fol-lowing the thalweg of the Amakuru to its source in the Plain of Imataka; thence in a south-westerly direction along the highest ridge of the Imataka Mountains to the site the source at the Barima and the principal chain of the Imataka Mountains; thence in a southeast direction to the source or the Acarabisi.

"Following the thalweg of the Acarabisi to the Cuyuni, the northern bank of which it shall follow in a westerly direction to the confluence of the Cuyuni and the Vanamu; thence along the thalweg of the Vanamu to its westernmost source; thence in a straight line to the summit of Mount Roraima; thence to the source of the Cotinga.

"From this point the frontier shall follow the thalweg of the Cotinga to its confluence with the Takutu; thence along the thalweg of the Takutu to its source; thence in a straight line to the most western point of the Akarai Mountains, the highest ridge of which it shall follow to the source of the Corentin, otherwise called the Cutari River, whence it will follow the course of the river.

"It is stipulated that the frontier hereby deliminated reserves and in no way prejudic-es questions actually existing or that may hereafter arise between Great Britain and the Re-public of Brazil, or between the Republic of Brazil and Venezuela. In fixing the above deli-mitation, the arbitrators consider and decide that, in time at peace, the Rivers Amakura and Barima shall be open to navigation by the merchant shipping of all nations, due reserve being made with regard to equitable regulations and the payment of light dues and other like im-posts, on condition that the dues levied by Venezuela and British Guiana on ships traversing the parts of those rivers owned by them respectively shall be imposed in accordance with the same tariff on Venezuelan and British vessels. These tariffs are not to exceed those of all oth-er countries. The award proceeds also upon the condition that neither Venezuela nor British Guiana shall impose any customs duty on goods carried in vessels, ships or boats passing through these rivers, such customs being levied only on goods landed "upon Venezuelan ter-ritory or on the territory of Great Britain respectively."

After the reading, de Martens said it was a pleasant duty now to restore the former good understanding between the contending parties He then thanked his colleagues and the respective counsel, tendering on behalf of the tribunal special thanks for the hospitality extended to all by France. These sentiments he repeated in French.

Benjamin Harrison, the principal counsel for Venezuela, then made a few remarks, and was followed by Sir Richard Webster, principal counsel for Great Britain, who thanked the French Government for its hospitality, and said that Great Britain and Venezuela would work side by side in harmony.

The sitting was then adjourned.

The full legal text of the Award, which was earlier that morning completed and signed by all five judges, stated as follows:

Boundary between the Colony of British Guiana and the United States of Venezuela

WHEREAS, on the 2nd day of February, 1897, a Treaty of Arbitration was concluded between Her Majesty, the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the United States of Venezuela . . .

AND WHEREAS the said Treaty was duly ratified, and the ratifications were duly ex-changed in Washington on the 14th day of June, 1897, in conformity with the said Treaty;

AND WHEREAS since the date of the said Treaty, and before the arbitration thereby contemplated had been entered upon, the said Right Honourable Baron Herschell departed this life;

AND WHEREAS the Right Honourable Charles Baron Russell, of Killowen, Lord Chief Justice of England, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, has, conformably to the terms of the said Treaty, been duly nominated by the members of Her Majesty's Privy Council to act under the said Treaty in the place and stead of the late Baron Herschell;

AND WHEREAS the said four Arbitrators, namely: the said Right Honourable Lord Russell of Killowen, the Right Honourable Sir Richard Henn Collins, the Honourable Melville Weston Fuller, and the Honourable David Josiah Brewer, have, conformably to the terms of the said Treaty, selected His Excellency Frederic de Martens, Privy Councillor, Permanent Member of the Council of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, LL.D of the Universities of Cam-bridge and Edinburgh, to be the fifth Arbitrator;

AND WHEREAS the said Arbitrators have duly entered upon the said arbitration, and have duly heard and considered the oral and written arguments of the Counsel representing re-spectively Her Majesty the Queen and the United States of Venezuela, and have impartially and carefully examined the questions laid before them, and have investigated and ascertained the ex-tent of the territories belonging to or that might lawfully be claimed by the United Netherlands or by the Kingdom of Spain respectively at the time of the acquisition by Great Britain of the Colony of British Guiana:

Now, we the undersigned Arbitrators do hereby make and publish our decision, deter-mination, and Award of, upon and concerning the questions submitted to us by the said Treaty of Arbitration, and do hereby, conformably to the said Treaty of Arbitration, finally decide, award, and determine that the boundary-line between the Colony of British Guiana and the United States of Venezuela is as follows -

