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Jan 10, 2019

Would Maritime Areas Act Impact Belize’s I.C.J. Case?

Lisa Shoman

The integrity of Belize’s territorial sea, internal waters and its exclusive economic zone is also a matter of serious concern for the conservation community.  In the context of the pending referendum, questions are being asked about the potential impact of the existing Maritime Areas Act on the country’s legal position, should there be a ‘yes’ vote.  Former Foreign Minister Lisa Shoman took the question, giving assurance that the piece of legislation which came into force in 1992 will not have a bearing on the case before the I.C.J.

 

Lisa Shoman, Former Foreign Minister

“As framed, the Maritime Areas Act will not affect our case at all.  I assume you’re referring to the section in the Maritime Areas Act that for the purposes of negotiation we had voluntarily not gone further.  Those words are important, “for the purposes of negotiation.”  I will tell you that Belize, Guatemala and our neighbor Honduras which is likely to be impacted in any decision having to do with maritime areas, because of the unique geography, are all signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, UNCLOS, which is in force and which all of us are bound to respect and live by.  That is not to say that the Maritime Areas Act can’t, for instance, be amended.  That can be done.  That is an act of parliament and will require parliamentary will, but as it stands, no.  In my opinion, and this is only my opinion, it will not impact any decision that any court is likely to make because of the specificity of the language in there.”

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