In today’s press conference, Prime Minister Dean Barrow spoke on the address delivered by the Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington at the UN’s General Assembly last week in New York, USA. Barrow, who once served as a Foreign Minister, clarified the statement made by Elrington, saying that when going to the International Court of Justice, it is an understood fact that countries would have to go to a referendum.
“In terms of the Foreign Minister’s speech at the UN, I was Foreign Minister one time and I always knew these General Assembly speeches to, in the main, concentrate on issues having to do with the UN’s global agenda. Climate Change is of course extremely high on that agenda. Now you do take the opportunity to say something about your particular circumstances and it was routine when I gave my speeches to re-assert Belizean sovereignty and to reject the unfounded Guatemalan claim but again, as I recollect I did that in a sentence or two. There is not too much to say, “Your claim is unfounded, we reject it. We are a sovereign independent country and we will remain that way”. So I don’t know that it was incumbent on the Minister to say very much more than he did. I also understand why people would have wanted him to spell out the fact that is absolutely implicit and universally known that you don’t go to the ICJ and you can’t go to the ICJ except there is a referendum that will pass in Belize. But again, when the Minister says we have signed a Protocol to the Special Agreement that will perhaps see us going to the ICJ, everybody knows that the Special Agreement provides for referendums to be held in both countries. It is a protocol to a kind of treaty arrangement; the fundamental essential of which is going to a referendum. So, to suggest that the Minister is guilty of some kind of effort to suggest that we no longer need a referendum is unfair, transparent and I think easily dismissed.”
That sentence made by Elrington is one that the Opposition has been campaigning on ever since the remarks were delivered last Friday.