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Stabroek News asked Mr Rashleigh Jackson to reminisce on some of the events which took place during his tenure as Foreign Minister, and in which he played a role. The following is the first feature in a four-part series which will appear fortnightly.
The principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of states has been a cornerstone of international law and an important desideratum of state practice. States have traditionally held this principle dearly. The principle is enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, Article 2.7 which states inter alia "Nothing contained in the present Charter should authorise the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state..." Further, there are numerous resolutions of the United Nations which reaffirm this principle and call for its observance by states. As well, an initiative was taken by Guyana and other non-aligned countries in 1981 as a result of which the United Nations adopted a Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention and Interference in the Internal Affairs of States. This principle was invoked in 1979 in respect of Grenada. On March 13 that year, Maurice Bishop's New Jewel Movement staged a coup d'etat in Grenada and overthrew the government of Eric Gairy. That coup d'etat, which one Prime Minister of the then Eastern Caribbean Common Market countries described as a "coup de radio," evoked reactions in the Caribbean of both relief and concern. Relief, because the actions of Prime Minister Gairy, a self-styled mystic, had caused uneasiness among many CARICOM countries and peoples, and concern, because of the precedent which the Bishop coup, the first in a CARICOM country, would set in the region.
In the early afternoon of March 13, Maurice Bishop made contact by telephone with Prime Minister Burnham. Bishop indicated that he had tried to reach Prime Minister Manley but was unable to do so as Manley was reportedly otherwise engaged. He, however, spoke with Mrs Manley. The purpose of Bishop's call was to request support from Guyana and Jamaica. Prime Minister Burnham subsequently contacted Prime Minister Manley and proposed that there should be a meeting of CARICOM Foreign Ministers in Barbados. It was agreed that Guyana would contact St Lucia and Dominica whilst Jamaica would contact Prime Minister Adams who would be requested to make contact with Trinidad and Tobago. Prime Minister Burnham also discussed with Michael Manley his conviction that there should be no outside interference and that CARICOM should define a collective position on Grenada. Burnham indicated to Prime Minister Manley his intention to convey a position along these lines to the representatives of the ABC countries in Guyana - America, Britain and Canada - and suggested that Manley do likewise. That night, Burnham met separately with the three representatives and conveyed to them the position of the Government of Guyana, that the situation was an internal matter for the people of Grenada to decide, and that there should be no outside intervention. He informed them that CARICOM Foreign Ministers would meet to work a CARICOM response to the Grenada situation and he invited these governments to be guided by the decision of the CARICOM states.
Agreement was reached that a meeting of Foreign Ministers should be held in Barbados on March 14. I attended that meeting, accompanied by Permanent Secretary, Harry Dyett. The meeting was chaired by the Prime Minister of St Lucia, John Compton, as St Lucia was the current Chairman of the CARICOM Standing Committee of Foreign Ministers. Other Ministers who participated were Henry Forde, Foreign Minister of Barbados; Carlyle Dunkley, Minister representing Jamaica (PJ Patterson, the Foreign Minister of Jamaica was in Europe); and the Attorney General of Dominica, Leo Austin, who was in Barbados en route to London. Trinidad and Tobago did not attend on the ground that the situation in Grenada was complex and confusing and sufficient information was not available to it. Nevertheless, Trinidad requested that any additional information which the meeting may unearth be passed to it. In any event, Trinidad and Tobago held the view that recognition is accorded to states not to governments. The change in government in Grenada did not, therefore, require a specific act of recognition.
After considerable discussion, the meeting arrived at certain conclusions on principles and took decision for future action. The Ministers affirmed that the affairs of Grenada were for the people of that country to decide and that, as a result, there should be no outside interference. They recognised that the wider interests of the CARICOM region of which Grenada was an integral part, should also be taken into account. In this regard, they were of the view that a return to constitutionality was required, the continuing functioning of the Governor General being regarded as an important factor in the circumstances.
It was also observed that the overthrow of a government was contrary to the traditional methods of changing governments in the region. In this respect, they took note of the declaration of the leaders of the regime to hold free and fair elections in due course. The Ministers felt it was necessary to hold consultations with the regime in Grenada and, therefore, decided to extend the meeting into the following day. At that meeting, a representative of the Bishop regime, George Louison, was present. In the course of the consultation, Mr Louison was asked by one Head of Delegation when the regime intended to hold elections to validate the revolution. In a pithy response, Mr Louison asserted that elections cannot validate a revolution. He went on to say, however, that the regime was committed to holding free and fair elections, to a return to constitutional normalcy, and to fair play and justice in the society.
A novel idea was put forward by one of the participants for a return to constitutionality. He said that he put to Maurice Bishop a scenario which could lead to his constitutional appointment as Prime Minister. The idea was that the acting Prime Minister, Proudhomme, (Gairy was out of Grenada) would recommend to the Governor General, the appointment of Maurice Bishop as a Minister without Portfolio. Once that was done, Proudhomme would resign as a Minister and the Governor General would then appoint Maurice Bishop as Prime Minister. It was reported that Bishop was interested in the idea. Some leaders of delegations at the meeting expressed their support for the idea. Guyana was of the view that Bishop should confirm his position to the meeting. However, Proudhomme refused to cooperate. Despite lengthy conversations between the proposer of this idea and Proudhomme and Minister Hosten, both declined to support the idea. It was speculated that they were afraid that Gairy would somehow get at them.
After discussions with the representative of the regime, Mr George Louison, the Ministers agreed on a joint statement in which it was reaffirmed that the affairs of that country were for the people of that country to decide and, accordingly, there should be no outside interference. Ministers took note of the stated declaration of the leaders of the regime to hold free and fair elections as well as the intention to have the closest relations with CARICOM states. At the end of these deliberations, the Ministers announced a consensus reflecting the following positions:
a) It was for the people of Grenada and CARICOM to find solutions.
b) Adherence to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of states was reaffirmed.
In the result, no country from outside the region intervened directly in Grenada at that juncture. During the two days I was in constant contact with Prime Minister Burnham, and Maurice Bishop called me frequently.
Grenada, naturally, remained a matter of continual interest for CARICOM. The issue of Grenada re-emerged dramatically on the CARICOM agenda in October 1983 when the revolution imploded and Maurice Bishop and some of his comrades were killed. The then Chairman of CARICOM, Prime Minister George Chambers of Trinidad and Tobago, responded to the developments by inviting his CARICOM colleagues to Trinidad and Tobago for consultations. President Burnham, having considered the invitation with some of his advisors, accepted it. He, however, proposed that the meeting commence in the evening of the date proposed by Prime Minister Chambers in order to enable him to fulfil some prior commitments in Guyana. Burnham decided that I should go to Trinidad ahead of the rest of the delegation to ascertain the thinking of delegations, to gather information on the evolution of the situation in Grenada gleaned especially from sources in Trinidad.
When I arrived at the Hilton Hotel where the delegations were housed and the meeting held, I met in the courtyard our Ambassador to Venezuela, Mr Rudy Collins, who was vacationing in Trinidad. I invited him to be a member of the delegation. After the Ambassador checked into the hotel, we began talking to delegations which were already there. Later we met others as they arrived. Among them were one Head of Government and two Foreign Ministers. Discussions were also held with non-ministerial members of delegations, members of the media and others in the Trinidad society. As a result of those conversations, the following information was obtained and assessment made:
a) the OECS countries had held a 45-minute meeting in Barbados with Prime Ministers Adams and Seaga of Barbados and Jamaica, respectively. At that meeting, the decision was taken to impose a number of sanctions against the regime of General Austin.
b) A military intervention was being contemplated and planned.
c) Prime Minister Price was met by Prime Ministers Adams of Barbados and Seaga of Jamaica at Grantley Adams Airport, Barbados, while en route to Port-of-Spain. He was appraised of the intervention plans and lobbied to contribute troops. He declined the invitation.
It appeared that an invitation from the OECS states to the United States of America to participate in an OECS-sponsored expeditionary force was agreed as the way forward.
It was also reported that Venezuela was contacted by one Head of Government to contribute troops. It was understood that Venezuela was, however, reluctant to do so. It was also learnt that Prime Minister Cato of St Vincent and the Grenadines was of the view that contact should be established with the Austin regime, had in fact proposed to do so but was discouraged from pursuing that course of action. There were also indications that the Bahamas would be against any military invasion should the issue arise at the CARICOM Summit.
At the meeting, many of the above ideas were raised. As it turned out, Guyana, the Bahamas, Belize and Trinidad and Tobago were against any military action whereas Barbados and Jamaica were clearly in favour of the OECS countries issuing an invitation to the United States of America to join with them in an invasion of Grenada. Mr Seaga was alleged to have told one Head of Government that the United States and the United Kingdom were in favour of such an invasion. Among the OECS countries, the Prime Minister of St Vincent suggested the taking of preliminary steps such as establishing contact with the regime as well as prominent citizens in Grenada with a view to getting a better assessment of the situation. He was also in support of a fact-finding mission. The agreement of Prime Minister Simmonds of St Kitts to an invasion was conditional upon certain other steps. Late that night, the Chairman announced consensus on a number of elements, including the following general principles:
a) no involvement of any external elements in the resolution of the Grenada situation;
b) the resolution of the Grenada situation should be wholly regional (CARICOM) in nature;
c) the regional solution pursued should not violate international law and the United Nations Charter;
d) any proposed solution should have as its primary focus the restoration of normalcy in Grenada.
A specific conclusion enumerated a number of measures designed to effect a restoration of normalcy in Grenada.
Some OECS countries, particularly St Lucia, were clearly unhappy with aspects of the consensus. The St Lucia position was that sanctions without the use of force would be ineffective and greater emphasis should be placed on the wider security implications of the continuation in office of the Austin regime. The question of Cuban involvement in the affairs of Grenada and the possibilities that existed for training in subversion were also raised. These factors inspired a call for the complete removal of the Austin regime. Despite this impassioned plea, however, the consensus which was announced by the Chairman was allowed to remain and it was agreed that discussion the next day would be centred around the implementation of the measures agreed upon including possible candidates to form a CARICOM Provisional Government.
