FAQ List

  • 1. What is the Special Agreement? +

    The Special Agreement was signed by the Foreign Ministers of Belize and Guatemala on the 8th December, 2008, following a long period of unsuccessful negotiations seeking a solution to Guatemala’s unfounded claim to Belizean territory.  This Agreement sets out the issue to be examined by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the question to be put to the people of both countries in national referenda, whether the issue should be judged by the ICJ.…
  • 2. What is the ICJ? +

    The ICJ is the judicial arm of the United Nations.  Its main function is to settle disputes between member countries.  The International Court of Justice is located at The Hague in the Netherlands and has 15 international judges elected for terms of office of nine years by the UN General Assembly and the Security Council.…
  • 3. What is the issue to be put before the Court? +

    According to Article 2 of the Special Agreement, “The Parties request the Court to determine in accordance with applicable rules of international law as specified in Article 38(1) of the Statute of the Court any and all legal claims of Guatemala against Belize to land and insular territories and to any maritime areas pertaining to these territories, to declare the rights therein of both Parties, and to determine the boundaries between their respective territories and area.”…
  • 4. What is the question to be voted on in the referendum? +

    According to Article 7 of the Special Agreement, the question to be decided on by the peoples of Belize and Guatemala in simultaneous referenda is: “Do you agree that any legal claim of Guatemala against Belize relating to land and insular territories and to any maritime areas pertaining to these territories should be submitted to the International Court of Justice for final settlement and that it determine finally the boundaries of the respective territories and areas of the Parties?”…
  • 5. Isn’t there a Treaty or Treaties that clearly defines our boundaries? +

    The 1859 Boundary Convention between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Guatemala defines our boundary as follows: “Beginning at the mouth of the River Sarstoon in the Bay of Honduras, and proceeding up the mid-channel thereof to Gracias a Dios Falls; then turning to the right and continuing by a line drawn direct from Gracias a Dios Falls to Garbutt’s Falls on the River Belize, and from Garbutt’s Falls due north until it strikes the Mexican frontier.” In 1931, in an Exchange of Notes, Britain and Guatemala accepted the report of a joint boundary demarcation survey that used the 1859 Boundary Convention as its source of reference. This was registered as a Treaty by the British under the Covenant of the League of Nations, the forerunner to the United Nations. …
  • 6. Why cannot we just stick to that Treaty and not go through any process at the ICJ? +

    Apart from an alleged breach of the treaty by the British, Guatemala also claims that the Treaty is not valid based on a ruling of its Constitutional Court in 1997 which asserts that it had not been properly ratified after the 1859 signature.  The ICJ would rule on the validity of the Treaty.…
  • 7. What is Guatemala’s claiming? +

    Guatemala’s claim to Belizean territory has changed many times over the years.  In 1994 the Government of Guatemala reiterated its claim to the entire territory of Belize.  The most recent claim, put forward in 1999, is to the area between the Sibun and Sarstoon Rivers, and all the cayes except St. George’s Caye.  Belize is not sure what claim Guatemala would bring to the ICJ.  The Special Agreement requires Guatemala to bring “any and all” legal claims so that there would be a final understanding of its claim, and an end to any further claim.…
  • 8. Is the United Nations aware of the Treaties that define our boundaries? +

    Yes the UN is aware of the history of the territorial dispute and of the boundary treaties.  The United Nations General Assembly of 1980 reaffirmed the inalienable right of the people of Belize to self-determination, independence, and territorial integrity.  It was not until 1991, ten years after Belize attained independence, that Guatemala officially recognized Belize as an independent nation and established diplomatic relations.  Even so the territorial claim was maintained.…
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