Defeating the unfounded Guatemalan claim is of supreme importance to Belize – crucial to sovereignty and territorial integrity. “The Guatemalan claim is a threat to Belize’s very existence…a serious issue…more than serious…dangerous.” Evan X Hyde, Amandala No.2900, Page 9, Wednesday June 10th, 2015.
Illegal incursions by Guatemalans into Belize with resulting environmental degradation, harvesting of plants and animals, mineral extractions, settlements, physical conflicts including the use of weapons and firearms with resultant wounding and loss of life will continue until there is a definitive resolution with recognized and demarcated borders. “it was clear that hundreds of negotiating sessions over the years…had not brought the matter any closer to resolution…What was needed was a mechanism that resulted in binding resolution be it arbitration or judicial settlement.” (A History of Belize in 30 Chapters by Assad Shoman. Pg 233)
“Belize and Guatemala took the most important step in the history of the dispute by signing the special agreement to submit Guatemalas territorial island and maritime claim to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for a definitive judgment.” Democratic Governance, Pg 55, Jose Miguel Insulza, OAS 2005-2015.s
The benefits include:
- Settlement of the unfounded claim with land border affirmed exactly as per the 1859 treaty
- Given that the rules of international law dictate that the maritime jurisdiction of a country derives from the territory belonging to said country, once the claim is resolved Belize will benefit from its rightful maritime boundary.
- The application of the United Nations convention on the law of the sea (UNCLOS) equidistance principles will result in the delineating our rightful and just territorial maritime boundary with no loss of islands or cayes.
- For hundreds of years the Guatemalan claim has pitted Belizeans against each other, with a fair, just and honourable solution the citizens will move forward together as one.
The equidistant principles when applied to the waters in the Gulf of Honduras will likely place the border line equidistance between Hunting Caye (Belize) and Punta Manabique (Guatemala). See Suggestion exibit 1
In the extreme south of Belize the territorial sea will therefore be less than the 12 miles that will be entitled to North of the Sapodilla Range/Hunting Caye.
A proper and fair application of the equidistant principle down south will involve Belize, Guatemala and Honduras with none of the three countries having 12 miles of territorial sea in that immediate area. But all should be dealt with fairly – No country will be disadvantaged and most importantly Belize will cede no island, caye or reef.
The Mexican delegate reiterated that if there were to be a change of status, the rights of Mexico over a part of the territory would have to be taken into account.