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EDITORIAL – October 5th. 2018

October 05
15:32 2018

Every country’s territorial space is defined by its borders. The borders of a country are like a fence around its property. The fence keeps marauders and other unwanted people off the property. When raiders with bad intentions want to come on to your land, they try to break down your fence. Once the fence is gone, it is easy for them to come in.

This is what Jorge Ubico of Guatemala tried to do in 1941. He tried to destroy Belize’s borders by breaking down the fence. He did this by denouncing the Treaty of 1859 which created the fence that defines Belize. But his efforts to destroy our borders by renouncing the 1859 Treaty were not successful. The Convention of 1931, ratified by the Exchange of Notes, confirmed the validity of the border and also approved the survey on the ground establishing border markers at the river Sarstoon at Gracias a Dios and at the Belize River at Garbutt’s Falls.

These survey marks define Belizean territory. Everything east of these boundary marks belongs to Belize: the Caribbean Sea within the limits of her exclusive economic zone and all the islands from Ambergris Caye in the north to Hunting Caye and Lime Caye in the south. Belizeans don’t have to bother with the complications of uti possidetis.

We don’t have to worry about who was the rightful owner of the land when Guatemala became independent in 1821.

We do not have to concern ourselves over whether or not the cart road which Britain promised was Britain’s default.

All we have to do is to show that in 1859 Guatemala agreed to a treaty with the United Kingdom; a treaty which defined the borders with Belize.

We also need to show that the 1859 treaty was confirmed by the 1931 Convention, when surveyors on the ground actually cut a line through the bush, established the co-ordinates for the border in the west and put down concrete monuments to mark the border positions. In the Convention of 1931 Guatemala acknowledged and accepted these border markers.
If the International Court of Justice finds that Belize has a border established by Treaty, there is nothing more that Guatemala can say or do to undermine that simple fact.

Under the Geneva Convention on the Law of Treaties Guatemala cannot win her claim against Belize. The ICJ has made its position abundantly clear. Once a border has been agreed upon by treaty, the border will stand, even though the treaty creating the border may fail.

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