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The cost of the ICJ Campaign borne by both Guatemala and Belize is in the millions of dollars. The referendum questions revolve around laws of the land and also laws of the sea. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), is the international agreement that defines the rights and responsibilities of nations with their use of the world’s oceans. It determines the guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources. Former Prime Minister Said Musa explained how UNCLOS and Guatemala’s unfounded claim would be discussed in light of the proposed ICJ referendum, particularly when it comes to our southern waters.


Former Prime Minister Said Musa: “There is a law called the Law of the sea (Unclos) and when we were negotiating with Guatemala to try and solve the problem way back in 1992 I think it was or ‘91 we promoted and signed a legislative for the Maritime Areas Act and what that does is in a sense state that we as an independent country because this is 10 years after Independence now are claiming what we are entitled to under the law of the sea. Save and accept that in the very deep south we are restricting ourselves to three miles territorial seas for the purpose of negotiating a settlement and to bring and end to the Guatemalan claim to our country. That expression for the purpose of is very important because it was during the negotiations that we passed that Maritime Areas Act. Now the negotiations have ended so we are entitled now to go back to our claim generally for what we are entitled to under the law and sea which in the case of the south because of the contours of our land mass as well as Guatemala and Honduras we will not be entitled to twelve miles territorial sea which is the norm because of the convergence of the three points but to the median line which some people say is as much as six miles, could be in certain areas. Master Lecky is perfectly right in telling you that, that we have not yet fully claimed or wonder what we are entitled to under international law but we would and the ICJ will bound you to decide that issue that we are entitled to, whatever is on that law of the sea because they are bound by statute as well.”

Jose Sanchez: “So it is not necessarily that we would lose, we just don’t know?”

Former Prime Minister Said Musa: “We haven’t claimed it so we wouldn’t lose anything. Some people are saying that okay suppose the ICJ for instance were to say “but you only claimed three miles man you know, settle for that man you know, hold on to that” we wouldn’t be losing anything as such because we haven’t claimed it before but we are entitled to claim it and we will claim it, I would hope that we will claim it because we are not negotiating. We are now deciding this matter, putting it to the ICJ is people so vote based on strictly legal principles.

The referendum takes place on April 10.