The longstanding border controversy between the Co-operative Republic of Guyana and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela arose as a result of the Venezuelan contention that the Arbitral Award of 1899 about the frontier between British Guiana and Venezuela is null and void. Within the framework of the 1966 Geneva Agreement between the two countries, the Secretary-General conducted Good Offices from 1990 to 2017 to find a solution to their border controversy. During this time, four Personal Representatives of the Secretary-General, with the support of DPA, worked closely with the parties toward this end.
Former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon communicated to the parties on 15 December 2016 a framework for the resolution of the border controversy based on his conclusions on what would constitute the most appropriate next steps. Notably, he concluded that the Good Offices Process would continue for one final year, until the end of 2017, with a strengthened mandate of mediation, and that, if significant progress had not been made by that time towards arriving at a full agreement for the solution of the controversy, he would choose the International Court of Justice as the next means of settlement, unless the Governments of Guyana and Venezuela jointly requested that he refrain from doing so.
On 30 January 2018, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, following a careful analysis of developments in 2017, chose the International Court of Justice as the means to be used for the solution of the controversy. In reaching this decision, the Secretary-General also reached the conclusion that Guyana and Venezuela could benefit from his continued good offices through a complementary process established on the basis of his powers under the Charter, stressing that he remained committed to accompanying both States as they seek to overcome their differences regarding the border controversy. Following this decision, Guyana filed an application instituting proceedings against Venezuela with the International Court of Justice on 29 March 2018.