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Apr 15, 2019

What’s Up With I.C.J. Litigation Risk?

Eamon Courtenay

Government, in its media blitz, continues to put forward that Belize has an ironclad case should the territorial claim with Guatemala be taken to the I.C.J. for resolution.  But the question on the minds of many is the likelihood, however remote, that Belize can in fact lose at the International Court of Justice.  It’s a possibility that Sir Elihue Lauterpacht has pointed to in his legal opinion, one that was later supported by former Solicitor Gian Gandhi and Senior Counsel Denys Barrow.


Eamon Courtenay, Lead P.U.P. Senator

“They are now quoting, Mr. Barrow is quoting from the answer from Sir Eli, he says, “As to the concerns shown by some Belizeans regarding the possibility of being asked to give up land, I do not believe that this is realistic.  I stand by the legal opinion on the issue that I gave in 2002 and do not believe that Guatemala can possibly establish a valid claim to any part of the territory of Belize.  Of course, the court is not always predictable and I could be wrong, but I cannot see how we can proceed by any other basis than the 2002 opinion is correct.”  Sir Eli continued, “As to the concerns expressed in Belize about the risk of losing in the court, it is impossible in referring to a dispute to the court to convey to the population of Belize an absolute promise that Belize will win. Now Mr. Barrow, after seeing Sir Eli’s response to Senator Hulse’s concern, Mr. Gandhi wrote in March 2009 that he thought that view was overconfident of Belize’s case and pointed to Sir Eli’s admission that there is always a risk of losing in court proceedings, remote as it may be in .the present case.”

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