Starting from the coast at Point Playa, the line of boundary shall run in a straight line to the River Barima at its junction with the River Mururuma, and thence along the mid-stream of the latter river to its source, and from that point to the junction of the River Haiowa with the Amakura, and thence along the mid-stream of the Amakura to its source in the Ima-taka Ridge, and thence in a south-westerly direction along the highest ridge of the spur of the Imataka Mountains to the highest point of the main range of such Imataka Mountains oppo-site to the source of the Barima, and thence along the main ridge in a south-easterly direction of the Imataka Mountains to the source of the Acarabisi, and thence along the mid-stream of the Acarabisi to the Cuyuni, and thence along the northern bank of the River Cuyuni west-ward to its junction with the Wenamu, and thence along the mid-stream of the Wenamu to its westernmost source, and thence in a direct line to the summit of Mount Roraima, and from Mount Roraima to the source of the Cotinga, and along the mid-stream of that river to its junction with the Takutu, and thence along the mid-stream of the Takutu to its source, and thence in a straight line to the westernmost point of the Akarai Mountains, and thence along the ridge of the Akarai Mountains to the source of the Corentin called the Cutara River:

Provided always that the line of delimitation fixed by this Award shall be subject and without prejudice to any questions now existing, or which may arise, to be determined between the Government of Her Britannic Majesty and the Republic of Brazil, or between the latter Republic and the United States of Venezuela.

In fixing the above delimitation the Arbitrators consider and decide that in times of peace the Rivers Amakura and Barima shall be open to navigation by the merchant-ships of all nations, subject to all just regulations and to the payment of light or other like dues:

Provided that the dues charged by the Republic of Venezuela and the Government of the Colony of British Guiana in respect to the passage of vessels along the portions of such rivers respectively owned by them shall be charged at the same rates upon the vessels of Venezuela and Great Britain, such rates being no higher than those charged to any other na-tion:

Provided also that no customs' duties shall be chargeable either by the Republic of Venezuela or by the Colony of British Guiana in respect of goods carried on board ships, vessels, or boats passing along the said rivers, but customs' duties shall only be chargeable in respect of goods landed in the territory of Venezuela and Great Britain respectively.

Executed and published in duplicate by us in Paris this 3rd day of October, A.D. 1899.

(Signed) F. DE MARTENS

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As a result of the Award, Great Britain lost control of the mouths of the Amakura and the BarimaRivers, in addition to a large tract of territory in the upper Cuyuni basin. However, the Awardcoincided to a great extent with the Schomburgk Line.

Venezuela, too, did not get all that it wanted, but it obtained control of the mouth of the OrinocoRiver, described as "the very pith of the award" by American cartographer, Marcus Baker, who hadworked for the United States Commission on Boundary Between Venezuela and British Guiana.Writing in the National Geographic Magazine of April 1900 in the article "The Anglo-VenezuelanDispute", Baker, of the US Department of Geological Surveys, stated that former BritishGovernments had recognised the justice of Venezuela's claim to the mouth of the Orinoco,

...but since the British moved forward to this tract some fifteen years ago, and took possession by establishingpolice stations, issuing mining and timber licences, etc., Venezuela's efforts to induce her to withdraw from theOrinoco mouth have been unavailing. Nor could she drive her out. By the arbitration, therefore, Venezuela, theweaker power, gets something which is of much value to her, which she has always prized, which Great Britainpossessed herself of and the title to which she refused to arbitrate until after intervention. The very pith of theaward lie in the possession and control of the Orinoco Mouth. That Venezuela gets this is to my mind an act ofjustice, and a triumph for arbitration, which does much to reconcile to a decision which I wish were in all respectsas just as this.

In his article, Baker examined the principles of international arbitration in settling disputes. In relationto the Award of the Arbitral Tribunal, he stated:

In this award are involved two things: first, the sovereignty of a tract of country claimed by two nations; second,international arbitration as a mode of settling disputes. As to the first, the award is clear, sharp and decisive,though it will be contrary to general experience if difficulties of interpretation do not arise when the line issurveyed. As to the second, viz., the international arbitration of such questions, this is strengthened by theunanimous award, but weakened by the absence of written opinion setting forth the facts and principles uponwhich the award was reached . As the common law has grown up and been established by the opinions of greatjurists dealing with great cases, so here was, it seems to me, an exceptional opportunity to expound and establishprinciples of international law that would be most helpful in the future. The award is obviously the verdict of awidely disagreeing jury, which finally compromises on a line satisfactory to none. Such a decision concludes theparticular dispute but affords little light for the future.

Baker viewed the Award as a compromise. He quoted Justice Brewer as saying:

Until the last moment I believed a decision was quite impossible, and it was only by the greatest conciliation andmutual concessions that a compromise was arrived at. If any of us had been asked to give an award, each wouldhave given one differing in extent and character. The consequence of this was that we had to adjust our differentviews, and finally draw a line between what each thought right.

Nevertheless, according to press reports in both British and American newspapers immediately afterthe granting of the Award, Justice Brewer expressed the view that the British arbitrators wereprofoundly impartial and that they displayed a strict sense of justice throughout the entireproceedings of the Tribunal.