The resumption of the meeting the following day was delayed at the request of the OECS states to enable them to have further consultations among themselves, Barbados and Jamaica. On the resumption, the OECS states, through their spokesman, the Prime Minister of St Lucia, indicated that they were still unhappy with what had transpired the night before. Regarding the earlier discussions as informal, they sought to deflect attention away from the consensus. On his part, Prime Minister Seaga denied that he had been part of a consensus. It became clear that the consultations between the OECS states, Barbados and Jamaica had led to a conclusion that the consensus should not be allowed to go ahead and that their earlier plans for military invasion with the involvement of the United States should neither be sidetracked nor impeded. As was subsequently revealed, the OECS countries allegedly invited the USA, Barbados and Jamaica, to join them in a military intervention in Grenada.
The shift from adherence to the principle of non-intervention to support for intervention as well as participation in such an act on the part of some leaders of CARICOM, is all the more remarkable when it is recalled that a mere eleven months before the invasion of Grenada, the Heads of Government of CARICOM at their Summit held in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, had pledged to respect "the principles of non-interference and non-intervention in the internal affairs of other countries."
The USA, of course, has a long history of intervention in the hemisphere. Does the involvement of some CARICOM states in the US-led military intervention in Grenada have troubling implications, especially regarding US expectations of the future behaviour of CARICOM states in similar situations? This question is today most pertinent in the light of the US-led war against terrorism in respect of which there are already at least two worrying developments. The first is the elasticity in interpretation attached to the concept of self-defence - going beyond the scope of and, indeed, violating Article 51 of the UN Charter which reads as follows:
"Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore internal peace and security."
Israeli action in Palestine readily comes to mind. The second is the US contemplation of a pre-emptive military strike against Iraq. Is the pre-emptive strike to become a legitimate option in the security strategy of all nations possessing the capacity to exercise it, and to do so without the authorisation of the UN?
The independence of East Timor
The independence of East Timor was proclaimed at midnight on May 20, 2002; and thus the people of East Timor regained their freedom and independence which had been snatched from them by Portugal in its colonial project launched more than 500 years ago. The lifting of the East Timor flag represented the end of one phase of the long and bitter struggle of the East Timorese people for their freedom and independence.
Portuguese colonialism had earlier been in retreat from the assaults upon it in Africa by the liberation forces of PAIGC of Guinea Bissau, FRELIMO of Mozambique and MPLA of Angola. In fact it was the freedom struggle of the people of those countries which spawned the officer coup in Lisbon that ushered in democracy in Portugal. As colonialism was coming to an end in East Timor through the efforts of the liberation movement, Fretelin and others, the process was interrupted when Indonesia, which had its covetous eyes on the territory, invaded the territory in 1975. Guyana had fully supported the struggle of the East Timor people for independence and had warned about the Indonesian invasion. Speaking at the General Assembly in 1975, Foreign Minister Fred Wills, said:
"Guyana follows with keen interest the struggle for independence in East Timor. We support the liberation movement in East Timor. We call upon those forces which may wish to intervene in an attempt to redirect the course chosen by the East Timorese to desist from any activity which would violate the right of the people of East Timor to self-determination."
Ramos Horta, who in those days was the representative at the UN of the liberation movement, Fretelin, and I spent many hours discussing the consideration of the East Timor issue by the UN and strategised how Guyana, along with other non-aligned states, could help advance the cause of the Timorese people in the Security Council. Horta is now Foreign Minister of East Timor. In his book Funu on the saga of East Timor, Horta records that Ambassador Salim [of Tanzania] and I were his country's "most effective allies" in the Security Council.
Indeed, when the Security Council considered the question of East Timor in April 1976 in the light of the continued occupation of the territory by Indonesia and the atrocities committed by its forces, it was Guyana which introduced the draft resolution (on behalf of Guyana and Tanzania) which was later adopted by the Security Council. Guyana had also been heavily involved in the drafting of the earlier Security Council resolution adopted in December 1975.
Why did Guyana take such a keen interest in the fortunes of the East Timorese people? There are two principal reasons. Firstly, as a matter of policy, Guyana ardently supported the struggle against colonialism. It therefore gave wholehearted support to colonial peoples struggling for their independence and the recovery of their freedom and dignity. Secondly, but no less importantly, Guyana took fully into account its own circumstances, where in light of the Venezuela claim to two-thirds of Guyana's territory, there was the possibility of further aggression and annexation as happened with Ankoko. As a matter of policy therefore, Guyana supported peoples whose territories were coveted by neighbours, especially larger ones - East Timor in the case of Indonesia, Belize by Guatemala and Western Sahara by Morocco and Mauritania. Incidentally, all three cases were on the agenda of the UN in 1975 when Guyana was a member of the Security Council. In addition, Guyana strongly supported the principle of non-acquisition of territory by force. That was why Guyana so forthrightly and unequivocally supported the Palestinian people whose territory continues to be illegally occupied by Israel. Further, it was deemed to be in Guyana's interests to support the United Nations whenever it sought to promote respect for the rule of law.
The UN was not, however, as effective as it might have been on the independence of East Timor, especially after the Indonesian invasion in 1975. In December of that year, the General Assembly of the UN adopted a resolution which, inter alia, (a) called upon all states to respect the inalienable rights of the people of Portuguese Timor to self-determination, freedom and independence... (b) strongly deplored the military intervention of the armed forces of Indonesia in Portuguese Timor and (c) called upon the Government of Indonesia to withdraw without delay its armed forces from the territory. When the Security Council considered the matter later that month, it adopted unanimously a resolution which deplored the intervention of the armed forces of Indonesia in East Timor and also called upon the Government of Indonesia to withdraw its forces without delay.
But the foregoing does not tell the whole story. In the negotiations on the text of the resolutions, many countries objected to the use of the language of condemnation of Indonesia preferring "to deplore" instead. Even so, 43 countries abstained on the resolution in the General Assembly, among them a number of Western, Muslim and Asian states. The fact is that the interests of countries friendly and sympathetic to Indonesia collided with those of the East Timorese people who were made to suffer as a result.
In the Security Council, Guyana was deeply involved in negotiating the text of resolutions on East Timor adopted in 1975 (unanimously) and in 1976 (the USA and Japan abstained). Compromise language had to be employed in an effort not to attract a veto. The role of Guyana and other non-aligned members of the Council was highly appreciated. The Italian representative for example, said the following: "I wish to pay a sincere and well-deserved tribute to the representatives of the United Republic of Cameroon, Guyana and the United Republic of Tanzania who are the main authors of the resolution..." Once again they have shown... a remarkable spirit of understanding and cooperation vis-a-vis other delegations, including my own, and a great sense of responsibility..."
A word about the position of the USA. President Ford was in Indonesia on a state visit two days before the invasion. The White House Press Secretary acknowledged that President Suharto had raised the matter of East Timor in very general terms. The corridors of the UN were rife with rumours that the invasion had an approving nod from the US administration, in which a principal participant was Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, whose fingers were in quite a few unsavoury pies. Indeed, in February 1976, Daniel Moynihan, the Permanent Representative of the USA said to me that the USA was "on the wrong side" on the issues of East Timor and Western Sahara.
In his book on his sojourn at the UN entitled A Dangerous Place, Moynihan recorded his views in these words:
"In both instances [East Timor and Western Sahara] the United States wished things to turn out as they did, and worked to bring this about. The Department of State desired that the United Nations prove utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook. This task was given to me, and I carried it forward with no inconsiderable success."
However, peoples' quest for independence, can in the final analysis, only be delayed. It can neither be extinguished nor be forever postponed. In the case of East Timor, the people never wavered in their resistance to the brutal Indonesian occupation. This and a gathering storm of opposition in Indonesia to the Suharto regime led to its downfall. It was not surprising therefore that a referendum held in East Timor in 1999 under the auspices of the UN gave overwhelming support for independence. At the celebrations to mark independence, President Gusmao called for "tolerance to affirm democracy, reconciliation to affirm unity" an exhortation which should find resonance in Guyana.
The United Nations administered East Timor for nearly three years preparatory to independence. In that process, a number of Guyanese served with distinction. Included among them were Dr Faith Harding, Dr Gem Fletcher and the former Chief of Staff of the GDF, Mr Norman McLean. Further, UN volunteers from a number of countries which were always supportive of the independence of East Timor throughout the dark years of Indonesian occupation, participated in the UN exercise.
I believe that Guyana has political and diplomatic assets with East Timor. Guyana's participation in the independence celebrations in East Timor last May may have therefore been useful. Firstly, Guyana could have used the opportunity of its presence at the independence celebrations to build solidarity alliances so as to attract and secure East Timor support for Guyana's causes, more particularly those relating to our territorial integrity.
Secondly, as regards the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbon deposits, East Timor, under the guidance of the UN concluded a treaty with Australia covering the exploration and exploitation of oil and gas resources in the area between the two countries, an area called the Timor Gap. Contact could have been established with a view to Guyana gaining insights from the Timorese experience for possible use in Guyana's ongoing discussions with Suriname.
It is my hope that the assets acquired can redound to Guyana's benefit as relations with East Timor are developed.
The United Nations: Dream and reality
As my interest in international affairs deepened over the years, I became increasingly enamoured by the potential of the United Nations (UN) in, what is today referred to as, global governance. Founded as it was on the ashes of the Second World War in the twentieth century, it inspired widespread hope for a world in which all peoples could live in peace and security, free from the ravages of war, with a prospect of reasonable socio-economic development and in which the rights of individuals would be guaranteed in law and respected in practice. The preamble to the Charter of the UN embodied these aspirations, while the provisions of the Charter itself spelt out the purposes and principles of the UN, and the institutional infrastructure for the realisation of those aspirations. Among these was that decision making would be based on the majoritarian principle, except in the case of the Security Council where certain decisions would require unanimity. These features led to my belief that the UN had eminently worthy goals and that small states like Guyana could influence the outcome of decisions at the UN and make a contribution to its work. I saw the UN as playing an important role in the pursuit of Guyana's national interests especially in the fields of security (having regard particularly to Venezuela's claim to two thirds of our territory) and development.
My friend Dr Cedric Grant recalls that when we were students at Leicester University in the early 1960s, once when discussing current affairs, I told him that an ambition of mine was to represent Guyana at the UN. My appointment in 1973 as Permanent Representative of Guyana to the UN was therefore for me the realisation of a long held desire.
