Belize 4 May 2012 – Jeremy Browne, Foreign Office Minister for Latin America, today commented on the agreement between Guatemala and Belize to hold simultaneous referenda on 6 October 2013 on referring their territorial dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) according to a press release issued by the Belize Government. According to the release Mr. Bowne said: “I welcome the agreement, announced last Friday by the Foreign Ministers of Belize and Guatemala, to hold referenda on 6 October 2013 on the question of referring the Guatemala-Belize territorial dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
“The UK supports the ICJ route as a means to finding a long-term and sustainable resolution which is acceptable to both states. The resolution of the territorial dispute continues to be a long-term priority for the UK. Our funding for the Organization of American States (OAS) office in the Adjacency Zone, and our contributions to the legal fees fund to assist both countries during the ICJ process, confirm our long-standing support. This agreement is an important step towards increasing stability, development and trade in the region.”
The territorial dispute between Belize and Guatemala dates back to 1859. The two countries have been unable to agree their mutual border and Guatemala has maintained a territorial claim on part of Belize. Since 2000, Belize and Guatemala have held a series of
meetings under the auspices of the Organization of American States (OAS) in an attempt to resolve the dispute through negotiation.
The referenda will take place simultaneously in both countries.
The question to be submitted to referenda will be: “Do you agree that any legal claim of Guatemala against Belize relating to land and insular territories and to any maritime areas pertaining to these territories should be submitted to the International Court of Justice for final settlement and that it determine finally the boundaries of the respective territories and areas of the Parties?”