Belize will sign a compromise with Guatemala in Washington

Next week, officials of Belize and Guatemala will sign a special agreement, or compromise. This document will be submitted to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and it will set out the terms under which Belize and Guatemala would seek the court’s intervention into their conflict.

The two countries hope that the International Court of Justice will help them settle the age-old territorial claim of Guatemala over half of the territory of Belize.

The compromise is to be signed at the headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS) on December 8, 2008. According to the Government of Belize, this agreement will be made public only after it is signed in Washington.

Neither Belize nor Guatemala have given the Court of Justice mandatory jurisdiction over disputes with other states, so the it can only hear the case if both countries submit the special agreement. In the case of the dispute between the two countries, the court will be asked to make a final determination on where the border of Belize with Guatemala is located.

It should be indicated that, according to Guatemala, Belize’s southern border ends at the Sibun River in the Belize District, while everything below there belongs to Guatemala’s territory. Belize, in its turn, considers that under the 1859 Convention between Britain and Guatemala (this convention sets out Belize’s boundaries as detailed in the 1981 Constitution of Belize) the southern border ends at the Sarstoon River in Toledo, not at the Sibun River, as the Guatemala claims.

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