Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type



International Relations

First Advisor

Jean Krasno

Second Advisor

Jacqueline Brave-boy Wagner


territorial dispute, international law, dispute settlement mechanism


The purpose of this thesis is to examine and evaluate the effectiveness of those dispute settlement mechanisms that are capable of resolving the Guyana-Venezuela border dispute. This thesis will analyze those legal principles and/or techniques of the International Court of Justice, mediation and the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which are indispensable for dispute resolution. I argue that a resolution is significant for the stability of the international community.

Guyana and Venezuela possess economic and political interests in the disputed Essequibo region. Venezuela’s predilection for bilateral negotiations contradicts Guyana’s request for a judicial solution. These extreme positions are not novel but were shaped by the history of the dispute. A historical analysis of the Guyana-Venezuela border dispute will highlight those reasons for their extreme positions and reinforce the degree of complexity which is often associated with dispute resolution. The border dispute was ‘settled’ by a tribunal in 1899 but it persists. Thus, the thesis will test whether the dispute is based on colonial inheritance or is solely based on the economic value associated with the Essequibo region.

This analysis will help to evaluate the applicability of the aforementioned dispute settlement mechanisms. Additionally, it will predict those legal principles and/or techniques which are pertinent and necessary for the resolution of the dispute. Ultimately, the thesis will conclude by critically evaluating and predicting the roles and effectiveness of the International Court of Justice, mediation and the Permanent Court of Arbitration towards resolving this dispute.

‘Resolution’ will not be limited to a decision being made. Instead, ‘resolution’ will include the level of compliance and current relationship status of states that had their dispute settled by the International Court of Justice, mediation or the Permanent Court of Arbitration. One of the three dispute settlement mechanisms will then be selected as the best option for resolving the Guyana-Venezuela border dispute. Selection will be based on the effectiveness and relativity of the dispute settlement mechanism, in accordance with, the dynamics of the dispute.


This thesis should encourage further research on border disputes and their resolutions. Its success, i.e. dispute resolution is important for the development of international law and the dynamic stability, dispute settlement mechanisms should posses.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.