The final leg of the claim (up to December 2008) has moved through some turbulent waters, so to speak. Today August 19th, 2015 the claim is as hot as ever.
The Belize Territorial Volunteers (BTV) made visit on the 16th August where close to 150 volunteers and press personnel came face to face with the Guatemalan Coast Guards bullying the Belizeans out of their own territorial space. Our Belizean Coast Guards, on the command of the present government, just sat idly on the dock of the southern mainland of Toledo. Included in the group of volunteers were the Organisation of American States (OAS) representatives, Wil Maheia one of the founding leaders of the groups and Senator Lisa Shoman.
17th September, 2002 Facilitators Proposals Presented to the people of Belize:
- They describe the m]land boundaries of Belize. These are exactly as described in the 1859 Convention
- They propose that Belize retain its territorial sea entitlement as proposed by the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982)
- They propose a settlement in Belize/relocation to Guatemala scheme for the residents of Santa Rosa Village
- They call on Honduras and Belize to grant Guatemala an access corridor of unrestricted navigational rights extending two miles wide on either side of the Belize/Honduras territorial sea equidistance line boundary. This would enable unimpeded access to the high seas to Guatemala in accordance with UNCLOS principles
- They call on Honduras to provide, equally, a Guatemalan exclusive economic zone of 2000 square nautical miles in the Gulf of Honduras
- They propose a Belize Guatemala Honduras Ecological Park in the Gulf of Honduras
- They propose a US$200million Development Fund for development projects in both countries
- They propose that Belize commence negotiations on free trade and bi-lateral investment treaties
- They recommended that required national referenda of the proposals be held in both countries within 75 days,on the same day f approved, the drafting and signing of necessary treaties to give effect to the proposals should be proceeded with. Confidence Building measures should remain in place until then
- Side letter signed by both Ministers says that if proposals not approved the parties will consider referring the dispute for judgment by a legal body
3oth September, 2002 Facilitations process formally concludes in Washington DC. International Community congratulates the parties, pledges support, and urges implementation of the proposals
October 2002 Belize moves quickly to educate the Belizean public on the proposals and to initiate the legislative process required to conduct the national referendum to meet the end November deadline
Guatemala cites constitutional problems pose implementation difficulties
24th October, 2002 Facilitators write the Foreign Ministers advising that because practical difficulties prevent meeting the deadline for the referenda this should be rescheduled by mutual agreement
Electoral politics in Guatemala and the tremendous unpopularity of the Portillo Government strengthen the hand of those in Congress opposed to the proposals which receive no circulation in that body
Foreign Minister Gabriel Orellana eventually resigns
7th february, 2003 After 2 Ministerial meetings an ‘Agreement to establish a Transition Process and Confidence Building Measures between Belize and Guatemala’ is signed by Assad Shoman, Belize’s Foreign Minister; and Edgar Gutierrez, Guatemala’s new Foreign Minister, to bridge the time between the presentation of the proposals on 16th September 2002 and the time Guatemala is able and prepared to conduct a referendum
Former Foreign Minister of Belize, Assad Shoman.
It is agreed that an OAS office is to be established in the adjacency zone
Group of friends of the Process consisting of 13 countries pledge to assist the parties in this stage of the process
5th March, 2003 People’s United Party wins General Elections for consecutive second term of government
27th August, 2003 Guatemala communique states that it has informed the OAS that the proposals in present form are unacceptable and not consistent with the laws of Guatemala and therefore does not meet the legal or political conditions necessary for the conduct of a national referendum
Guatemala commits to abiding by the COnfidence Building Measures
Belize expresses disappointment and the view that the Guatemalan action is a breach of the 7th February Agreement and thus a violation of International Law
January 2004 Oscar Berger is inaugurated as President of Guatemala
24th February, 2004 The Guatemalan Foreign Ministry formally adopts the position of the past Government rejecting the Facilitators Proposals. State of impasse. Continuing informal dialogue with OAS participation occurs
7th September, 2005 Agreement on a framework for negotiations and Confidence Building Measures signed between Belize, Guatemala and the OAS
The document expressly recognises that the agreement to resolve the territorial dispute may not be reached
The agreement authorises the OAS Secretary General to advise of judicial recourse if agreement cannot be reached
The parties, with the participation of Honduras, fail to reach agreement on maritime areas principles for the Gulf of Honduras
The settlement of land boundaries is a prerequisite for the settlement of maritime boundaries
The parties fail to reach agreement on land boundary and territorial issues (as expected)
14th October, 2007 At a meeting in Washington DC at OAS headquarters, the Chief Negotiator for Belize Assad Shoman, and Guatemalan Foreign Minister Gert Rosenthal inform OAS Secretary Jose Insulza that they are unable to reach agreement on any issue and that they would be willing to submit the entire dispute to the ICJ
19th November, 2007 OAS Secretary General writes the parties recommending that the dispute is referred to the International Court of Justice for adjudication subject to the constitutional processes of Belize and Guatemala
May 2008 Belize and Guatemala signal their acceptance of the OAS Secretary General’s recommendation to refer the territorial dispute to the International Court of Justice subject to the will of the people of Belize and Guatemala
8th December, 2008 The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Belize and the Republic of Guatemala sign the ‘Special Agreement to submit Guatemala’s Territorial, Insular and Maritime Claim to the International Court of Justice’, subject to the conduct of national referenda in both countries
The referendum has never been organised or initiated in any of the countries in now, 2015. Presently, a group of Patriotic Belizeans have decided to make bold, nationalistic moves to “claim” our stake in the Sarstoon River – certainly, Guatemala takes offence to this. However, we are in our country, in tact and free and its up to our government, on behalf of the people of Belize to honour the nationalistic countenance of the people of Belize.
Long live Belize!