Foreign relations of Guyana

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After independence in 1966, Guyana sought an influential role in international affairs, particularly among Third World and non-aligned nations. It served twice on the UN Security Council (1975–76 and 1982–83). Former Vice President, Deputy Prime Minister, and Attorney General Mohamed Shahabuddeen served a 9-year term on the International Court of Justice (1987–96).

Guyana has diplomatic relations with a wide range of nations, and these managed primarily through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The European Union (EU), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Organization of American States (OAS) have offices in Georgetown.

Guyana strongly supports the concept of regional integration. It played an important role in the founding of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), but its status as the organization's poorest member limits its ability to exert leadership in regional activities. Guyana has sought to keep foreign policy in close alignment with the consensus of CARICOM members, especially in voting in the UN, OAS, and other international organizations. In 1993, Guyana ratified the 1988 Vienna Convention on illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and cooperates with U.S. law enforcement agencies on counter-narcotics efforts.

Two neighbours have longstanding territorial disputes with Guyana. Since the 19th century, Venezuela has claimed all of Guyana west of the Essequibo River — 62% of Guyana's territory. At a meeting in Geneva in 1966, the two countries agreed to receive recommendations from a representative of the UN Secretary General on ways to settle the dispute peacefully. Diplomatic contacts between the two countries and the Secretary General's representative continue. Neighbouring Suriname also claims the territory east of Guyana's New River, a largely uninhabited area of some 15,000 square kilometres (5,800 sq mi) in southeast Guyana. Guyana and Suriname also disputed their offshore maritime boundaries. This dispute flared up in June 2000 in response to an effort by a Canadian company to drill for oil under a Guyanese concession. Guyana regards its legal title to all of its territory as sound. However, the dispute with Suriname was arbitrated by the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea and a ruling in favor of Guyana was announced in September, 2007.[1][2][3]

Guyana is also a member of the International Criminal Court with a Bilateral Immunity Agreement of protection for the US-military (as covered under Article 98).

Disputes - international[edit]

All of the area west of the Essequibo River claimed by Venezuela; Suriname claims area east of the New Upper Courantyne.

Illicit drugs[edit]

Transshipment point for narcotics from South America - primarily Venezuela - to Europe and the United States; producer of cannabis.

Relations by country[edit]

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Barbados See Barbados–Guyana relations

The relations between Guyana and Barbados had its genesis to a time when both Guyana (then British Guiana) and Barbados were both British colonies. Shortly after Great Britain secured British Guiana from the Dutch, waves of migrants were encouraged to move and settle in Guyana. Barbados was one such location where large numbers of migrants came from. Through time Barbados and Guyana have both supported each other. With the move towards independence in the region Guyana was seen as the breadbasket of the wider Caribbean which led to yet more waves of Barbadians seeking to move to Guyana for better opportunities.

Relations have been rocky, during the 1990s, immigration became contentious for Guyanese persons to Barbados. Such terms as the "Guyanese bench" in the immigration area of the Barbados Sir Grantley Adams International Airport have tested both states at times. The two nations continue their cooperation through the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and work towards building and maintaining good relations between their nationals. Both nations also attempt to maintain open communications at high levels of both Governments.

More recently the Guyanese Government has extended an offer to Barbadians.[4][5] The Guyanese government has offered to put in place an economically favourable regime towards any Barbadians that wish to relocate to Guyana and contribute towards that nation's goals in agricultural investment.[6] The announcement was made in the final days of the Owen Arthur administration by MP member Mia Motley.

In the early 1990s the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Patrick Manning pitched an initiative for Barbados, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago to enter into some form of political union or political association. This initiative was short lived and didn't proceed following the Democratic Labour Party's defeat during the 1994 elections.

 Brazil See Brazil–Guyana relations

Brazil–Guyana relations have traditionally been close. Brazil has provided military assistance to Guyana in the form of war fare training and logistics. Bilateral relations between the countries have recently increased, as a result of Brazil's new South-South foreign policy aimed to strengthen South American integration.

During a state visit by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to Georgetown on 2 March 2007, the governments of Guyana and Brazil signed several cooperation agreements and announced plans to boost trade between the two countries.


Canada started relations with Guyana in 1964 with the construction of the Commission of Canada in Georgetown. In 1966 it became a Canadian High Commission. There is a Guyanese High Commission in Ottawa and a Guyanese Consulate in Toronto.

Canada and Guyana have strong ties through the Commonwealth of Nations. There is an estimated 200,000 Guyanese living in Canada. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Guyanese police work closely to help with drug, and human smuggling.

