The Guatemalan Claim Pt. 5

Part four of this important historical record left us with the sides – Guatemalan and British – are getting cocky and upstart with one another. This Article 7 seems to be the crux of the mischief. Please continue with the timeline below.

scales-justice Balance Scale of Justice.  Credit:

24th March 1937  The United Kingdom rejects the two proposals  pointing out that the 50,000 pounds contained in the 1863 supplementary Convention was not for compensation for cession of land or breach contract, but a desire to to effect an amicable settlement of the controversy that had arisen over Article 7 of the 1859 Convention

If the Guatemalans now found this unacceptable, the United Kingdom would proceed to treat the boundary, unilaterally demarcated by British engineers, as being in every respect the correct boundary in accordance with the 1859 Convention

10th May, 1937  Guatemala proposes arbitration with US President Franklin D Roosevelt as Umpire

17th August, 1937  United Kingdom accepts proposal for arbitration but rejects suggestion of arbitration by President of the United States and cites the ‘Hague Court’ as the tribunal through which the essentially legal issues of the case could be judged

Guatemala disagrees that the case was solely legalistic and asserts that British non-compliance with article 7 with the 1859 Convention  and non ratification of the 1863 Convention had liver time caused material losses and intangible injuries to Guatemala and that were beyond mere legal interpretation

Guatemala repeats its proposal arbitration by the President of the US

United Kingdom insists on use of an adequate entity with recognised impartiality

29th October, 1937 – 9th March, 1938  Exchanges of correspondence record ongoing disagreement over choice of arbiter

United Kingdom communication of 3rd March reiterates that the issue is essentially a legal one. In the circumstance, no useful purpose to be served in pursuing the matter further. UK position restated that the boundary agreed to in the 1859 Convention is the correct boundary

United Kingdom disclaims responsibility for any incident arising from any failure by Guatemala to observe the boundary

Guatemala protests the final tone of the declaration

October 1938  Guatemalan internationalization. Guatemala publishes 6,000 copies of the ‘White Book’ setting forth its grievances. Five thousand copies in Spanish and 1000 copies in English distributed to Foreign Ministries and Universities

 20th September 1939  United Kingdom informs Guatemala of preparedness to engage after the war (WW2) in negotiations to consider new proposals to resolve the controversy

21st September, 1939  Guatemala responds by welcoming the proposal to resolve what it refers to as the ‘lapsed Convention of 1859’

29th January, 1940  United Kingdom communicates its proposal to Guatemala

UK prepared to go tot eh permanent court of International Justice on basis of expanded competence of the court to judge the controversy on considerations of equity, ex aequo et bono

Alternatively: convening an ad hoc tribunal composed of a panel of jurists selected by both parties and chaired by an umpire agreed to by both of them

Or: Convening an ad Hoc tribunal of three international lawyers, one selected by each party, and one selected by the President of the USA

United Kingdom proposes that the question for judgment should be to:

  • Determine whether a practical method could be found to effectively carry out the obligations under Article 7 of the 1859 Convention
  • If negative, the extent of British responsibility for failure to carry out the mutual obligations under the article
  • Having ascertained the extent of British responsibility, how on legal and equitable basis, this should be discharged

3rd February, 1940  Guatemala accepts suggestion for ad hoc tribunal comprised of three international lawyers but rejects proposed questions to be judged, saying that they are too narrow. Guatemala posits that because of British non-fulfillment of its obligations,  the country had a right to regain possession of its territory that had been ceded to Britain in the 1859 Convention. Further, that the British should compensate Guatemala for loss of advantages,  material and intangible damages arising from failure to construct the road. Also for the effects of occupation of British Honduras that cut off all maritime communications from the Peten area

June 1940 – March 1945  Guatemala consistently lobbies the support of the Latin American States while assuring the United Kingdom until the war was over it would not take advantage of its opportunities in consideration of the state of world crisis that existed

11th March, 1945  Guatemalan Congress adopts new Constitution and in its first article proclaims that Belize is part of Guatemalan National territory, and declares that any steps taken to obtain its recovery were matters of national interest

19th September, 1945  Guatemalan National Congress issues a decree requesting the Executive to renew efforts for the recovery of the territory of Belize

24th September, 1945  Guatemala notifies the United Kingdom that with the end of the war it considers the suspension of the discussion at an end and that negotiations must be resumed to find a solution to Guatemala’s claim

14th January, 1946  The United Kingdom responds that the matter, being a legal dispute, should be judged by the successor of the Permanent Court of Justice, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), established under the charter of the United Nations on 24th of October, 1945 as its judicial organ

International_Court_of_Justice    https-::upload.wikimedia.orgThe International Court of Justice.  Credit:

13th February, 1946  The United Kingdom formally admits that she accepts the compulsory jurisdiction of the Court, without special agreement, for a period of 5 years. This is in relation to every other state accepting the same obligation, that is, the jurisdiction of the Court in all legal disputes concerning the validity of any treaty relating to the boundaries of British Honduras

One year later, Guatemala formally declares her acceptance of jurisdiction of the Court in all legal disputes, except the question of British Honduras where the competence of the Court was accepted only if the case was to be heard ex aequo bono

un-flag    http-::telo.orgThe Flag of the United nations.  Credit:

Oh man, things are becoming even more and more interesting! Both parties are standing their ground! How definitely interesting part 6 of this historical timeline will be! Look out for it.

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