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1859 TREATY and the Referendum


If we go to the International Court of Justice, one particular document will be focused on legal arguments, and that is the 1859 Treaty. April 30 was the 160th year anniversary of the signing between Great Britain and Guatemala.  Assad Shoman, a Member of the Citizens for the Defence of Sovereignty, the lead organization that supports a ‘yes’ vote in the referendum, explained that Belize is not responsible to fulfill the promises made by Britain and  

Assad Shoman – Member of Citizens for the Defence of Sovereignty: “Under the law we did not inherit the 1859 Treaty. We as a country inherited the border that had been set that had been established by the 1859 Treaty so if there were any obligations under the 1859 Treaty that could be attributed to Britain we don’t inherit that, that is the law. Again Guatemala probably thinks it is unfair, I am not complaining about it, that is the law and suits us now but whether it did or not that is still the law. We do not inherit the treaty, we cannot be made responsible for a wrongful act of another state because if Guatemala is right which quite honestly they will have a hard time proving to any court but if it is right that Britain failed in some way to honor the Article 7 then that is a wrongful act. We can’t be held responsible, that is the law. Imagine $50,000 pounds and they didn’t have to pay it all at once you know. Under the 1863 Treaty, they had to pay like $10,000 a year, imagine for five years and if Guatemala is doing its part, the building of the road, etc. then the next year they pay the other $10,000 and so on and throughout the years there have been many opportunities for Britain to pay to satisfy any feeling of Guatemala towards themself so they failed to do that but it is their responsibility if any, not ours. We have no responsibility for anything that may be ascribed to Britain with regard to Article 7. The 1859 Treaty is valid because Guatemala nor Britain don’t have the right to unilaterally declare that the Treaty isn’t valid and therefore when we go to court, if we go to court that under article 38,1 of the statute of the ICJ which is what the ICJ has to apply according to the Special Agreement. They will look first and foremost at treaties and when they look at that the only treaties they can see relating to the territory is the 1859 Treaty and the 1931 exchange both of which clearly, there is no room for questioning the exactness of the border lines. They are clearly set out in the Treaty and they have been respected basically for all these years and the court will have no trouble whatsoever in affirming the validity of the 1859 Treaty and the validity  of all of those borders and so we have nothing to fear by going to the ICJ on this issue.”

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