Prime Minister hosts press conference on ICJ referendum 
March 28, 2019
Statement by PM Barrow on ICJ Referendum
March 28, 2019

No Legal Opinion has EVER Said We would lose at Court

Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2019. 11:19 am CST.

The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.

By Concerned Belizean:

Introduction

Over the years many legal opinions have been written about the Belize Guatemala Dispute. All of them without question have concluded that Belize has nothing to fear by going to Court based on international law. The purpose of this article is to analyze a few key points from some of them.

The White Book (1938)

In 1938, Guatemala released a White Book – essentially a book detailing their position. In this White Book, they go into the nitty gritty. They look at a mind-numbing amount of documents trying to prove that Article 7 was compensatory, but, even after hundreds of pages of research and analysis, they had to admit:  

“The Article is vague, without fixed period and without sanctions, and does not clearly say that it was compensatory”

The Hudson Opinion (1950)

In 1950, Guatemala asked world renowned international lawyer Manley O. Hudson to write a legal opinion for them. Despite trying to paint Guatemala’s case in the best possible light, even he had to conclude that:  

“The writer cannot advise the Government of Guatemala to seek to bring the whole dispute to the Court for judgement. This view is based on the writer’s fear that it is highly improbable that the Court would give a judgement in Guatemala’s favor.”

The Bianchi Opinion (1959)

In 1959, an independent jurist William Bianchi, who actually supported Guatemala at first, decided to look at the issue. After looking at Guatemala’s case in detail, even he had to conclude that:

“…Guatemala has a legally desperate case.”

The Joint Opinion (1978)

Three years before independence, we Belizeans asked two top international lawyers, to write a legal opinion on the issue and give their own legal analysis of our position. Even they, after looking at whether or not the British violated Article 7 and other matters, had to admit that:

“The basic reliance of Guatemala upon the doctrine of Uti Possidetis is unsound”

2001 Opinion (2001)

In 2001, while the OAS process was underway, Belize asked four top international lawyers, including a past judge at the ICJ, to look at our case. After looking at the facts, they concluded that:

“Belize has good title to all its territory. Guatemala’s claim is without merit and would be regarded as such by the ICJ”

The BAR Opinion (2019)

 After years and years of legal opinions, some people still wanted a more updated legal opinion. In 2019, the BAR Association came to the rescue and delivered another one to reasure the people. They commissioned the renowned Caribbean Professor, Stephen Vasciannie to give his opinion on the issue.  After being exceedingly generous towards Guatemala’s claims, even he had to conclude that:

“on the present writer’s reading of the law, it [Article 7] does not have an impact on the drawing of the Belizean boundary.”

Conclusion

In the months leading up to April 10th, many people have been spreading fear that we can lose at Court. Based on all the legal analysis done by people knowledgeable in international law, these people are wrong. Yet, many people still continue to spread this lie.

I don’t write this with hoping to convince people to vote yes. I only write this with the hopes of spreading the facts. If you take issue with this article, please tell me where I’ve been factually incorrect.

Whether we vote yes or no on April 10th, just let’s just be sure that our decision is based on the facts.

– A Concerned Belizean

 

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