The declaration was read by former PUP Foreign Minister, Lisa Shoman. Shoman, who was appointed by former PM Said Musa held the post from June 2007 until the February 2008 General elections. Shoman opened by acknowledging that after 50 years of negotiations, Guatemala will not voluntarily agree to accept Belize’s territorial integrity based on the 1859 treaty.
Lisa Shoman Former Foreign Minister: “The only certain way to get the Guatemalan Government to recognize our legitimate border is through a binding ICJ order. 3 Under the Special Agreement which was negotiated by Belize with the advice of a team of legal international experts Guatemala for the first time finally abandoned its position held since 1936 that it would only go to the ICJ if the case was tried on the basis of equity or fairness. The Special Agreement makes clear that the ICJ will only be able to consider the matter on strictly legal grounds and principles and that Guatemala will not be allowed to make any further claims. 4 If the claim is not adjudicated at the ICJ the Guatemalan Government will continue to maintain that there are no borders between our countries, it will continue its attempts to impose its claims by issue of force, it will fail to prevent its citizens from illegally entering our territory, stealing our resources and severely damaging our environment and water supplies. This will cause irreparable damage and burden to our children with the consequences of our inaction. 5 Seeking an advisory opinion form the same ICJ Judges would not solve the problem since that would have no more weight than the countless diplomatic declarations that we have already gotten from almost every international organization. In addition the result of advisory opinions sought by other nations whose entire nations were likewise under attack such as the Western Sahara and Palestine is not something that Belizeans could possibly entertain. 6 Since the ICJ judges will be obliged to look only at the evidence and to apply only the law and establish only legal principles under article 381 of the ICJ statute as required by the Special Agreement we are entirely certain that there is no likelihood of Belize losing any territory weather terrestrial or Maritime. In addition all international lawyers who have fully examined all the evidence on both sides including several who advised Guatemala have concluded that Guatemala has no arguable case against Belize. It is for these reasons that we strongly urge a yes vote.
The declaration concludes by saying that an ICJ decision is irreversible and binding, enshrining forever our right to live in peace within the borders that could never again be challenged by anyone.