Immediately after the Award was made, both Benjamin Harrison and Severo Mallet-Prevost, two ofthe lawyers who represented Venezuela before the Tribunal, were quoted by the London Times ofthe 5 October 1899 as declaring that the Award was "Venezuela's victory". Mallet-Prevost wasemphatic about the "victory". He stated that the Award was of great value to Venezuela since itgranted that country the Orinoco estuary.

The official Venezuelan comment was that of general satisfaction, even though there were someexpressions of disappointment with the Award generated by newspapers in that country. The Britishpress also expressed disappointment over what it termed as Britain's "losses".

In a comment on the 7 October 1899, Venezuela's Ambassador to Great Britain, Andrade -- whowas also the brother of the then Venezuelan President -- revealed (according to a Guyana Ministryof External Affairs booklet, The Ankoko Affair, published in 1966): "...We were given theexclusive dominion over the Orinoco, which was the principal aim we sought to achieve througharbitration..."

According to the same publication, on the 4 May 1900, another senior Venezuelan Foreign Ministryofficial, Dr. Seijas, stated: "English newspapers endeavour to conceal their country's losses, thoughnot a few admit it and take pains to minimise it."

In agreeing that the Award was beyond question, Dr. Seijas also advised the VenezuelanGovernment, thus:

It is a very difficult matter for a state to deny recognising the validity of an act which it undertook by solemnagreement to regard as a full, perfect and definitive settlement of all questions submitted to the Arbitrators, asspecified in Article XIII of the convention concluded at Washington on February 2, 1897 between Venezuela andGreat Britain."

The United States of America was also satisfied. Just two months after the Award, President McKinley, addressing the United States Congress on the 5 December 1899, expressed the view that"the decision appears to be equally satisfactory on both sides". The Award was also supported byAndrew White, a member of the United States Venezuelan Boundary Commission which had beenappointed by President Cleveland in January 1896. The Ankoko Affair quoted White as sayingthat the Award of the Arbitrators was thoroughly just and that ... "It is with satisfaction that I findtheir award agreeing substantially with the line which, after so much trouble, our own Commissionhad worked out."


In keeping with the decision of the Arbitration Tribunal, a Mixed Boundary Commission appointedjointly by Venezuela and Great Britain, carried out a survey and demarcation, between 1901 and1905, of the boundary as stipulated by the Award. The British Commissioners were Harry InnesPerkins and Charles Wilgress Anderson while those of Venezuela were Dr. Abraham Tirado andDr. Elias Toro. The resulting boundary line was set out on a map signed by the BoundaryCommissioners in Georgetown, British Guiana, on the 7 January 1905. Three days later, thefollowing Agreement was published as a Sessional Paper of the Combined Court of Policy of theColony of British Guiana:


(Published as Sessional Paper No. 266 of the Combined Court, Annual Session, 1905)

In the City of Georgetown, Capital of the Colony of British Guiana, on the tenth (10th) day of themonth of January 1905, met together Harry Innes Perkins, Companion of the Imperial ServiceOrder of His Majesty King Edward VII, and Senior Commissioner of the Boundary Commission ofthe Colony with the Republic of Venezuela; Charles Wilgress Anderson, Second Commissioner ofthe same Colony; Doctor Abraham Tirado, Civil Engineer of the United States of Venezuela andChief of the Boundary Commission between that Republic and the Colony of British Guiana; andDoctor Elias Toro, Surgeon Doctor of the Illustrious Central University of Venezuela, and SecondCommissioner on behalf of that aforesaid Republic, with the object of stating in this Agreement theresults of their work in the demarcation of the Boundary between the territories, and

1st. Whereas the credentials which authorise them as lawful Representatives of their respectiveGovernments have been regularly presented and accepted in conformity with the powers therebyconferred, and

2nd. Whereas the journey has been accomplished from the Akarabisi River to Roraima Mountain,and all the Astronomical, Geodesical, and Topographical observations at all the most importantpoints along the Boundary line, as laid down by the Arbitral Award given in Paris on 3rd October,1899, were taken during the same journey; and

3rd. Whereas the special instructions given to both Commissioners impose upon them for sake ofgreater clearness, the necessity of stating on a General Map of the Boundary, the results of the workdone whereon can be seen all the details; and

4th. Whereas both Governments ought to possess authentic documents of like tenure which set forththeir respective rights in the territory which has been demarcated, they agree and declare:--

1st. Thatthey regard this Agreement as having a perfectly official character with respect to the acts and rightsof both Governments in the territory demarcated; that they accept the points mentioned below ascorrect, the result of the mean of the observations and calculations made by both Commissionerstogether or separately, as follows:--

