Belize is operating within a 10-month window as the country’s countermemorial to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) comes due in June 2022. The countermemorial is the country’s submission in the Belize/Guatemala territorial differendum. It is a long standing dispute between the two countries that may finally have a solution once both sides submit to the judges at the ICJ. Since both countries took the matter to the ICJ, Guatemala has submitted its claim on Belize which will not be made public until the case begins before the panel of judges. Speaking on where we are on the submission was the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Courtenay.
Perhaps one of the biggest triggers for both countries in deciding to go to the ICJ with an aim to settle the matter was the disputes at the Sarstoon River. It was in May 2016 that officials from Belize and Guatemala met in Istanbul, Turkey where it was decided that Sarstoon protocol would be drafted. To date no such document or agreement has been finalized. Minister Eamon Courtenay attended that meeting and had commented to Love News that he was skeptical that the agreement would happen. Today as the substantive Minister of Foreign Affairs, Courtenay gave an update on the issue.
Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Foreign Affairs: “We want a protocol to deal with the Sarstoon and we have not been able to agree one. The issue there of course is our right of access and continued right of unimpeded access into the Sarstoon. I would say that over the last few months there has been a complete lessening of tensions and interference. The Belize Defence Force and the Coast Guard go into the Sarstoon without any interference or hinderance from the Guatemlans so that’s a significant improvement. Nonetheless we want a protocol and we continue to press for a protocol and I’m not sure we’re going to get one because we have to agree and I don’t think they’re disposed to agreeing one.”
The Belize delegation to Istanbul, Turkey was headed by the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wilfred Sedi Elrington.