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Dec 9, 2008

O.A.S. Sec Gen is optimistic about settling Guatemalan claim

Story PictureAnd while there is still quite a way to go before the Guatemalan claim to Belize reaches the International Court of Justice… if it even does. In the meantime, O.A.S. Secretary General, Jose Miguel Insulza, who has been involved in the process for years, is keeping his fingers crossed that it will work out and the matter will be settled once and for all. But if it doesn’t get pass the referenda, Insulza says he is happy that the two countries have gotten this far.

Jose Miguel Insulza, O.A.S. Secretary General
“It’s the end of a process and the beginning of another one. I hope that this part of the process will pass the final obstacle, which is the approval by the referendum in both countries. I will be satisfied with this part of the process, but the referendum needs to take place in both countries and therefore we have definitely a compromise to go to the I.C.J. Then we begin a part that will be not so short. As you know, the court is not characterized by the short time or the brevity of deliberations but I do hope that within this decade we will have a final solution to this problem.”

“I am happy that we have moved forward, it is a historic occasion. The signature of this agreement is a show of the willingness of the governments to look forward to a much better relationship and to a solution to this very old controversy. So I am very happy today and I will be more happier when the people of both countries approve the referendum. This is a costly process, so we are going to help. We expect through our peace fund to try to get the resources from some countries to help the two countries in the expenses of the referendum, continue our work in the adjacency zone and keep our fingers crossed for the referendum.”

In November 2007, Insulza made his recommendations that since negotiations could not resolve the claim, both Belize and Guatemala should take the dispute to the I.C.J. The O.A.S.’ role has been one of mediator in the process. Under its auspices the negotiations have been taking place going back to 2000 when both parties agreed to establish a Facilitation Process that made proposals which were rejected by Guatemala in 2003. In the ensuing years there were informal negotiations and in 2005, the confidence building measures were agreed to. In October 2007, both Belize and Guatemala signaled to the O.A.S. that they were unable to reach agreement on any issue. It is thereafter that Insulza proposed the I.C.J. way.

In respect of the O.A.S. office at the Adjacency Zone, it is known that the O.A.S. is committed to confidence building measures along the border and that it has been agreed that the office will remain open.

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