Belize Awaits ICJ Date for Territorial Dispute with Guatemala

Belize Awaits ICJ Date for Territorial Dispute with Guatemala

Belize is currently awaiting a date to be set by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for oral hearings on the case between Belize and Guatemala.  Minister of Foreign Affairs, Francis Fonseca, gave an update on where Belize currently stands in its territorial court matters with Guatemala, as well as with Honduras regarding the Sapodilla Cayes.

Francis Fonseca, Minister of Foreign Affairs: “The pursuit of a peaceful resolution to the territorial dispute with Guatemala and sovereignty over the Sapodilla Cayes with Honduras remains one of our main foreign policy objectives. The cases involving the illegal claim by Guatemala and sovereignty over the Sapodilla are before the International Court of Justice. All parties have complied with the requirement for written submissions to be delivered and we are now awaiting for the International Court of Justice to set a date for the presentation of oral hearings. We expect such a date, Madam Speaker, to be set perhaps late this year or early next year. That’s when the date will be set and then we can proceed with oral hearings. We have consistently said Belize has a very strong case and the ICJ’s judgment in our view will vindicate our long-held position that Belize is sovereign over the full 8,867 square miles of our territory, our islands, and our maritime spaces. In respect of on the ground challenges near the border, Madam Speaker, we are very grateful to the Organization of American States. The OAS office in the adjacency zone has been playing an important role in verification of incidents, coordinating and patrolling the border by our militaries of both countries and building a culture of peace. Belize continues its advocacy to ensure that the OAS office is adequately funded. 

As it relates to the matter with Honduras, it was on November 16, 2022 that Belize instituted proceedings against Honduras concerning its sovereignty over the Sapodilla Cayes.  Belize described the area as a group of cayes lying in the Gulf of Honduras at the southern tip of the Belize Barrier Reef. In its application, instituting proceedings, Belize states that, since the early nineteenth century, the Sapodilla Cayes have formed part of the territory of Belize, initially as part of the settlement of Belize and later the colony of British Honduras, and since 1981 as part of the independent State of Belize.

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