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BEFORE stating the Argument on behalf of Great Britain, it is desirable to refer to the provisions of the Treaty which relate specially to the question which the Tribunal has to determine, i.e., the boundary-line between the Colony of British Guiana and the United States of Venezuela.

The Tribunal is directed in the first instance 10 to investigate and ascertain the extent of the territories belonging to or that might lawfully be claimed by the United Netherlands or the Kingdom of Spain respectively at the time of the acquisition by Great Britain 15 of the Colony of British Guiana. Great Britain claims through the United Netherlands; the United States of Venezuela claim through Spain. The extent to which at the date of the acquisition of the Colony of British Guiana by 20 Great Britain territory in Guiana had been actually acquired by the United Netherlands or Spain respectively is the first step in examining the respective rights of Great Britain and Venezuela.

The Treaty does not, however, contemplate that any act of Great Britain subsequent to the acquisition of the Colony by her as the successor

of the United Netherlands, or any act of the United States of Venezuela as the successor of Spain, should be disregarded.

It is obvious that the investigation of the 5 extent of territory which might at the date of

the acquisition of the Colony of British Guiana by Great Britain be lawfully claimed by the United Netherlands or the Kingdom of Spain is

not in itself sufficient to enable the Tribunal to 10 determine the boundary-line.

The action of Great Britain and Venezuela during the present century not only reflects great light upon the question as to the boundary

between the Dutch and Spanish territory, but 15 also is of great importance in ascertaining the

rights of the two nations under the Rules contained in Article IV of the Treaty. It is clear that possession during this century may

confer a title under the Rules laid down in 20 Article IV.

may for this

The Rules which are formulated in Article IV for the guidance of the Tribunal are as follows:

Rule (a) “adverse holding or prescription during a period of 50 years shall make a good 25 title. The Arbitrators may deem exclusive

political control of a district, as well as actual settlement thereof, sufficient to constitute adverse holding, or to make title by prescription.”

This rule prescribes that when once the period 30 of fifty years is established all further discussion

ends, whatever may have been the origin of the possession, and that exclusive political control


constitute possession. A further direction contained in Rule (6), 35 Article IV, is as follows:

“ The Arbitrators may recognize and give effect to rights and claims resting on any other ground whatever, valid according to international

law, and on any principles of international law 40 which the Arbitrators may deem to be applicable

to the case, and which are not in contravention of the foregoing Rule.”

This direction was given in order to prevent any attempt to exclude the general principles 13 of international law applicable to the case.

One of these principles is, that possession by one nation, however recent, confers a good title unless a superior title is shown by some other

nation; and the application of this principle is 50 not excluded by the previous rule that fifty years

adverse holding or prescription confers an absolute title.

Lastly, it is provided by Rule (c) that “in determining the boundary-line, if territory of one party be found by the Tribunal to have 5 been at the date of this Treaty in the occupation of the subjects or citizens of the other party, such effect shall be given to such occupation as reason, justice, the principles of international law, and the equities of the case shall, in the 10 opinion of the Tribunal, require."

This Rule is not intended to override the previous Rules, but it contemplates the case of the subjects or citizens of one nation being at the date of the Treaty in the occupation of 15 territory which would belong to the other if the boundary-line otherwise ascertained alone to be considered by the Arbitrators.

It enables the Tribunal to deal with every question likely to arise, and, in determining the 20 boundary, to take into account as a matter of equity the fact that territory which would otherwise be awarded to one of the Powers is occupied by subjects or citizens of the other, and to arrange for suitable compensation or adjustment. 25


The proposals which have from time to time been made in the diplomatic correspondence for an adjustment of the difference between Great Britain and Venezuela should not be taken into consideration by the Arbitrators in coming 30 to a decision upon the boundary-line. They do not constitute any admission of right on the one side or the other, but were put forward as suggested adjustments or compromises between the two Governments, in which claims of right were 35 not insisted upon. It would tend to prevent any nation making proposals, for the purpose of avoiding either war or the necessity of arbitration, if such proposals, in the event of arbitration, could be used against the Govern- 40 ment by which they had been made.

Argument for Venezuela.


p. 116.

At the root of the whole case, as presented on behalf of Venezuela, there lies the contention that Spain, by virtue of the Papal Bull of 1493, or by virtue of the first discovery of America 45 and the establishment of a settlement at Santo Thomé, became entitled to the whole territory lying between the Rivers Orinoco and Amazon and the Atlantic. [1878]


p. 99.



p. 13.

p. 26.

