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Editorial – March 29th., 2019

Editorial – March 29th., 2019
March 29
19:19 2019

For decades Guatemala has been resisting the idea of going to the ICJ to test her territorial claim against Belize.

When she finally relented, she wanted to submit her claim under a protocol known as ex aequo et bono,which would allow her to introduce the question of compensation for Britain’s alleged failure to help build a dirt road to the sea.

Belize would have none of that because aequo et bono would introduce an element of speculation into the claim based on a promise that had nothing to do with Belizean sovereignty.

Belize has always contended that the claim is a legal issue and must be settled in strict accordance with international law.

Under law (the Law of Treaties) Guatemala acknowledged the borders of the “British Settlement and Possessions in the Bay of Honduras” when she signed the Treaty of 1859.

Guatemala repeated her acknowledge-ment in the Treaty ( Exchange of Notes) of 1931, when her Commissioners signed a map showing the boundary line.

These acknowledgements were clear and unequivocal. Nowhere in the 1859 Treaty is there any mention of a quid pro quo, and it becomes clear that Article 7 which pledged British help, “to use her best efforts” to build a dirt road to the sea,” was a carefully worded promise of assistance, not part of a land deal.

There is no doubt that Guatemala wanted to get something out of the 1859 Treaty over and above the stability that a treaty with Britain would provide. But negotiating with the British was tough going, and Guatemala eventually settled for what she could get.

Article One of the 1859 Treaty says it all:

“The boundary between the Republic and the British Settlement and Possessions in the Bay of Honduras, as they existed previous to and on the 1st day of January 1859 and have continued to exist to the present, was and is, as follows: Beginning at the mouth of the River Sarstoon in the Bay of Honduras and proceeding up the mid-stream thereof to Gracias a Dios Falls, then turning to the right and continuing by a line drawn direct from Gracias a Dios to Garbutt’s Falls on the Belize River and continuing from Garbutt’s Falls due north until it strikes the Mexican border.

Article One quoted above is a clear and incontrovertible recognition of a pre-existing border and a pre-existing sovereignty.

The evidence could not be clearer!

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