Government Expects Resolution in Belize/Guatemala Differendum Within Two Years

Government Expects Resolution in Belize/Guatemala Differendum Within Two Years

The Government is anticipating that the Belize/Guatemala differendum should be resolved in about two years.  The legal team representing Belize met about a month ago where updates were given on the matter which is before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).  As we reported a few weeks ago, the next step in the court is for oral hearings as explained further by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Francis Fonseca.

Francis Fonseca, Minister of Foreign Affairs: “Where we are with the ICJ case is that in terms of Guatemala, because we actually have two cases before the ICJ now we have one with Guatemala and we have one with Honduras. In terms of Guatemala all of the written submissions have been presented to the court by both sides. So both Belize and Guatemala have made the written submissions to the court. Where we are now is that we’re awaiting a date to be set by the court for oral submissions, the oral hearings of the case. Now our legal team there was a meeting recently about a month ago in London to get an update and a briefing, Senator Courtenay attended that meeting and briefed me when he came back. Our expectation is that that date will be set later this year. So you know in the next few months we expect that that date will be set. It is likely, it is possible, we don’t have any firm dates of course but it’s possible that those oral hearings can be late this year or they can be sometime early in the first quarter of next year 2025, the oral hearings. So once we’ve gone through those oral hearings, you know those oral hearings will probably take a few weeks to be presented to the court. Then of course the court and the judges of the court will then have an opportunity to deliberate based on those hearings and you know there’s no fixed firm timeline in terms of a decision they will set that. But normally those decisions take around six moths or so to come down. So that is the general broad timeline you know because I don’t want anybody to hold me to it because it’s entirely up to the court to determine but in general “

As it relates to the second case before the ICJ involving Belize, Minister Fonseca explained that there is a possibility that both the Guatemala and the Honduras matter would be tied together considering the commonalities of territorial claims.

Francis Fonseca, Minister of Foreign Affairs: “We’ve made all of our submissions. You know again we initiated that claim because we felt listen we already have the ICJ matter with Guatemala lets use the opportunity to settle all of these outstanding issues if you’d like. So we’ve done that. Again we have made all of our written submissions they have done the same they have responded to those so we’re working through that process again. Guatemala, as expected, has asked to join the case as well because they claim to have an interest in the Sapodilla Cayes as well.”

Troy Gabb, Host, The Morning Show: The timeline will be the same give or take in terms of resolution ?

Francis Fonseca, Minister of Foreign Affairs: “Yeah pretty much the same timeline, it will be tied in. It’s even possible that they decide them together but that’s entirely up to the court. The court will make that determination if they want to join these cases. But yes the timeline will generally be over the next two years we expect that these matters will be resolved and we feel very confident about our case. And as I said we have as you all know Assad Shoman who has been at the forefront of this issue for many many decades under both governments. So we feel absolutely confident that this case will vindicate Belize’s long standing position of sovereignty over all of our territory, over our islands, over our marine spaces.”

Honduras is claiming Belize’s Sapodilla Cayes which is embedded in their constitution.  In its declaration, Belize notes 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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