During the five years I spent at the UN (1973 to 1978), in addition to participating in the regular activities of the UN, like all other representatives of member states, I served in 1974 as President of the UN Council for Namibia, and represented Guyana on the Security Council in 1975 and 1976. I was accordingly actively involved in the discussions and conclusions on a wide range of issues - admission of new members, international economic cooperation, including the North/South dialogue and economic cooperation among developing countries, major political issues such as the Middle East situation and the Palestinian question, decolonisation especially in Africa, Cyprus, reform of the UN system and peacekeeping. There were also several special sessions of the General Assembly devoted to specific subjects such as the New International Economic Order (NIEO).
The Movement of Non-Aligned Countries and the Group of 77 in which Guyana played an active role, were also much involved in the business of the UN at that time. I derived much satisfaction from my involvement in the deliberations in many of the issues and my participation in and contribution to the outcomes. Naturally the positions I advanced were in pursuit of Guyana's national interests. I will describe and examine two cases which illustrate how timely initiatives and the grasping of favourable opportunities can be helpful in facilitating desired outcomes.
The first case relates to the use by India and Bangladesh of the waters of the Ganges river during the dry season. In 1976, Bangladesh sought and obtained the inclusion on the agenda of the UN of an item entitled 'Situation arising out of unilateral withdrawal of Ganges waters at Farakka.' Both India and Bangladesh depend on the waters of the Ganges but for different purposes.
In 1971, India completed at Farakka the construction of a barrage to enable it to control and regulate the flow of water with a view to reducing siltation in the port of Calcutta. On the other hand, Bangladesh needed water primarily for irrigation and claimed that the way in which India operated the barrage, left it with insufficient quantities of water. Ministerial talks were held between the two countries but these were inconclusive. Bangladesh was of the view that a dead end had been reached, hence its recourse to the UN where the issue was assigned to the Special Political Committee to which Guyana was Rapporteur. Both India and Bangladesh made statements in the debate with the latter introducing a draft resolution of its own.
A number of ambassadors wished to see the issue between two neighbouring non-aligned countries settled otherwise than through debate at the UN. This is moreso, when regard is had to the circumstances surrounding the creation of Bangladesh and the not insubstantial role India had played in it. After a few days of speeches in the Committee, the prospect of reaching an agreement satisfactory to both sides did not appear propitious. As a result, I raised with Ambassador Rahal of Algeria, with whom I had worked closely, especially when Algeria was Chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement (1973-1976), the idea that, as representatives of non-aligned countries, we offer good offices to the two parties to assist them to reach a mutually satisfactory conclusion at the UN. He agreed. Ambassadors (Egypt, Sri Lanka and Syria) of other non-aligned countries shared the idea and operated informally as a 'Group of Friends' to maintain contact with India and Bangladesh. Ambassador Rahal and I made contact with the Ambassadors of Bangladesh and India, both of whom gave their support to such an initiative. We engaged the two delegations in substantive discussions initially seeking to narrow differences between them, but having as the ultimate objective, an agreement for the resumption of bilateral negotiations.
So important was the issue to the two countries that they sent special delegations from their capitals to handle the matter. From New Delhi came a delegation headed by Foreign Secretary Jagat Mehta, whereas the Bangladesh delegation from Dacca was headed by an Admiral Khan of the Bangladesh Navy. Ambassador Rahal and I had several engagements separately with India and Bangladesh but the more we pursued the matter, the more we got the feeling that the differences were seemingly intractable. We were, however, encouraged by the two parties to continue our efforts although there was little discernible movement towards a resolution. In addition, there was talk in the corridors that Bangladesh was being urged by some western countries to take a tough stand with India. However, a chance encounter provided a catalyst for movement towards agreement between the two sides. As the debate in the Special Political Committee was coming to a scheduled close, I was invited to a private dinner. A Bangladesh journalist, Mintoo Khan, was present at that dinner. He informed me that he was a member of the Bangladesh delegation which came from Dacca to handle the Farakka issue. He and I had a long exchange of views on the course of the debate on the barrage issue and the public positions adopted by the two sides. Our discussion lasted for more than an hour, during which, I outlined the steps which Ambassador Rahal and I had taken and the considerations which had led us to pursue such action. I told him that we had ideas on what was a reasonable outcome that, in our view, took account of the essential interests of the two parties. I gave him my assessment that Bangladesh was not being sufficiently flexible. I urged that the agreement to be reached at the UN should be essentially about the resumption of bilateral negotiations leaving the matter of quantities of water and related issues to those negotiations. I felt good about the exchange of views as Mr Khan seemed by his body language to acknowledge the merit of my arguments and suggestions. The next day I received a call from Admiral Khan, leader of the Bangladesh delegation. He asked to see me urgently. We met at the United Nations. The Admiral indicated that he did not know what I had said to journalist Khan the night before. However, at the Bangladesh delegation meeting that morning the journalist was less hostile and more amenable to reaching an accommodation with India. I learnt from Admiral Khan that Mintoo was an influential journalist who publicly took a hard line on the issue of the Farakka barrage. Many years later, in 1989, I met Mintoo in China when I was paying an official visit to that country. He was stationed there as the Ambassador of Bangladesh.
With the change in the Bangladesh position it became possible for India and Bangladesh to agree on a text on which Ambassador Rahal and I had been working. The document was given to the Chairman of the Special Political Committee where it was adopted as a consensus statement. Bangladesh withdrew its draft resolution.
The main elements of the consensus were as follows:
* The parties recognised the urgency of the situation, particularly with the onset of another dry season.
* Both parties agreed that the situation called for an urgent solution and, to that end, have decided to meet urgently at Dacca at the ministerial level for negotiations with a view to arriving at a fair and expeditious settlement.
* The parties asserted that the prime objective of such intensified contact was to promote the well-being of their peoples and agreed to facilitate the establishment of an atmosphere conducive to the successful outcome of the negotiations.
* The parties undertook to give due consideration to the most appropriate ways of utilising the capacity of the United Nations system.
* It is open to either party to report to the General Assembly at its thirty-second session on the progress achieved in the settlement of the problem.
Ambassador Rahal and I were thanked privately by both Bangladesh and India for the very helpful role we played. We continued to show interest in the efforts of the two countries to reach agreement on the substantive issue. It was therefore gratifying to learn that Bangladesh and India held negotiations in April 1977 and reached "an understanding." Earlier, Professor Mohamed Shamsul Huq, the member of the Advisory Council of President Rahman of Bangladesh in charge of Foreign Affairs, in his address at a Non-Aligned Ministerial Meeting in New Delhi expressed "special thanks" to the non-aligned nations for the active interest taken by them at the UN to help the parties arrive at a consensus statement.
The second case concerns the election of the Secretary General. There were two occasions when I was involved - one when I was Permanent Representative and the other when I was Minister of Foreign Affairs. The first occasion was in 1976 when the term of Kurt Waldheim, who was elected in 1971, was coming to an end.
A word on the procedure for the election of a Secretary General. In accordance with the provisions of Article 97 of the Charter of the UN: "The Secretary General shall be appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council." The issue is therefore first considered by the Security Council where each of the five permanent members has a veto. When there is more than one candidate, lobbying is intense. The disposition of the permanent members is crucial because of their possession of the veto. Further, it is widely believed that some permanent members have criteria of their own. For example, it is said that France requires that a candidate be fluent in French in order to attract her support. The process of election can be quite acrimonious. However, once the Security Council recommends a candidate, the General Assembly usually approves.
In October of 1976, Salim Salim of Tanzania, Mansour Kikhia of Libya and I discussed informally the election of the Secretary General which was due to take place before the end of the year. Our countries were then members of the Security Council. We agreed to carry out soundings to ascertain whether Waldheim intended to seek a second term and whether other candidates were forthcoming. The overall objective was to avoid (or minimise) the anxieties and dislocations which can attend the election of a Secretary General. Our consultations revealed that Waldheim wished a second term, that there was no major objection to him though the Chinese said that it was time for a Third World candidate, and that there were no other candidates. In the result, the Security Council decided unanimously on December 7, 1976, to recommend to the General Assembly that Mr Kurt Waldheim be appointed Secretary General for a second term.
The second occasion was the election in 1981. During an official visit which he paid to Guyana in 1980 in his capacity as President of the General Assembly, Salim Salim discussed with me, his aspirations to be elected Secretary General and sought my advice on the strategy to be used in promoting his candidature. It was agreed that his endorsement by OAU was not only desirable but necessary. As regards a demarche on the permanent members of the Security Council, I recalled that for the election in 1976, China had taken the position that it was then time for a Third World person to be Secretary General and undertook to find out from the Chinese whether they maintained that position for the 1981 elections. I accordingly sent a message to the Chinese Foreign Minister, Huang Hua, (who had earlier served as Permanent Representative of China to the UN) enquiring whether China maintained that position. In response, the Foreign Minister enquired whether I had a candidate in mind. Replying in the affirmative, I indicated that the candidate was from the Third World but was not yet ready to announce his candidature, and that the decision would be influenced by the Chinese position. (In any event, Salim was well known to the Chinese, having served as Tanzania's Ambassador to China at the age of 21 and as Chairman of the UN Committee on Decolonisation, the Committee of 24.) I got an affirmative reply. Salim subsequently launched his candidature and received the endorsement of the OAU. There were several candidates and the elections were very contentious. Balloting in the Security Council took place more than 100 times. Salim was not successful. However, China vetoed non Third World candidates. In the result, Perez de Cuellar of Peru was elected as Secretary General.
The optimism which I took with me regarding the UN and its potentialities was tempered by my experience of its functioning in practice.
The members of the organisation are states - "peace loving states" in the language of Article 4 of the Charter. Whatever may have been the expectations of the founding parents of the UN of the behaviour of the "peace loving" member states in the new organisation, one of their assumptions may have been that the cooperation evident during the 1939-1945 war between the states which emerged victorious would be carried over to peace time and manifested at the UN. This was not to be. The Cold War profoundly altered the international environment. Confrontation rather than cooperation became the order of the day. The UN became a Cold War front, and the positions major powers took on some issues were influenced by Cold War considerations, the objectives being hurting the other side, whatever the matter under consideration.
