Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2019. 10:48 am CST.
By Concerned Belizean:
Yesterday Krem held a public event so that people could air their views. In order to help them in this effort, I’ve decided to write this so as to clear up some misconceptions that came up.
When the Special Agreement was written, it was written in consultation with top international lawyers.
“Any and all legal claims” was included so that once we got to Court, Guatemala would never be able to make its claim again. It would have to throw ALL it has on the table. If we go to Court under the Special Agreement, the dispute will be finished once and for all.
The Special Agreement also ensures that the Court can only look at the law. That is, the Court would have to look treaties, international custom, general principles of law, and past cases. Guatemala wouldn’t be able to mention things like fairness. When looking at the law, Belize has a 100% chance of winning.
2) We can lose
Under the Special Agreement, Belize cannot lose a blade of grass or drop of water. Under the Special Agreement, the Court would HAVE to look at TREATIES, INTERNATIONAL CUSTOM, GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF LAW, and PAST CASES.
Under treaties, we have TWO treaties (the 1859 Treaty and 1931 Exchange of Notes) to prove our title to our land while Guatemala has none.
Under International Custom, the Court would have to look at who has been here the longest. We have been here for over 200 years and, in fact, the Spanish never settled this territory.
Under the general principles of law, we have the right to self-determination. That is, we have the right to live however we want within all our territory from the Rio Hondo to Sarstoon. This has been reaffirmed many times by the international community.
Under Past Cases, the Court has always said that once you agree on a border, that border stays. You could rip up the treaty, but the border would still be there. The Court has said this as early as 1925 and has continued to say it such as in 1962, 1978, 1994 and 2007.
We can’t lose PG. If we look at the facts, we can’t lose any part of Belize. But even assuming that we could lose a part of Belize, the Southern half of the where both the British and Guatemalans put border monuments. Guatemala can argue all it wants and say that no border exists, but they can’t change the fact they put the border monuments there.
It’s highly unlikely the Special Agreement could be renegotiated. Why would the Guatemalans agree to renegotiate ANOTHER Special Agreement when they’ve already voted yes? That would mean they’d have to spend millions of dollars having another referendum. So, technically it’s possible, but it’s highly unlikely.
If we vote yes, we go to Court, win, and we would jointly clear the border. If Guatemala doesn’t comply, the OAS Secretary General would be able to force them to. If the OAS can’t force them to, we’d be able to take them to the world police (the UN Security Council), so they’d be forced to comply.
The dispute would live on. Guatemala would continue claiming our land and, more than likely, we’d pass the dispute on to our children.
We’d also look bad in the world stage. Guatemala would be able to tell our friends that we’re not a peace-loving country because we refused to go to Court. If Guatemala were to cause the trouble along the Sarstoon and we were to complain, Guatemala would be able to point to the fact that we don’t want to solve this dispute and claim what they’re doing is okay. Also, it’d make us look like we’re not sure of our title – if you have a piece of land and you know it’s yours, why would you be afraid of going to Court?
We all have a right to vote on April 10th. While some people may try to make this a political issue, we need to remember that this is a serious matter. This dispute affects all Belizeans and will continue to do so if it remains unresolved. So whatever you decide to vote on April 10th, just make sure you’re informed and know the facts.
– A Concerned Citizen
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