This series of articles written in 2008 and 2009 attempts to familiarize readers with both the history of the Belize-Guatemala territorial differendum and the work of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), to which it is proposed that Belize and Guatemala submit the case for final and binding arbitration.

My article series:

 

WHERE THE HELL IS BELIZE?

AMANDALA — 26 February 2009— by Adele Ramos
“…the district of Punta Gorda?”
Those of us Belizeans who traveled abroad when Belize was not yet a major tourist attraction often got this response when talking about our beloved homeland: “Where the hell is Belize?” Our answer has always been something to the effect that we are a beautiful, peaceful, pristine tropical country, bounded to the north by Mexico and south and west by Guatemala, and that we sit on the east coast of Central America. In our minds, the territory of Belize has always been unambiguously defined – all 8,867 square miles of it. We’ve always asserted our sovereignty, even in the face of claims by Guatemala that our territory belongs to it.
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MARITIME DELIMITATION RULING FOR ROMANIA AND UKRAINE

AMANDALA— 05 February 2009— by Adele Ramos
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) this week made a final and binding ruling in the 40-year-old dispute between Romania and Ukraine, located in southeastern Europe, over territory in the Black Sea.
 
In 2004, and after several rounds of failed negotiations, Romania filed the case at the UN court, asking the court to resolve the dispute over 12,000 square kilometers of sea. The task of the court was to pronounce on where the maritime boundaries of the respective countries lie.

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AMANDALA— 30 January 2009— by Adele Ramos
United Nations (UN) member countries have the option of submitting cases for final and binding determination to the International Court of Justice (ICJ); but nothing in the UN Charter or the Statutes of the ICJ guarantees any country full enforcement of any ICJ ruling.
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AMANDALA— 23 January 2009— by Adele Ramos
A couple issues ago, we gave you an idea of the range of cases that have gone before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). In the last judgment issued on Monday, the ICJ made a unanimous ruling declaring that the United States of America had violated international treaty—specifically the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, and a 2008 order of ICJ, when it executed a convicted Mexican in Texas last year. The unusual case was lodged by Mexico at the UN court against the US, with the specific complaint being against the state of Texas.
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CUSTOMARY INTERNATIONAL LAWMORE ON THE BELIZE LEGAL OPINION OF 2001

AMANDALA, 15 January 2009— by Adele Ramos
The Government of Belize has declared, in a Quick Facts summary to the media last November, that in the event that a referendum approves that the dispute between Belize and Guatemala should be heard at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), it would argue the case based on (1) the treaties of 1859 and 1931, (2) the right to self-determination, as enshrined in the United Nations Charter, and (3) customary international law.
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AMANDALA— 29 December 2008— by Adele Ramos
“…weight must be given to the right of self-determination of the people of Belize manifested in their acquisition of independence in 1981… ‘Guatemala has recognised the right to self-determination of the people of Belize…’”
 
– Summary, Joint Opinion of Sir Elihu Lauterpacht CBE, QC, Judge Stephen M. Schwebel,
Professor Shabtai Rosenne, and Professor Francisco Orrego Vicuña, pages 4 and 7
AMANDALA— 22 December 2008— by Adele Ramos
“The area of the mainland and cayes is 8,867 square miles. The country’s greatest length from
north to south is 280 kilometers and its greatest width is 109 kilometers.”
 
This is official information published on the website of the Government of Belize, detailing the size of the country’s territory—Maya Mountains, hills, valleys and coastal plains located on the northeastern corner of Central America, bounded to the north and north-northwest by Mexico, and to the west and south by Guatemala. To the east lies the Caribbean Sea.
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AMANDALA— 16 December 2008
Territorial disputes are one of the most pervasive stains of the colonial era, often straining relations between neighboring states around the world, and particularly so in places like Africa. In the fourth installment of this column, in an article dated Friday, November 21, 2008, and captioned: The court in action – Some territorial and border disputes decided by the ICJ, we cited some cases, including the Nigeria/Cameroon case, and the Benin/Niger disputes.
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GUATEMALA’S ARGUMENTS WITH RESPECT TO THE CLAIM

AMANDALA, 09 December 2008— by Adele Ramos 
Much has been said about the Belize position on the territorial dispute with Guatemala, but not much has been relayed on the Belize side of the border on what the Guatemala position is. The extent of the information popularly relayed to Belizeans is that the Guatemalans now consider the 1859 Convention it signed with England to be null and void, and that our neighbor claims more than half our territory.
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INTRODUCING ICJ STATS

AMANDALA— 25 November 2008— by Adele Ramos
Territorial disputes between nation states are not unique to Belize and Guatemala. In fact, they have occurred all over the world, and a significant amount of cases have been heard by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), an arm of the United Nations. For this fourth installment of ICJ Stats, Amandala did a random search of cases on the Internet (particularly using international news reports and the ICJ’s database as sources). We came up with some very interesting examples that we hope
can expand our understanding on the powers of the ICJ and the scope of its work.
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