In the early years of the UN, the western victors could muster a majority of votes in the General Assembly when it was considered important so to do. To my mind, the most celebrated occasion was in 1950 when on a US proposal, the General Assembly adopted a resolution, the "Uniting for Peace" resolution, the objective of which was to circumvent a Soviet veto in the Security Council. In time, however, the post colonial states became a majority, and sought to promote an agenda which gave pre-eminence to decolonisation and kindred political issues as well as many-sided international cooperation for development. They endeavoured to prevent a situation arising in which issues and principles of deep concern to them were continuously held hostage to super power rivalry. As these states pursued their common interests at the UN their actions in solidarity with each other came increasingly under criticism during the 1970s. Ambassador John Scali of the USA used the rather colourful phrase, "tyranny of the majority" to characterise their operations. Inevitably, the primacy of the use of power in the relations between states was reflected in the conduct of business at the UN. That, notwithstanding, there was room for the exercise of the power of logic, in contradistinction to the logic of power, for moral suasion and for the demonstration of effective solidarity even though some wielders of power constantly sought to deride such manifestations and to engineer the steady erosion of the majoritarian principle. It was the intelligent use of the room that enabled small states like Guyana, not possessing the accoutrements of traditional power, to play a constructive role at the UN, to benefit from it and to influence outcomes in it. Despite its imperfections, the UN has remained an indispensable instrument for global governance. As someone once said, "If the UN did not exist, it would have to be invented."
Relations with Suriname
When I was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs in February 1978, there was considerable tension in the relations between Suriname and Guyana. Among the developments which caused this situation were the seizure, by Suriname authorities, of Guyanese fishing boats using the Corentyne river and the arrest by the GDF for fishing illegally in Guyana's fishery zone of a Suriname-registered Korean trawler, Sugam 26. My predecessor, Fred Wills, had visited Suriname earlier in the year, with the objective of settling these matters. The visit was not successful.
Efforts were continued through the normal diplomatic channels to have these issues resolved to the satisfaction of both Governments. However, before this could be done, Suriname authorities arrested several Guyanese citizens travelling on the Corentyne river, to engage in the peaceful pursuit of their traditional balata bleeding operations. This action exacerbated the tension between the two countries. An official protest was made to the Suriname Government because citizens of both countries ought to enjoy user rights on the river without molestation. In the protest note, Guyana reiterated that it wished to settle outstanding difficulties peacefully and that it remained willing to pursue policies aimed at the development of friendly and cordial relations with the Government and people of the Republic of Suriname. It was also indicated that the Government of Guyana was prepared to resume the dialogue, which had been initiated during the visit by Foreign Minister Wills.
The contacts through diplomatic channels did not lead to an early resolution of the problem. However, in July 1978, the Prime Minister of Suriname and I were in Brasilia for the signing of the Treaty of Amazonian Cooperation and we took the opportunity of our presence there to discuss issues which were the cause of the tension in our relations and to review the relations between the two countries generally, with a view to establishing a sound basis on which those relations could be conducted in an orderly and predictable way.
As regards the Guyanese fishing boats, and the Korean trawler, Sugam 26, the Prime Minister and I agreed on procedures for effecting their return. These procedures ensured compliance with the legal requirements in each country (and they were different). Even so, snafus of a bureaucratic nature emerged but were overcome with the help of private citizens (lawyers) in Guyana and Suriname. In August, the Corentyne river was reopened, the Guyanese fishing boats were released and Sugam 26 returned. Dr Cheddi Jagan, then leader of the Opposition, had paid a visit to Suriname in August and held discussions with leading personalities in the Surinamese Government and society. On his return, it was claimed that the impasse was resolved by him (see editorial of the Mirror of Sunday, September 3, 1978). However, at a press conference held by Prime Minister Arron, he denied that the visit by the Leader of the Opposition to Suriname had in any way influenced the decisions. Further, he confirmed that the decisions which were taken, resulted from the discussions he and I had in Brasilia.
In Brasilia, other specific issues were discussed and understandings reached. It was agreed that negotiations should be conducted for the conclusion of a fisheries agreement, which would inter alia permit trawlers from the two countries to fish in each other's fishery zone. There was also agreement that efforts would be made for a meeting between the two Prime Ministers before the end of the year. Other matters discussed were the desirability of a Suriname diplomatic presence in Georgetown; the need for a settlement of the boundary between the two countries, though it was acknowledged that this matter could be pursued at a summit meeting. It was also agreed that a communique would not be issued. Subsequently, there was movement on all the issues discussed.
Both sides desired a meeting at the prime ministerial level. Arrangements for a summit were therefore pursued through diplomatic channels. It was agreed that the meeting should be held neither in Georgetown nor in Paramaribo. In the result, with the concurrence of Prime Minister Adams of Barbados, a decision was taken to meet in Barbados. That meeting was held in April 1979. The atmosphere was good and the discussions frank and cordial. The exchange of views was conducted in a friendly manner and a good spirit was developed. On the substantive side, agreement was reached on a number of issues including the establishment of a Suriname Embassy in Georgetown, action to be taken in relation to the Kabalebo Hydroelectric Project in Suriname, the establishment of a ferry service on the Corentyne river as a joint venture on a fifty-fifty basis, on illicit trade and on arrangements and mechanisms for dealing with the border issue. Those agreements were contained in a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the two leaders. Prime Ministers Burnham and Arron had two more summit meetings in June in Georgetown and in November in Paramaribo. Thus, in the space of seven months, the two Prime Ministers met on three occasions, a remarkable and unprecedented display of summitry. Overall, the results of the summits were good and served to build trust and confidence.
On the substantive side, several agreements covering cooperation in the fields of culture and science, fisheries, economics and technology were concluded. Both sides held the expectation that the agreed programme, if implemented, could produce a firm basis for a lasting regime of peace and harmony between the two countries. This process was, however, interrupted in 1980 when a military coup occurred in Suriname. Thirteen years later, when I was on a private visit to Suriname, Mr Arron, who was no longer in Government, said to me that he was convinced that the relations between Guyana and Suriname would have developed smoothly and cooperation intensified if the process which he and Burnham had initiated had not been interrupted by the military coup.
A close personal relationship developed between Burnham and Arron. This was manifested beyond the affairs of state. I recall an occasion when Burnham received a private message from Suriname to the effect that Arron, who was imprisoned by the authorities, was being denied his medication. Burnham who was clearly concerned about the health of his friend, asked me to raise the issue with the Suriname authorities on humanitarian grounds.
It was several years before another summit meeting between Guyana and Suriname took place. However, in the meantime, there were various exchanges between foreign ministers and other governmental functionaries. I made several visits to Suriname and Suriname's foreign ministers visited Guyana. However, the annual meetings of the UN General Assembly as well as meetings of multilateral fora provided opportunities for discussions on the relations between the two countries. Two of these had special significance. The first was a meeting I had with Foreign Minister Andre Haakmat, in New York on October 2, 1982. At that meeting, there was manifested a common desire for the development and maintenance of friendly relations between the two countries. I stressed the guiding principles and objectives of Guyana's foreign policy emphasizing mutual respect, non-interference in internal affairs, and good neighbourliness. I reminded the Minister that in diplomatic exchanges after the events of February 25, 1980 the authorities in Suriname were given the assurance that there was no change by Guyana in the basic principles which governed the conduct of its relations with Suriname. I urged that whatever the circumstances, it was necessary, in the interest of good neighbourly relations, to seek to have a regime of peace and understanding between Guyana and Suriname. The Foreign Minister of Suriname asserted that a primary goal of his government was to strengthen relations with Caribbean and Latin America with priority being given to relations with Guyana. He made a proposal for the appointment of a Commission to oversee all aspects of Guyana/Suriname relations. In seeking clarification of the proposal, I enquired whether there was need for a new Commission and asked whether it would not be preferable at that stage to ensure that existing monitoring mechanisms were made to work. In the result, the proposal was not pursued. However, Foreign Minister Haakmat expressed his desire to ensure that existing agreements were implemented recognizing that some, for example, the fisheries agreement, were still to be ratified by Suriname.
The second occasion was on October 4, 1986, when I met Commander Bouterse in New York during the session of the General Assembly of the UN. There I put to him the idea that confrontation was too dominant an ethic in the relations between Guyana and Suriname and suggested that, instead, the two countries should seek to put those relations firmly into a cooperation dynamic. In that regard, I suggested that a change in the nomenclature of our mechanisms for cooperation might be helpful in shaping attitudes and orientations. I accordingly proposed the idea of a Cooperation Council, to coordinate all efforts for cooperation. Bouterse seemed attracted to the idea. The concept of the Cooperation Council, its objectives, composition and level of representation, were agreed upon during a visit to Guyana in November 1986, by the Foreign Minister of Suriname, Mr Hendrik Herrenberg.
Meetings at a summit level were resumed in 1989 when President Shankar paid a state visit to Guyana. On the border issue, the Presidents outlined their positions and agreed that discussions on the matter "should be pursued by the relevant Commission as a matter of priority." In reiterating the commitment of their Governments to strengthen their bilateral relations, the Presidents inter alia agreed to foster closer co-operation in land, sea and air transport, energy and communications. An agreement dealing with cooperation on narco-trafficking and related activities was signed. President Shankar expressed the view that his visit "marked an important milestone in the development of the relations between the two countries."
President Hoyte paid a return state visit to Suriname in August 1989. During that visit, one of the important areas agreed upon was that of the exploitation of hydrocarbon deposits in the maritime space, the area of overlap, which both Guyana and Suriname claimed. In this regard, the Presidents agreed "that pending settlement of the border question, authorities responsible for petroleum development in the two countries should agree on modalities which should ensure that the opportunities available between the area of the north eastern and north western seaward boundaries of Guyana and Suriname respectively, can be jointly utilized by the two countries." On the question of the Kabalebo Hydroelectric Project, the communique recorded the position as follows, "President Shankar informed President Hoyte of the decision of the Government of Suriname to proceed with the realization of the Kabalebo Hydroelectric Project. President Hoyte reiterated support for the project and expressed Guyana's willingness to cooperate fully for its implementation."
The matter of petroleum development was also reflected in agreed minutes signed by Foreign Minister Sedoc and myself. Those minutes repeated what the communique contained in this respect but added the following "the two sides recognized that there exists the potential for problems with respect to petroleum development between the area of the north eastern and north western seaward boundaries of Guyana and Suriname respectively" and went on to state that "they further agreed that with respect to concessions already granted within the said area, by one or all of the parties, such concession shall not be disturbed. Appropriate modalities shall be put in place for ensuring that arrangements satisfactory and beneficial to both countries are reached."