 India See Guyana–India relations

Relations between India and Guyana ever since the independence of Guyana in May 1966 have been cordial.[7] The cordiality in the relation remains unaffected with changes in governments either in India or in Guyana. Late Shrimati Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, visited Guyana in 1968, late Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, the then Vice President of India visited Guyana in 1988 and Shri Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, the then Vice President of India came on a state visit to Guyana in 2006.[7]

The cooperation between the two countries in sharing developmental experience is mainly routed through Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation (ITEC) under which forty scholarships are granted every year in various courses. Besides, some experts are also deputed to Guyana from time to time on request in specified areas of activity. Several other scholarships are also available to Guyanese to pursue long-term courses, to get acquainted with India and to learn Hindi language in India.

India has offered credit facilities to Guyana for use in mutually accepted designated fields, agriculture and information technology, being two of these. Indian companies have also expressed interest in bio fuel, energy, minerals and pharmaceuticals. Total trade turn over remains low, though the trend is positive.

Indian Cultural Centre in Georgetown was established in 1972 with the objective of strengthening cultural relations and mutual understanding between India and Guyana and their peoples. The Centre runs regular classes in Yoga and Dance (Kathak). The Centre has a well equipped Auditorium where cultural events are organised on a regular basis. The teachers and students of ICC participate in events by the local community on various occasions round the year. The Centre has a library with books/publications on history, literature, art, culture, mythology and works of eminent scholars and authors.

An important cultural connection between India and Guyana is cricket. With the advent of the Indian Premier League, many Guyanese players were contracted to play in India.[7]

 Mexico 1 March 1973 See Guyana–Mexico relations
 North Korea See Foreign relations of North Korea

Guyana and Pakistan established diplomatic relations on 10 November 1967. Islamabad pursues expansion of trade relations between the two countries and expressed interest in establishing a Guyana trade mission in Pakistan. Both the countries have over the years expressed desire to pursue opportunities for enhanced cooperation in human resource development, science and technology, information technology, trade and investment. Strengthening of the Guyana/Pakistan relationship can be extended further in many areas including culture and trade as the two prospects. There are common interests which the two countries share as members of the Commonwealth and the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) among others. Guyana and Pakistan share a lot of commonalities, including the passion and love for cricket.


Guyana recognised the independence of the State of Palestine on 13 January 2011.[10] On that very same day, Guyana and Palestine both established formal diplomatic relations.[11]

 South Korea 13 June 1968[12] See Guyana–South Korea relations

The establishment of diplomatic relations between South Korea and Guyana started on 13 June 1968.[12]

 United Kingdom
  • Guyana has a high commission in London.[13]
  • United Kingdom has a high commission in Georgetown.[14]
 United States See Guyana–United States relations

U.S. policy toward The Co-operative Republic of Guyana seeks to develop robust, sustainable democratic institutions, laws, and political practices; support economic growth and development; and promote stability and security. During the last years of his administration, President Hoyte sought to improve relations with the United States as part of a decision to move his country toward genuine political nonalignment. Relations also were improved by Hoyte's efforts to respect human rights, invite international observers for the 1992 elections, and reform electoral laws. The United States also welcomed the Hoyte government's economic reform and efforts, which stimulated investment and growth. The 1992 democratic elections and Guyana's reaffirmation of sound economic policies and respect for human rights have placed U.S.-Guyanese relations on an excellent footing. Under successive PPP governments, the United States and Guyana continued to improve relations. President Cheddi Jagan was committed to democracy, adopted more free market policies, and pursued sustainable development for Guyana's environment.

 Venezuela See Guyana–Venezuela relations

Venezuela claimed more than half of the territory of the British colony of Guyana at the time of the Latin American wars of independence, a dispute that was settled by arbitration in 1899. In 1962 Venezuela declared that it would no longer abide by the arbitration decision, which ceded mineral-rich territory in the Orinoco basin to Guyana. The area is called Guayana Esequiba by Venezuela. A border commission was set up in 1966 with representatives from Guyana, Venezuela and Great Britain, but failed to reach agreement. Venezuela vetoed Guyana's bid to become a member of the Organization of American States (OAS) in 1967. In 1969 Venezuela backed an abortive uprising in the disputed area.

Under intense diplomatic pressure, Venezuela agreed in 1970 to a 12-year moratorium on the dispute with the Protocol of Port-of-Spain. In 1981, Venezuela refused to renew the protocol. However, with changes to the governments of both countries relations improved, to the extent that in 1990 Venezuela sponsored Guyana's bid for OAS membership in 1990.[16][17]

See also[edit]

References and notes[edit]