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EDITORIAL – March 8th.

EDITORIAL – March 8th.
March 08
12:54 2019

By Mr. Henry Lawrence,

What more do we need to do to prove to Belizeans that it is perfectly safe for us to take our case against Guatemala to the ICJ?

We have demolished the Guatemalan argument about Uti Posidetis by showing that she did not inherit any Caribbean coastland from Spain, because Belizean Baymen were in full occupation of all of Belize before Guatemala became an independent nation in 1821.

Our Baymen ancestors fought successfully to keep Belize at the Battle of St.George’s Caye in 1798, and we have been here ever since in peaceful occupation of the land. Belize’s borders were fixed in the Treaty of 1859, 38 years after Guatemala became independent. They were confirmed in the Treaty of 1931 (the Exchange of Notes) and a map of the area was signed by both countries.

We have shown that Guatemala has no power or authority to change Belize’s borders. The Geneva Convention states emphatically that no country acting on it own has the authority to change any border with its neighbour.

We have quoted four resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly (#32/33 of 1977, # 33/36 of 1978, #34/38 of 1979), and #36/20 of 1980 ) which declare that Belize should have her independence with all of her territory intact.
We have shown in case after case where the ICJ has ruled that border treaties have a life of their own and cannot be changed by unilateral action, or even military occupation.

We have demonstrated moreover that an eminent group of international experts (the Lauterpacht Report), after a careful study of the Guatemalan claim, concluded in 2001 that this claim is contrived, and cannot stand up to the scrutiny of international law.

This is an overwhelming body of evidence! Any reasonable person, looking objectively at this evidence, will see that Belize has an ironclad case.

Still there are individuals who are vociferously opposed to having any dealings with the ICJ. They make excuses that the time is not ripe, or that the ICJ cannot be trusted, or that by submitting to the ICJ Belize will be giving up part of her sovereignty.

The ICJ has helped scores of countries to overcome their border issues, and all have accepted the authority of this distinguished international court.

We are forced to the conclusion that some people cannot be convinced by arguments of reason, and will perhaps never be convinced. But for the rest of us Belizeans we have our reason and our common sense, and these will lead us safely through the troubled sea of discontent and bring us safely home. Long live Belize!

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