Subsequently, representatives of Staatsolie and the Guyana Natural Resource Agency, the petroleum authorities on the two sides, met and discussed the implementation of the Hoyte/Shankar agreement. A Memorandum of Understanding was concluded in February 1991 and signed, on the Guyana side by Dr Cedric Grant, the Special Advisor to President Hoyte on Foreign Affairs and on the Suriname side, by Mr Harold Kolader, the Suriname Ambassador to Guyana. This Memorandum of Understanding however is not accepted by Suriname today on the ground that it was not ratified by the Suriname Parliament.
Tension between the two countries increased dramatically in 2000 when the Surinamese authorities forcibly ejected from the area of overlap, the drilling rig of a Canadian company (CGX), which was operating under a licence granted by Guyana. The granting of the licence by Guyana and the eviction of the rig by the Suriname military authorities also heightened passions and stirred nationalistic fervour in the populations of the two countries. This situation was a replication of one, which occurred in 1969, when the Defence Force evicted Surinamese armed personnel from an area in the New River Triangle called Camp Jaguar by Guyana and Tigri by Suriname. Quite passionate responses were evoked in both countries. These two episodes taken together, highlight the sensitivities of the populations about the border - especially the location of the boundary in the maritime space and the ownership of the New River Triangle. The earlier mentioned issues concerning the use of the Corentyne river by Guyanese fishermen and balata bleeders also illustrate the importance of the border, in all its aspects, in shaping and influencing the relations between the two countries.
Over the years, there have been numerous occasions on which Guyana and Suriname have agreed to hold discussions on settling the border between the two countries. Such discussions, which have taken place, have not been sustained; they have been desultory and inconclusive. In the wake of the CGX imbroglio, CARICOM appointed the Prime Minister of Jamaica as a Facilitator to assist the two countries to find a way out of the impasse. The Prime Minister sought to get the two countries to agree on an approach to resolving the border issue in all its aspects and to the restoration of normalcy in the relations. Despite the Prime Minister's endeavours, however, agreement proved elusive. Efforts at developing programmes of economic and functional cooperation have been rather more successful. Nevertheless, in reviewing the attempts of Guyana and Suriname, historically to build structures of cooperation, it seems clear that two major factors have bedevilled them. The first is the uncertain nature of the border arrangements. The second is the intention and capacity to implement agreement that had been freely negotiated and arrived at between the two countries.
The two countries are now engaged in discussions again on the utilization of the resources in the area of overlap in the maritime space and the settlement of the border in its entirety. Already, there have been slippages in the time-tabling of meetings. Having regard to the strength of feeling by the respective populations and the firm and apparently intractable positions adopted by both sides as well as the history of past efforts, the question should be asked: can solutions be found by bilateral negotiations alone? I am not sanguine about the prospects. While efforts at the bilateral level are being pursued, the countries should, in my view, begin to recognize that at some time, maybe sooner rather than later, they may need to seek third party involvement in order to reach a conclusion satisfactory to both sides. In other words, the two sides should begin to contemplate making use of existing international machinery and mechanisms to find a solution to the boundary problem.
As regards the boundary in the maritime space, both countries are signatories to and have ratified the UN Law of the Sea Convention. That Convention contains mechanisms for the settlement of disputes such as the one between Guyana and Suriname over maritime space. It would therefore seem eminently reasonable and logical for the two countries to consider utilizing the provisions of that UN Convention for the settlement/determination of the maritime boundary. As regards the land boundary, the OAS, I believe, has a mechanism for helping member states to solve border problems. It was used effectively in the Peru/Ecuador dispute. Further, the OAS operates a Peace Fund, which member states can access. If Guyana and Suriname wish to pursue the OAS option, approaches can be made to members of the OAS, which has a capacity so to do, to dedicate monies to the Peace Fund to be available to Guyana and Suriname for use in settling their border problem. Additionally, there is the possibility of recourse to the International Court of Justice or some other arbitration tribunal. It is well known that recourse to such organizations/tribunals incur significant costs. The two countries could consider approaching the UK and the Netherlands, their former colonial masters, who after all, bequeathed the problem to them because they were unable to solve it, although they appeared on the verge of doing so when the Second World War broke out in 1945.
I am convinced that it would be easier for the people of both countries to accept settlement terms, which are arrived at by processes and procedures, regarded as independent and/or which employ a judicial approach. Relations with Venezuela
Relations with Venezuela have always occupied a prominent place in the articulation and implementation of Guyana's foreign policy. The main reason for this is not difficult to discern. Disregarding the 1899 Arbitral Award on the basis of which the boundary between Guyana and Venezuela was legally established and demarcated, Venezuela, in 1962, resuscitated a claim to the Essequibo Region i.e. two thirds of Guyana. But that was not all. The methods employed by Venezuela to prosecute its claim embraced aggression (the military occupation of the Guyana half of Ankoko Island), subversion (the Talyhardat affair) and economic and other forms of pressure, all in violation of norms of international law, in general, and the Geneva Agreement (GA), in particular. On Guyana's part, a pillar of frontiers policy was the maxim, especially relevant for small states, that one can choose a friend but cannot change a neighbour, while an important tenet of national policy was upholding the sanctity of treaties and as a consequence the need to respect them scrupulously.
For Guyana, the fundamental objective as regards Venezuela, in so far as its claim was concerned, was the resolution of the controversy as defined in the GA. While seeking a resolution however, Guyana was concerned that the controversy should be managed in such a manner that aggression could be deterred, and a state of permanent confrontation avoided; and that simultaneously projects of economic and functional cooperation could be undertaken for the benefit of the two peoples in the hope that the development of a network of relations along those lines would assist in creating conditions which would facilitate the search for resolution of the controversy. In other words, relations with Venezuela were pursued along parallel tracks, one requiring vigilance for the defence of Guyana's territorial integrity and a search by diplomatic and political means for a resolution of the controversy by peaceful means and, the other the promotion of economic and functional cooperation between different sectors of the Guyanese and Venezuelan society. In this enterprise, diplomacy was the first line of defence as well as an important vehicle for promoting cooperation. In practice, the relations between the two countries oscillated between a tendency towards conflict and a tendency towards cooperation.
In the ebb and flow of the relations between Guyana and Venezuela, the above mentioned oscillation was clearly manifested on occasions of Presidential discussions as well as at times when action was required pursuant to legal instruments applicable to the border controversy i.e. the GA and the Protocol of Port of Spain (PPOS).
This article will look at some Presidential visits, which represented high points in the cycle encompassing confrontation and cooperation and examine one occasion when action relating to a legal instrument had a profound influence on the relations between the two countries. Reference here is made to the termination of the PPOS in June 1982. This article will describe and analyse Guyana's responses to the challenges. Based on those occurrences and experiences, suggestions will be offered on options for action, taking into account, the possible realization of the long announced visit to Guyana of President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.
The first Venezuelan President to visit Guyana was Carlos Andres Perez. In preparation for that visit, I was invited to go to Caracas to have discussions with President Perez. I did this on my way back from Brasillia where I had travelled to sign the Treaty of Amazonian Cooperation in July 1978. While in Brasilia, I held discussions with Foreign Minister Consalvi of Venezuela and finalised arrangements for my visit to Caracas. I had a two-hour breakfast meeting on July 07 with President Perez. Others present were Foreign Minister Consalvi and Ambassador Rudy Collins. The discussions ranged over a number of international issues but the burden of the conversations was the President's visit and the preparations for it. The timing was agreed upon, as was the fact that major substantive issues to be raised were the controversy and the Upper Mazaruni Hydroelectric Project.
At the time of my visit to Caracas, there was much discussion in the media about the Venezuelan need for what was called an "access to the Atlantic". This subject was mentioned by President Perez as one to be considered during his visit. As far as I am aware, the issue is still on Venezuela's radar. As regards the Upper Mazaruni Hydroelectric Project the President enquired of the position of the IMF and the World Bank on it and held out the prospect of Venezuela participation in it as well as utilisation of power from it.
President Perez saw himself as a President who could resolve the controversy. He assessed the time of his Presidency, as propitious having regard inter alia to the fact that the Protocol of Port of Spain was not due to expire until 1982. He obviously saw himself as a visionary, one who would be accorded a prominent place in Venezuelan history. President Perez visited Guyana in October and was well received.
President Perez raised the question of Venezuela gaining access to the Atlantic in private conversations. Questions were asked and clarifications sought but there was no real discussion. On Upper Mazaruni, President Perez gave some measure of support, a position that he repeated at a Press Conference. Although no dramatic results were achieved, the visit took place in good spirit and a cordial atmosphere and laid the basis for economic and functional cooperation.
Both Guyana and Venezuela were conscious of the fact that come June 18, 1982, the PPOS would be automatically renewed for a further period of 12 years unless either country took action to terminate it in accordance with the provisions of Article IV (3). In 1980, Venezuela's Foreign Minister Zambrano and I discussed in New York the state of relations between our two countries. He wanted to focus on what he called "the basic issues of substance", by which he meant the frontier, rather than the PPOS itself, whereas on Upper Mazaruni he repeated what became a refrain of the Campins Administration `the matter was being studied'.
The next year, informal discussions were held about the disposition of the two countries on the future of the Protocol. These discussions confirmed that the Venezuelan domestic political situation was such that the government might not be disposed to the renewal of the Protocol. It was in this context that President Burnham accepted the invitation of President Luis Herrera Campins to pay a state visit to Venezuela early in 1981. Meanwhile, in an interview, which he gave to the Venezuelan newspaper El Diario de Caracas, President Burnham made it clear that his objectives for the visit were limited to initiating a dialogue on the PPOS and the Upper Mazaruni Hydroelectric Project. During the visit, on April 02 and 03, discussions were held on international and bilateral issues. The bilateral issues naturally included the future of the PPOS. On this issue, the Venezuelan side made reference to opinions within Venezuela, which were not in favour of its renewal. However, there was agreement that further consultations would take place at the Ministerial level within the context of the relevant legal instruments - the GA and the PPOS. The Venezuela side was informed of developments with the Upper Mazaruni hydrolectric Project including the fact that the World Bank had assessed it as technically and economically feasible. The discussions were frank and cordial though efforts to agree on a communique were unsuccessful.
