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Will a Guatemalan Gov’t respect an ICJ ruling that is against their favor?

On April 15 or in 47 days, seven million registered voters are expected to participate in the referendum in Guatemala. Voters there will decide whether or not to take the territorial, insular and maritime dispute between Belize and Guatemala to the International Court of Justice. Both governments want the matter to be settled at the ICJ, but, that decision is left to the people. Countries such as Japan and the USA have rejected ICJ rulings, so today Love News asked Minister Sandra Jovel Polanco if her government intends to respect the ICJ’s ruling if it is against her government.

Sandra Jovel Polanco, Guatemalan Foreign Affairs Minister

“I think we are…You all know that on April 15 will be the people’s referendum in Guatemala. Guatemala is doing the same to inform the population about what is referred to as the territorial, insular, and maritime dispute we have with Belize. And let it be the International Court of Justice to decide what will be process. We are willing to abide by  what the court decides. That is where we are going. That is why we want to have the referendum on April 15 and be able to take a step closer to peace, a step of development for both countries that later will results in benefits for both. I think our mission as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Government is precisely to inform, inform what is correct, inform so that the population at that time can vote, and decide the future of both countries.”

Belize’s Foreign Affairs Minister Wilfred Elrington agrees that the ICJ is the only logical option in order to settle the dispute.

Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“The ICJ is an imperative for all right thinking persons both in Belize and Guatemala because we have a dispute, a dispute which none of us caused but which we inherited and the only place you can resolve it peacefully and without harm being done to anybody both territory or person is by going to the ICJ. The ICJ is important because the ICJ tells us what are our legal rights and entitlement. We may have a view as Belizeans, the Guatemalans might have a view as a Belizeans but when we go to the ICJ the ICJ is going to tell us what in fact is proper position in law- and you’ve heard the Foreign Minister say that Guatemala is disposed to observing the decision of the ICJ, accepting it and we certainly in Belize will do so as well.”

The Guatemalan Government has changed the date three times before finalizing April 15 as the official date for its referendum. Belize is expected to carry out its referendum by the end of 2018 or early 2019.