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Jun 7, 2019

Belize Submits Notification to I.C.J.

It has been a month since the historic May eighth I.C.J. referendum and steps have been taken following the ‘yes’ vote to formalize Belize’s position in taking the territorial dispute with Guatemala to the International Court of Justice for resolution.  In the days after the national exercise, the House of Representatives met to table a motion amending the Maritime Areas Act.  After being read thrice, the vote to reclaim Belize’s full twelve miles of territorial sea under was unanimous.  It was then taken to upper parliament where it was also voted on with one accord.  On May twenty-third, Governor General Sir Colville Young assented, effectively paving the way for what took place today.  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced earlier that the notification of the Special Agreement between Belize and Guatemala to submit Guatemala’s territorial, insular and maritime claim to the International Court of Justice of 2008, along with its protocol of 2015, was deposited to the Registrar of the Court in The Hague, Netherlands today.  On May twentieth, following the Special Sitting of the House of Representatives, we asked Prime Minister Barrow to outline what happens next.  Here’s his response.


Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow [File: May 20th, 2019]

“There’s likely to be a great deal of down time.  Once the Guatemalans, well we don’t know how long they will take to memorialize their brief.  We then have to get that, study that and then our people have to work on the response to that.  If the Guatemalans take the full year and we take the full year, which we hope we won’t, you can see that there will be long periods when there is nothing happening except lawyers busily, as was said to somebody, scribble, scribble, scribble.  So we are, in fact, I think preparing, maybe even over preparing, but I do need to sound the warning to the media and to the public that there may be long periods when there is nothing to report, except that matters are in train.”


Belize’s notification today activates the activates the procedure under the Special Agreement which provides that Guatemala shall present its memorial within one year of the date on which the Special Agreement was notified to the court.  It is expected that Guatemala will now submit its claim no later than June seventh, 2020.  The letter of notification by Belize to the ICJ was signed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington and delivered in person by Dylan Vernon, Ambassador of Belize to Belgium.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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