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Nov 17, 2022

Belize Takes Honduras to World Court Over Sapodilla Cayes

It caused quite a stir in the upper house a few weeks ago, when the Leader of Government Business introduced a motion to include Honduras’ claim over the Sapodilla Cayes as part of Belize’s case that has been lodged at the International Court of Justice. The proposal put forward by Senator Eamon Courtenay was met with cold water by the opposition, but sparked a debate among parliamentary colleagues regarding the timeliness of the motion for Belize to accede to the Treaty of Bogota. The agreement between Pacific states includes Honduras as a signatory and the pact requires that countries resolve disputes through peaceful means. Despite strong objections from the United Democratic Party, the Briceño administration has proceeded to submit its application with the Registrar of the I.C.J.  Belize is seeking a final and binding resolution, in accordance with international law, of the dispute with the Republic of Honduras with respect to sovereignty over the Sapodilla Cayes, including Seal Caye.  For context, we will revisit the introduction of the motion during the last special sitting of the senate on October twenty-fourth.


File: October 24th, 2022

Eamon Courtenay

Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“Since 1982, Honduras has included a claim to the Sapodilla Cayes in its constitution. We do not believe that the Honduran claim is credible. Because both Belize and Guatemala claim the Sapodillas in the I.C.J case, which said cayes are claimed by Honduras in its constitution, it is our understanding that Honduras will feel obliged to intervene in the Belize-Guatemala case now before the I.C.J to assert its claim to the Sapodillas. Madam President, Belize and Honduras have excellent relations. After taking legal advice, we have engaged the Honduran Government with a view to negotiating a resolution of their claim to the Sapodillas on the basis of Honduras acknowledging Belize’s exclusive sovereignty over the Sapodillas. Regrettably, this has not been successful. If, as we believe is likely, Honduras applies to intervene in the case now before the court, it is likely to affect the Belize-Guatemala case. Once the I.C.J becomes aware of a claim by Honduras to the Sapodillas, there is a significant risk that the court would not delimit the Maritime Areas that appertain to the Sapodillas, thereby leaving unresolved a large part of our maritime entitlement. Indeed the I.C.J may decide not to pronounce on sovereignty over the Sapodillas as well, even as Belize and Guatemala. This would mean that sovereignty over a very important part of our sovereign domain, the Sapodillas and the Maritime Areas pertaining to it would remain unresolved. In light of all the circumstances, and based on legal advice from our international lawyers, Madam President, Belize seeks to accede to the Pact of Bogota, a Treaty to which Honduras is a party.”


The Government of Belize emphasizes that this measure has been taken in an effort to protect the vital interests of the country, ensuring the full and final settlement of all outstanding territorial disputes to Belizean territory.

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