The day after President Burnham's return to Guyana, April 04, the President Palace in Caracas issued a statement which was combative and belligerent and out of kilter with the temper of the discussions. In the statement, Venezuela's unjust claim to the Essequibo Region was reiterated. Venezuela's rejection of the Upper Mazaruni Hydroelectric Project was announced and its unwillingness to extend the PPOS expressed. The thrust of the statement raised the question of the factors which caused its issue. Was it Venezuela's intention to use the visit to escalate tension for domestic political reasons? Was it pre-saging a Venezuelan intention to put pressure on Guyana and to influence decision-making after the PPOS came to an end? During the discussion, President Burnham as he did at Press Conferences in Caracas and in Georgetown on his return, drew attention to a consequence of the Venezuela contention of nullity of the 1899 Award. He pointed out that if the Award was indeed invalid as Venezuela contended (which it wasn't), Guyana would be free to renew its claim to the Amakura and Barima, extending to the mouth of the Orinoco River and to territory in the upper reaches of the Cuyuni River given to Venezuela by the Award. The interpretation clearly took the Venezuelans by surprise. They seemed shocked because they had always proceeded with what appeared to be an unshakable belief in the invalidity of the 1899 Award and did not appreciate such a consequence of their contention of invalidity of the Award.
I was informed that President Burnham's revelation did not sit well with the Venezuelan public and that the media regarded it as a manifestation of arrogance. It was also claimed that the revelation aroused and/or intensified anti-Guyana feelings in Venezuela. The Guyana programmes for dealing with the Venezuelan claim therefore had to be modified. As a result of these developments and bearing in mind the fact that the Protocol was due to expire June 1982, Guyana took steps to sensitize the Guyanese public to the developments, to alert it to the possibility of the further escalation of tension and to secure national support for the territorial integrity of the country. Internationally, Guyana had traditionally relied on diplomacy as a means of blunting the aggressive activities of Venezuela and of attracting support for its cause.
The international community was therefore made aware of the dangers Guyana faced, dangers which inhered in the way in which Venezuela prosecuted its case. In this connection, it should be recalled that it was as a result of Venezuela's calculated action, before Guyana's independence, that a clause was inserted in the Charter of the OAS which had the effect of excluding Guyana from membership of that organization and as a consequence, being denied access to the resources of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Active diplomacy by Guyana succeeded, in time, in removing these impediments.
Bearing in mind that Venezuela used the forum of the United Nations in 1962 to resuscitate its claim, it was anticipated that Venezuela would have recourse to the UN once more at the end of the Protocol. Venezuela in fact did so. Indeed, in the aftermath of the nefarious Campins communique, Venezuela undertook various hostile and provocative acts. The Minister of Youth at the time, one Brewer Carias, boasted that he led a team of youths across the border and thus violated the integrity of Guyana's territory. He said as well that his actions had the approval of his President. The Foreign Minister of Venezuela sent a letter to the World Bank expressing Venezuela's opposition to the Upper Mazaruni Hydroelectric Project on the ground that the facility would be located in the area it claimed.
On Guyana's part, a mission of senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs travelled to other Caricom countries to give Heads of Government a confidential briefing on the situation with a view to maintaining their support for Guyana. Venezuela also sent missions throughout the Caribbean and to Central America. Further afield, Guyana used the occasion of the Commonwealth Meeting in Melbourne, Australia in September/October 1981 to inform Commonwealth members and secured a very strong statement of support for Guyana's position. Similar support was received from the Non-Aligned Movement. At the bilateral level, special attention was paid to the USA, the hemispheric paramount, Brazil, which has an unchallenged border with Guyana, Colombia, with which Venezuela has a territorial dispute, and the UK, Guyana's former colonial superintendent. Space does not allow me to describe and analyse the actions Guyana took with all of the above mentioned countries. I will do so however, in respect of the UK in the special circumstances of her being a signatory to the GA and the PPOS. The UK had, in asserting support for Guyana's territorial integrity, given the assurance that the land title it bequeathed was flawless and secure in international law.
However, in the mid 1970s when the British economy was under stress like so many others, the prospect emerged that with the UK having an interest in a larger share of the Venezuelan market which was expanding as a result of the dramatic rise in oil prices, Venezuela might induce moderation in the British commitment. For this and other reasons, Dr Cedric Grant, Guyana's High Commissioner to the UK, put together, as a lobbying mechanism, an informal group of "Friends of Guyana" comprised of corporate stakeholders such as Jock Campbell and Michael Caines, Bookers luminaries, and parliamentarians from across the ideological spectrum who had a connection with Guyana and/or had manifested unequivocal support for Guyana's position vis-à-vis Venezuela. Sir Ralph Grey, a former Governor of British Guiana, who was a member of the group, was an indefatigable advocate of Guyana's cause. Among the activities of the group was the tabling of questions in parliament which elicited responses confirming that there was no backsliding in the position and commitment of the UK government.
Lobbying efforts were extended to the Guyanese community especially, but not exclusively, to those who were active in British political life whether at the national, municipal or local level. This resulted in representation being made to members of parliament to champion Guyana's position and thereby exert desirable influence on British policy. This "constituency" cut across ethnic gender and class lines in the protection of the Guyanese patrimony.
1982 was the year in which the PPOS came to an end after which the GA came into operation again in accordance with which the two governments were required to take action leading to a choice of means of peaceful settlement of the controversy. Even as Guyana and Venezuela were considering their options, a dramatic development which took place in the hemisphere impacted on Guyana/Venezuela relations. Argentina invaded the Falklands Islands in April 1982. Venezuela supported Argentina and Guyana the UK, for the use of force by Argentina could not be condoned by Guyana. In Venezuela, the atmosphere was redolent with jingoism. Nationalistic feelings reached fever pitch. The media was rife with opinions calling for the emulation by Venezuela of the Argentine action, for the "recuperation" of Essequibo. Fortunately, the turn of events was favourable to Guyana.
As anticipated, Venezuela reiterated its claim at the United Nations in 1982. In doing so, Venezuela took the opportunity to announce that it "has formally applied for full membership in the Movement of Non-Aligned countries". When this application was considered at a meeting of Foreign Ministers of Non-Aligned Countries in October 1982, Guyana reserved its position on the application on the ground that actions taken against it by Venezuela in prosecuting its territorial claim were inconsistent with the principles and policies of non-alignment. Guyana received support from members of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries. In the result, a decision was taken requesting the Chairman of the Movement (Cuba) to continue his valuable contacts with the representatives of Guyana and Venezuela with a view to reaching a satisfactory outcome. This decision reflected Guyana's standing and influence in the Non-Aligned Movement and was a setback for Venezuela.
Meanwhile, the Guyana stand on the Argentine invasion served to reinforce the work of the abovementioned group of Friends and the Guyanese constituency and to remove any suggestion of ambiguity about the disposition of the UK government on the controversy.
In Guyana, additional efforts were made to consolidate national consensus. A motion was adopted in Parliament in July. The motion, inter alia, rejected the untenable claim by Venezuela to territory of Guyana; directed the Guyana Government to seek the support of the international community through and at all forums including the United Nations; and resolved that the National Assembly constitute a Parliamentary Committee to be known as the "Parliamentary Committee on the Territorial Integrity of Guyana". The Committee had representatives from the People's National Congress, the People's Progressive Party and the United Force and it kept under constant review, the evolution of the situation in the wake of the termination of the PPOS.
The fulfillment of the process mandated by Article IV of the GA by the referral to the Secretary General of the UN of the choice of means of settlement of the controversy was accompanied by a diminution of tension between the two countries. Other factors such as election campaigning in Venezuela may have acted as a distraction and contributed to an improved atmosphere. President Lusinchi who assumed power after the elections eschewed the confrontation rhetoric of the previous Administration and sought to improve the relations between the two countries. It was during his Presidency that certain economic and functional cooperation arrangements were put in place involving bauxite and petroleum and a line of credit. When President Hoyte paid a state visit to Venezuela in 1987, President Lusinchi applauded "progress... made towards rapprochement and cooperation" between the two countries. President Perez visited Guyana a second time in 1990 while one day visits by President Hoyte were also made to Venezuela at Puerto Ordaz and Canavayen to hold discussions with President Perez. It was during the second Perez Presidency that it was agreed to suggest to the Secretary General that he consider using `good offices' as the means for the settlement of the controversy; and to adopt additional measures to strengthen cooperation. One such measure was a non-reciprocal Partial Scope (Trade) Agreement. Here again parallel tracks were operating, with efforts being made to manage the controversy and to promote economic and functional cooperation.
Over the last decade and a half, the oscillation between tension and cooperation in the relations between Guyana and Venezuela has continued and the efforts of Venezuela to deter foreign investment and involvement in Essequibo, though not always successful (witness Omai, Barama and Iwokrama), have not abated. Can this state be changed? This cannot be effected by Guyana alone. On Guyana's part however, there has to be national resolve and, despite the political and other polarizations in the society, a measure of national unity, which hopefully should not be difficult to achieve on this issue. An indispensable prerequisite is the devising of appropriate strategies and thorough and thoughtful planning. There must first be sensitization and mobilization of the Guyanese people for the challenges and the tasks. In this respect I recall that some years ago, President Jagdeo had announced that Moses Nagamootoo who was then the Minister of Information and Dr Dale Bisnauth, then Minister of Education, were tasked with developing programmes for sensitizing the population at large and school children in particular on the territorial integrity of Guyana. These programmes should be activated or reactivated, whichever is appropriate. Further, in August 2002, President Jagdeo had appointed a Presidential Advisory Committee on National Borders. Is the Committee functioning or just comatose, or has the project been abandoned? In this connection, overcoming the obstacles to the establishment of a Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Affairs should be given high priority. Simultaneously, international support for Guyana's cause should be mobilized multilaterally and bilaterally. A change of the above mentioned oscillation will require helpful action on Venezuela's part. Two mechanisms are available for inviting Venezuelan responses -the good officer process and a state visit by President Chavez.
Guyana has always contended that actions by Venezuela to object to and prevent the involvement of foreign economic interests in Essequibo are in violation of Article V of the GA as indeed are other provocative postures. In this regard, at the time of the signing of the PPOS in 1970, Foreign Minister Calvani of Venezuela and Foreign Minister Ramphal of Guyana reached an understanding "that each Government would abstain from any statements, publications or other acts which could be detrimental to the economic development and progress of the other's state." Venezuela has clearly not honoured this undertaking. Two other characteristics of Venezuela's attitude and behaviour with respect to the controversy have marred the prospects for its settlement. The first is the resolute refusal of Venezuela to prove its contention of nullity of the 1899 Award. The second is a penchant to deny reality. Two examples will suffice. The Meeting of the Standing Committee of Caricom Foreign Ministers held in Grenada in June 1981, adopted a communique, which affirmed support or Guyana's territorial integrity and expressed full support for the Upper Mazaruni hydroelectric Project However, agents of the Venezuela Government denied the existence of the communique. Further, a special envoy of President Herrera Campins was reported to have said, "I can say with absolute tranquility that there has been no such resolution." The second is taken from the letter Foreign Minister Zambrano sent to the World Bank regarding the Upper Mazaruni Project. In that letter, the Minister asserted that Venezuela "never recognized" the 1899 Award.
