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Aug 30, 2018

British High Commissioner Says Nothing to Fear with ‘Yes’ Vote to I.C.J.

Taking the territorial dispute to the International Court of Justice will be decided on April tenth, 2019 when Belizeans vote in a referendum.  In one of his final interviews as British High Commissioner in Belize, Peter Hughes says that he is not sure that Belizeans are informed enough for the upcoming referendum. He says that Belizeans have nothing to fear with going to the I.C.J.


Peter Hughes

Peter Hughes, British High Commissioner

“I think actually that the people in Belize are not yet aware of how important that decision is in April of next year, the referendum itself. Before independence, we, the UK, tried everything we could think of to negotiate a settlement of the dispute, unsuccessfully. And we concluded at that time that the only way that this dispute was going to be resolved was by taking it to the international court of justice. So the big breakthrough was in 2008 when your government signed the special agreement with Guatemala to take the dispute to the International Court of Justice and it has taken ten years to get it to where it is now. And it is important to remember that; it wasn’t a matter of Belize not wanting the go; the reluctance was on the other side of the border. Now we are in a position where the Guatemalans are ahead of Belize, quite unusually. And it is important that Belizeans now look at the issues, understand what it is about. The I.C.J. is there to state categorically that that border is still there. But to my knowledge, there has not been a case at all in I.C.J. history where they’ve taken land away from one country and given it to another. So I don’t think Belizeans should worry about waking up the day after the referendum and finding out that they’re Guatemalan; that’s not going to happen. So I’m very happy that we got to where we are now; I think Belizeans should be happy too because this dispute has been a dark cloud over this country for far too long and it needs to be removed.”

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