Latitude N Longitude W.
of Greenwich
Akarabisi River Head 7 08 27.7 60 20 51.1
Akarabisi River Mouth 6 55 47.1 60 22 01.7
Camp No. 3 6 55 28.9 60 39 12.8
Camp No. 4 Awatabaru 6 47 04.8 60 46 36.3
Ekereku River Mouth 6 43 02.8 60 56 23.7
Wenamu River Mouth 6 42 40.9 61 08 00.7
Pathawaru, Wenamu River 6 26 02.3 61 07 54.1
Arawai Fall 6 19 36.5 61 09 22.1
Tshuau Village 6 11 45.8 61 07 22.1
Kuru Falls 6 03 42.5 61 16 46.6
Dead Man's Camp 5 58 06 61 22 55.7
Westernmost source 5 56 55.4 61 23 24.7
Paruima River Camp 5 51 01.7 61 03 08.1
Kamarang River Camp 5 43 27.2 61 04 13.5
Arriwa Matai 5 36 35 61 21 15.3
Yuranni River 5 11 00 60 58 36.5
Kamaiwawong Village 5 06 11.1 60 47 45.3
Boundary Mark Mt. Roraima 5 10 09.6 60 45 58.2

2nd. That the two maps mentioned in this Agreement, signed by both Commissioners, are exactly thesame, one for the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and the other for that of Venezuela,containing all the enumerated details related to the demarcation, with the clear specification of theBoundary line according with the Arbitral Award of Paris.

3rd. That they sign in their own handwriting four copies of this Agreement, two in the English andtwo in the Spanish language, to be delivered one copy in each language, to their respectiveGovernments.

(signed) H.I. Perkins (signed) Abraham Tirado

Senior Boundary Commissioner

(signed) C. Wilgress Anderson (signed) Elias Toro

Junior Boundary Commissioner


A concrete and positive acceptance of the boundary line was shown by the Venezuelan Governmentwhen in 1911 it published a map signed by F. Aliantaro, the Minister of Internal Relations. This map,published to commemorate the centenary of Venezuelan independence, showed the boundary line asdemarcated by the Mixed Boundary Commissioners six years previously. A similar map waspublished in 1917 by the Venezuelan Government.

In 1931 a boundary commission made up of representatives from Great Britain, Venezuela andBrazil made special astronomical, geodesical and topographical observations on Mount Roraima soas to fix the specific point where the boundaries of Brazil, Venezuela and British Guiana should meet.After diplomatic notes were exchanged among the three nations represented on the commission onthe 7 October and 3 November 1932, an agreement was finally reached on the specific location ofthe meeting point of the boundaries. The matter of the border was then considered permanentlysettled.

From time to time certain sections of the Venezuelan press and some politicians expresseddissatisfaction with the Arbitral Award of 1899. However, the Venezuelan Government remainedcommitted to it and, in 1941, the Venezuelan Foreign Minister reassured a representative of theBritish Government in Caracas that Venezuela was definitely of the opinion that the boundaryquestion was a chose jugee' -- a matter which was already settled. The Foreign Minister wasreplying to queries by the British representative concerning articles appearing in the Venezuelan pressat that time questioning the validity of the 1899 Award. According to The Ankoko Affair, theBritish representative confirmed that the Foreign Minister stated that the boundary was final andwell-defined and that the writer of the articles "had obviously never had access to the archives of hisMinistry".


Although the territory east of the Cotinga River bordered by the Takutu River on the south, and apart of the western tip of the Akarai Mountains were awarded to the Colony of British Guiana by theTribunal, Brazilian citizens, even before 1899, were crossing into these areas to settle -- even intothe Rupununi Savannahs -- which they felt were Brazilian territory. As a result, a Postholder andrural constables were appointed by the Governor of British Guiana to police the area. However, aperiod of lawlessness and near anarchy developed and this was not halted until the 6 November1901 when the Governments of Great Britain and Brazil signed an Arbitration Treaty by which theyagreed to submit the question on the boundary between Brazil and British Guiana to the King ofItaly, Victor-Emmanuel III.

The arbitration was conducted entirely by written case and argument, after the Italian King decidedthat it was unnecessary to hear oral evidence. Eventually the boundary Award was given in Rome inJune 1904.

By this Award, the area of territory bounded by the Cotinga River on the west, the Takutu River onthe south and the Ireng River on the east and north, was given to Brazil.

In accordance with this Award the boundary was demarcated in the 1930s by a joint team ofsurveyors from Brazil and Great Britain.

Significantly, this section of territory awarded to Brazil had been granted to the Colony of British Guiana, despite claims to it by Venezuela before the Arbitral Tribunal of 1898-1899. When Venezuela in 1962 officially renewed its claim to the territory west of the Essequibo River on the grounds that the 1899 Award was null and void, that nation did not make any claim, and has never since made any, to that section of territory handed over in 1904 by British Guiana to Brazil.