I suggest that the good officer process be used to procure an ascertainment of whether the abovementioned activities of Venezuela are in violation of the GA. One way of proceeding is for the Secretary General of the UN to obtain an Advisory Opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
The greatest fillip to the relations between the two countries would be the application of closure to the controversy. What are the possibilities? Another means of peaceful settlement can be chosen. Reports indicate that Belize and Guatemala have settled their longstanding dispute. The agreement may hold lessons for Guyana and Venezuela. Former President Perez is reported to have made a suggestion regarding the renunciation of the claim by Venezuela. Can this be explored?
It was announced sometime ago that President Chavez will pay a state visit to Guyana. It is not know whether a date has been fixed for such a visit or whether the President's problems in Venezuela as well as the negative consequences of some of his foreign policy adventures will permit him to visit Guyana in the near time. A visit by President Chavez could provide the opportunity for discussions on several issues and ideas including the foregoing.
There is however another dimension. It may be prudent to be reminded that in times of domestic turmoil, leaders have been known to undertake external encounters in order to divert attention from domestic problems and to mobilise internal political support. President Chavez seems at the moment to be encountering considerable internal difficulties and may be encouraged by nationalistic and xenophobic elements to seek an external adventure and to consider Guyana in this respect.
What is the disposition of President Chavez? What is his objective vis-à-vis Guyana? Since the claim was resuscitated in 1962, every Venezuelan President, Caldera (twice), Perez (twice), Campins, Lusinchi and now Chavez, has maintained it and has prosecuted it albeit with varying degrees of intensity. Today's circumstances of Venezuela appear to have a number of factors which limit the capacity of President Chavez to take action for a resolution of the controversy in a manner satisfactory to Guyana. Only he can judge whether he can overcome those limiting parameters.
The way forward requires courage and statesmanship. Will the leadership in the two countries respond adequately?
During my service as a diplomat and as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Guyana enjoyed a high reputation in the international community. We were very active in international affairs, playing an influential role in the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries and participating constructively at the UN and in other international bodies. The positions we took were respected and our views and support frequently sought. Importantly, as well, over the years a cadre of dedicated professional diplomats had been developed, comprising persons who played a prominent role in the articulation and execution of foreign policy. Such was Guyana's standing internationally that in 1981, despite not offering itself as a candidate, it faced the prospect of being elected as a member of the Security Council in the place of a declared candidate. It became necessary for the members of the General Assembly of the UN to be officially informed that Guyana was not a candidate.
A feature of multilateral diplomacy is the quest by countries for representation and elected positions for their representatives on organs of international bodies. Usually, much lobbying for support is required for the fulfilment of such aspirations. Some successful candidates, however, regard the election as the prize and are lacklustre in their performance. They do not act in accordance with what I call the 'doctrine of responsibility.'
This article describes how Guyana discharged its responsibility as President of the Security Council and as President of the UN Council for Namibia and gives some indication of how Guyana's role was assessed by members of the international community.
The Security Council
Non-permanent members of the Security Council are elected for a two- year term. Guyana became the first Caricom country to sit on the Security Council when it was elected as a member for the years 1975 and 1976.
The President of the Security Council is the only non-elected President in all the organs of the United Nations. By the rules of procedure, the Presidency is rotated monthly in the English alphabetical order without distinction between permanent and non-permanent members.
The rules of procedure specify the tasks to be performed by the President, and enumerate the standard functions of a President - presiding over meetings; calling upon representatives to speak in the order in which they signify their desire so to do, etc. However, the functions of the President go beyond those.
Over the years, practices have been developed on how the President functions. An important aspect of the role of the President is his involvement in negotiations to determine outcomes of deliberations and discussions. In this respect, there must be trust and confidence in the President by other members of the Council, by poles of informed influence within and outside of groups, and by the parties involved in a conflict.
As is the case with any Presidency, the possession of certain qualities would enhance a President's capacity to effectively discharge his responsibilities. These include patience, objectivity, tact, perseverance and the demonstration of good leadership skills, being sensitive to the views of others, and a will to seek compromises and accommodation between divergent views, ie endeavouring to achieve consensus without suppressing important viewpoints. It would help as well if the President has a good temper, discretion, and a sense of justice and fair play and if he is perceived to be even handed. The President should also be accessible to members of the Security Council at all times, day and night.
When Guyana became a member of the Security Council, frequent use was made of the mechanism of informal consultations before the summoning of formal meetings. The purpose of such consultations was to encourage the convergence of views and attitudes towards a decision. The procedure permitted candid exchanges of views and the clarification of different approaches and perceptions leading to possible compromises before firm and hard positions are publicly expressed.
The issues discussed during Guyana's Presidency were:
* In 1975, the Middle East, South Africa and the admission of Angola as a member of the United Nations. In addition a debate on Namibia, was initiated towards the end of May 1975 but concluded in the following month.
* In 1976, the issues considered were Cyprus and rights of the Palestinian people.
As regards the accessibility of the President, I will relate one experience. Long after midnight on May 15, 1975, I received a telephone call from a staff member of the United States UN Mission, indicating that he had an urgent letter to be delivered to me in my capacity as President of the Security Council. At that time, I lived in upstate New York and suggested to the caller that the letter be delivered to my Deputy, Mr Miles Stoby, who lived in Manhattan. The caller said that his instructions were to deliver the letter to the President. I accordingly received a letter from the Permanent Representative of the United States, Mr John Scali, concerning what was referred to as "the illegal and provocative seizure by Cambodian authorities" of a United States merchant vessel, the Mayaguez. The letter contained the information that the United States "had taken certain appropriate measures under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations the purpose of which [was] to achieve the release of the vessel and its crew," and the request that it (the letter) be circulated to the members of the Security Council.
The Security Council adopted resolutions on the Middle East, Cyprus and South Africa after intensive and wide-ranging consultations. As regards Palestinian rights and the admission of Angola, however, resolutions were not adopted as the United States exercised its veto.
A word on the Cyprus issue which concerned the renewal of the mandate of the peacekeeping forces there, which mandate was due to expire during June. I had conducted informal consultations over a long period and felt the resolution I drafted was acceptable to the members of the Council as well as the interested parties. However, minutes before the formal meeting was due to commence, I received word that some of the parties involved had changed their positions and were objecting to some of the terms of the draft resolution. The Secretary General urged me to delay putting the draft resolution formally to the Council until he had a chance to undertake consultations especially in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus. However, his efforts to contact Archbishop Makarios, the President of Cyprus, were unsuccessful. In the wake of the Secretary General's failure I summoned a full meeting of the Council. The resolution was adopted as drafted.
What was interesting was that the parties which had expressed objections, publicly praised the President for his handling of the matter and for his efforts in putting together the resolution. A colleague of mine who came from the area said to me subsequently that I had received first-hand experience of what was called "the Balkan roulette." That resolution was repeated in almost exact terms in subsequent years and became known informally as the 'Jackson Resolution.'
It is customary that when new representative take their seats on the Security Council, the members welcome them and their countries. This practice is also in evidence at the end of a Presidency. Member states comment on the conduct of the Presidency. Such presentations sometimes have a ritualistic ring as if being made as a courtesy and out of habit. There are, however, occasions when the appreciation expressed appears genuine. A few examples of such statements are given to illustrate the appreciation of Guyana's representatives, of the recognition of Guyana's role at the United Nations, indeed in international affairs generally. The examples chosen come from comments made by representatives of the USA, Sweden, Tanzania and Venezuela.
Speaking on June 29, 1976, Ambassador Sherer of the USA said this:
"I should like to add my voice to those of other members of the Council who have expressed their highest admiration for Ambassador Rashleigh Jackson's very able conduct of the pressing affairs of the Council this month."
In June 1976, Ambassador Salim of Tanzania made the following presentation, "Those of us who have had the pleasure in experiencing at close quarters your outstanding personal qualities of diplomatic acumen, negotiating skill and personal warmth, have indeed not been surprised by the very able competent and effective manner in which you have brought our present debate [on Cyprus] to a fruitful conclusion. That we have been able to adopt a resolution at the eleventh hour is in no small measure due to your untiring, patient, energetic, skilful and impartial efforts. The exceptional leadership that you have displayed does great honour to your country as it indeed does credit to this Council." The Ambassador of Sweden extended congratulations not only on Guyana's accession to the Presidency but "on the masterful and extremely constructive way in which you have guided us through a very difficult period these last few days. We want to express our deepest gratitude."
Finally, the Ambassador of Venezuela, Mr Simeon Consalvi, who later became Foreign Minister, had the following to say when Venezuela took its place on the Security Council in 1977: "I cannot fail to mention the brilliant performance of my Latin American colleague, Ambassador Jackson of Guyana in this Council as a representative of Latin America during the previous period."
Comments were also made about Foreign Ministers Ramphal and Wills who functioned as President of the Council for part of the time in May 1975 and June 1976 respectively.
The Council for Namibia
After years of fruitless efforts to get South Africa to cooperate with the UN in the discharge of its mandate for Namibia, the General Assembly adopted in 1966, a resolution, which terminated South Africa's mandate and assigned to itself responsibility for administering the territory. As a follow-up to the revocation of the mandate, the United National Council for Namibia was established in 1967 with the purpose of administering Namibia until independence. Guyana was a member of that Council from its inception.
The Council had the following three broad objectives:
i) to influence the UN policy in relation to Namibia;
ii) to assist the Namibian people in their liberation struggle by the employ of diplomatic and political measures; and
iii) to help the Namibian people, principally through training, to prepare for administering an independent Namibia.
The work of the Council was severely hampered by the unwillingness of the Security Council, through the exercise of the veto by France, the UK and the USA, to apply wide-ranging sanctions against South Africa. In fact, the major Western countries adopted a pessimistic posture when the Council for Namibia achieved successes in pursuit of its objectives. Among other things, it established a Fund for Namibia and developed a programme of action for promoting the independence of Namibia.