Repeatedly in the Venezuelan Case and

Venezuelan Case, Counter-Case the Dutch are spoken of as trespassers, smugglers, raiders, and robbers; acts of Counter-Case,

pp. 12, 20, 23, dominion by them appear to be regarded as un

32, 68. 5 lawful and unjustifiable, whilst acts of the same

character when done by the Spaniards are treated as proofs of ownership and the exercise of lawful authority.

In like manner it is alleged that the Dutch by Venezuelan Case, 10 settlement and occupation of certain points be. pp. 61–74.

tween those rivers became entitled only to the Counter-Case,
actual spots settled and occupied and to no more,
that the whole of this vast territory, other than

the spots actually settled by the Dutch and 15 other nations, remained Spanish, and that Vene

zuela as the successor of Spain is entitled to that territory. This argument was incidentally met

British Case, by anticipation in the British Case and

British CounterCounter-Case; but, inasmuch as in various Case, pp. 37–32. 20 passages in the Venezuelan Counter-Case it

again appears, the grounds upon which Her Majesty's Government contend that no such claim can possibly be supported may again be briefly stated.

Alleged Rights of Spain under l'apal Bull. 25

The validity of the Papal Bull as affecting British Case, other nations was repudiated from the earliest

British Counterdays; but apart from any question of its applica- Case, pp, 44, 45. tion as between Spain and Portugal, the history

of the action of Spain and the United Netherlands 30 in respect of the particular portion of America

now under consideration renders it absolutely
impossible that Venezuela can found any title
upon the Papal Bull.
The claim of the United Netherlands to trade British Counier-

Case, p. 45. 35 to, settle and occupy those parts of America

which were not in the actual possession of
Spain, was in terms recognized by the Truce
of 1609.
Again in the year 1648, as is pointed out in

British Counter

Case, pp. 37–52. 40 Chapter V of the British Counter-Case, Spain

by the Treaty of Münster definitely acknowledged the right of the United Netherlands to settle and occupy any territories not in the actual

occupation and possession of Spain. This Treaty 45 was confirmed by that of Utrecht in 1714.

It is not necessary to repeat the detailed argument contained in Chapter V of the British Counter-Case, but it is relied upon as a complete

answer to the contention that Spain or Venezuela 50 as her successor can put forward any valid claim

p. 157.

British Case App., VII, pp. 90, 91.

to the territory in dispute founded upon the Papal Bull. At no period in her negotiations with or communications to the Dutch did Spain put forward or rely upon the Papal Bull as an answer to the Dutch claim, nor did the Dutch 5 ever take any grant from Spain.

It is a salient fact that, at the time immediately following upon the Treaty of Münster, and during the whole of the remainder of the seventeenth century, Spain never attempted to 10 hinder the progress of the Dutch Colonies in Guiana. Further, no Spanish remonstrance was ever made against the extension by the Dutch of settlement and jurisdiction between the Essequibo and Orinoco.

15 It was left to the Venezuelan diplomatists of the middle of the nineteenth century to introduce the Papal Bull as a foundation of the Venezuelan title, and to ground thereon a claim, at no time of any weight, which had been obsolete 20 for more than 300 years, and which Spain never thought of putting forward. The fact is, that from the beginning of the seventeenth century

century Spain treated the United Netherlands as capable of acquiring possessions 25 in South America in the same way and to the same extent as Spain herself might have been able to acquire them.

The above facts are a conclusive answer to the suggestion that the operations of the Dutch 30 in South America are to be regarded as the acts of robbers, plunderers, and raiders, and make it impossible for any reliance to be placed by Venezuela upon the Papal Bull.

Rights of Spain as First Discoverer.

The other ground upon which, as far as can be 35 gathered from the Venezuelan Case and CounterCase, it is attempted to claim for Spain the whole territory from the Orinoco to the Amazon is that Spain, by virtue of her first discovery of America and settlement at Santo Thomé, became entitled 40 to Guiana as a whole. This claim cannot possibly be supported on any principle known to international law.

The rights which flow from first discovery are discussed in Chapter VII of the British 45 Case, and it is not desired here to repeat the principles of law to which reference is there made. The territory between the Orinoco and the (1878]


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