The Council elected its President annually. In 1974, I was so elected; in that year as well, a full-time officer was appointed for the first time as Commissioner for Namibia. The person appointed was the internationally renowned human-rights activist, Mr Sean McBride of Ireland, who was the Secretary- General of the International Commission of Jurists which was invited by Prime Minister Burnham to examine the contention of Dr Cheddi Jagan, then Leader of the Opposition, concerning racial imbalance in the security forces.
Mr McBride brought a considerable amount of creative energy and dedication to his duties. He came with a vast experience but also with an attitude, which presented difficulties for the Council in two respects. Firstly, he was reluctant to respect the authority of the Council over his actions.
Secondly, he was clearly not comfortable with having to work with junior officers who represented their states on the Council.
Shortly after his assumption of office, the Commissioner put a number of proposals to the Council. Important among them were the establishment of a Research Institute for Namibia, enlisting the support of non-governmental organisations, and the adoption of legislation to protect the natural resources of Namibia.
I had recognised through Guyana's membership of the UN Council for Namibia that it was necessary for the President to be appreciative of the political sensibilities of the members of the Council, recognising that the political objectives of some members of the Council were not always in consonance with those determined by the Council. The President also needed to be close to the pulse of leading African opinion and to seek to influence it.
Concerning African opinion, it was essential for the President to work closely with the OAU Secretariat and SWAPO, the liberation movement of Namibia, as well as the African Group at the UN.
One of the mechanisms used by the Council, pursuant to the foregoing objectives, was visits to countries to hold discussions with ministers and other government functionaries, to interact with the media and generally to attract support for the work of the Council. I was a member of missions of the Council to Africa and Europe in the early 1970s.
Criticism of the Council travelling as a whole had emerged with some critics referring to such visits as junkets. I became convinced that greater use should be made of smaller groups of members travelling to state capitals, which was the practice for representation of the Council at conferences. Additionally, I believed that missions of the Council should have clearly defined objectives and that they should operate as delegations from the administering authority of Namibia. The idea was that the visits should have the purpose of developing bilateral relations between Namibia, with the Council as the government, and the country being visited. In this regard, particular emphasis was placed on certain western countries, which had been pessimistic about the work of the Council and had not always been supportive of resolutions on Namibia.
The United Kingdom and Germany had special historic relationships with Namibia and I led missions of the Council to these two countries. With regard to the United Kingdom, a new Labour Government had been elected to office. In its election manifesto, the party had made favourable references about Southern Africa in general and Namibia in particular. It therefore seemed meet for an effort to be made to persuade the United Kingdom to alter its positions. During the meeting which I had with Minister of State at the Foreign Office, Mr David Ennals, I expressed the hope that his Government would change its position on the 1971 International Court of Justice (ICJ) Advisory Opinion which stated inter alia "that, the continued presence of South Africa in Namibia, being illegal, South Africa is under obligation to withdraw its administration from Namibia immediately and thus put an end to its occupation of the Territory." I asked that the United Kingdom consider making a contribution to the Fund for Namibia and urged that more helpful postures on Namibia be adopted when the matter came up for discussion in the General Assembly and Security Council. Subsequently, the United Kingdom, made a contribution to the Fund for Namibia and agreed to support the Institute for Namibia, (the establishment of which was then under consideration by the Council for Namibia) to do research and train Namibians to participate in the administration of an independent Namibia. Although the United Kingdom maintained its reservation on the ICJ's Advisory Opinion, it asserted that South Africa's continued presence in Namibia was "unlawful."
West Germany was of special interest because of its past colonial relationship with Namibia. After the visit, West Germany made a categorical statement accepting the 1971 ICJ Advisory Opinion and declared that South Africa was in illegal occupation of Namibia. The mission also obtained a commitment of support for the Fund for Namibia and the Institute.
With respect to the USA, the Council took a decision that I should lead a small mission to Washington. For various reasons a visit did not materialise. A demarche was however made through the US Mission to the UN. France was approached similarly.
In Latin America, visits were made to Mexico, Guyana and Colombia.
Naturally, the visit to Guyana was very special. Firstly, Namibia Day - August 26 - was commemorated by Guyana during the visit. On that day, a monument dedicated to the struggle for freedom everywhere, was unveiled at the Umana Yana and a public symposium held. Secondly, the Government of Guyana announced that it would contribute to the Fund for Namibia, assist in the establishment of the Institute for Namibia, provide scholarships for Namibians and issue a special postage stamp to commemorate Namibia Day in 1975. It was also suggested during the visit that a subvention should be sought from the UN regular budget to meet the expenses of the SWAPO office in New York. This was accomplished. It raised the profile of SWAPO at the UN and enabled it to prosecute its cause diplomatically with greater effectiveness.
During the Presidency, progress was made in developing relations with UN specialised agencies. The Council was granted associate membership of WHO and UNESCO. Participation in the work of those agencies was seen as strengthening the position of the Council as the legal authority for administering Namibia and furthering the isolation of South Africa.
On economic and legal affairs, the Council did not accomplish as much as it planned. However, there was one notable success. The Council promulgated a Decree for the Protection of the Natural Resources of Namibia. In this manner, the Council demonstrated that it was exercising the legislative authority vested in it by the General Assembly.
On the recommendation of the Council, the General Assembly decided to establish The Institute for Namibia. It was located in Lusaka, Zambia.
With respect to the Fund for Namibia, contribution were made by the USA, France, the UK and Brazil for the first time.
The African Group at the UN, took a decision in November 1974 to take the question of Namibia to the Security Council. After discussions with the Chairman of the African Group and SWAPO, it was agreed to seek a debate on Namibia in December when the Presidency of the Security Council would have shifted from the United States of America to Australia, a more decolonisation-friendly country. A resolution was adopted unanimously. The result received favourable editorial comment in the New York Times. Importantly the resolution announced the intention of the Security Council to review the question of Namibia on or before May 30, 1975. May was selected since that was the month when Guyana was expected to assume the Presidency of the Security Council.
Namibia took up much of the time of myself and the staff at the mission; but it was time and energy well spent. After 1974, Guyana continued to serve as a member of the Council. The President of SWAPO, now President of Namibia, gave recognition to Guyana's role on several occasions. In May 1975 for example, he spoke of "the most forceful and able manner" in which Guyana represented the Namibian cause.
I had the opportunity to visit Namibia in July this year. For me it was a dream come true. Here I was in a country in respect of whose people I had made so many speeches and representations in so many organisations - the UN, the OAU, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Commonwealth, and in so many countries - the UK, Ireland, Germany, Yugoslavia, Romania, Mexico, Colombia, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Zambia. While in Namibia, I met some of the SWAPO comrades who I had known as participants in the liberation struggle - diplomatically as well as militarily. They and others, who I had also known but did not meet, are contributing to the building of a prosperous independent Namibia. From conversation I had, including with diplomats, the governance policies and practices of the Namibian Government are sound and the economy generally well managed. However, as in other countries in Africa where there is a significant settler population, land seems destined to become politically explosive. Those Western countries from which the settlers or their forebears came, would do well to work with the Namibian Government to forestall an explosion.
The experience of being President of the Council for Namibia and the Security Council served me in good stead generally when I was Minister of Foreign Affairs. It was particularly useful when Guyana was elected to the Security Council for the second time and served in 1982 and 1983 as well as when we were involved in the Namibia issue at the UN and in the Commonwealth where I was a member of a Ministerial Committee on Southern Africa.
In 1990 I was informally approached by two Caribbean Foreign Ministers seeking my concurrence for the promotion of my candidacy as President of the General Assembly of the United Nations for 1993. The background to the approach was that a Caribbean candidate was never elected as President of the General Assembly. There were Caribbean candidates on two occasions in 1983 when Davidson Hepburn of the Bahamas was defeated by Foreign Minister Jorge Illueca of Panama, and in 1988 when Dame Nita Barrow of Barbados lost to Argentine Foreign Minister Dante Capute. The Ministers said to me that Ambassador Flemming of St Lucia was promoting his candidature. However from consultations held by them, they believed that for the Caribbean to succeed, it would be better for someone like me to be the candidate. I indicated that I was not interested. However, I was persuaded by my colleagues to consult my government. When I raised the matter with President Hoyte, his response was that if Flemming of St Lucia was a candidate, then my name should not go forward. Guyana should support Flemming, he said. I communicated this decision to my colleagues. When I resigned as Minister in November 1990, I therefore regarded the matter as closed. However, Dr Cedric Grant, who was appointed Special Advisor on Foreign Affairs to the President, was approached by Caribbean Foreign Ministers who revived the idea that I should be the Caribbean candidate for President of the General Assembly. When Dr Grant consulted me, I related to him what had transpired. I reiterated that I was not seeking to be a candidate. However, I said that if Caricom wanted me to go forward as the Caricom candidate, I would be willing to do so, once President Hoyte supported it. Dr Grant secured President Hoyte's concurrence and informal consultations began to take place about me being put forward as the Caricom candidate. Meanwhile, Ambassador Flemming of St Lucia contacted me and said that he would be willing to withdraw his candidature if Caricom wanted me to be its candidate. President Hoyte spoke with Prime Minister Compton of St Lucia and secured his support for the Caricom initiative. The matter was taken up at the Caricom Heads of Government Conference in Jamaica in 1992. The Conference agreed to support me "as the Caricom Candidate for election to the office of President" of the General Assembly. During the meeting, Prime Minister Michael Manley said to me, jocularly, that if I were elected, I would be the first President elected who was not a candidate.
Guyana and other Caricom countries thereafter vigorously promoted my candidature. When St Vincent assumed the Chairmanship of the Latin American and Caribbean Group at the United Nations, Ambassador Layne sought and obtained the Group's endorsement of my candidature. Demarches were made in state capitals, and in Georgetown through resident Ambassadors and at the United Nations promoting the candidature. Meanwhile, President Hoyte had announced the Caricom endorsement at a press conference. However, he said that it was a Guyana candidature. After national elections were held in December 1992, and the PPP/Civic came into office, President Jagan announced that his government was not in support of my candidature. As a result, I requested, through the Caricom Secretary General, that the Heads of Government withdraw my name as Caricom's candidate for the Presidency. I was informed subsequently that the Caricom Heads of Government endeavoured to persuade Dr Jagan to reconsider his objection. Dr Jagan, however, declined to accede to the Caricom request. For me, this was the Presidency that never was.