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Belize & the International Community – The Cost of Saying No to ICJ

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Posted: Friday, March 29, 2019. 8:34 pm CST.

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

By Delroy Cuthkelvin: In his most recent Press Conference on the ICJ Referendum, Prime Minister Right Honorable Dean Barrow defended the rights of Belizean citizens to say No to the ICJ and asserted that doing so would NOT make them any less patriotic than those who vote YES. But, as he has done from the beginning, the Prime Minister made it emphatically clear that he believes a YES vote would be best for the country.       

Perhaps one of the most compelling reasons for voting YES is the consideration of what implications a NO vote could have on continued goodwill by the international community. The PM addressed that issue at Thursday’s press conference in response to a question from retired, veteran Belizean journalist Glenn Tillett. And, while the PM was guarded in his response, for fear of appearing to engage in fear-mongering, he was clear in his position that reaction by the international community is something Belizeans should NOT disregard in making our decision on the ICJ.

“We can’t simply dismiss the international community and the reaction that they would have to our voting NO,” the PM cautioned. “And I believe we would certainly pay a price in terms of a lessening of support for our position on the part of the international community if we were to vote NO. Again, because I am not trying to fear-monger, I don’t say that the (international) community would all of a sudden tell us, ‘Oh, well we no longer support your independence and territorial integrity at all.’ No, that’s not going to happen. But, in perhaps other ways, a more incremental fashion, there is going to be a situation in which, when we ask, as we always do, for these resonant pronouncements in international forums in favor of Belize’s territorial integrity, there will be a slacking of the will on the part of the international community to do that, because there’s no doubt that they would feel hard done by (the fact) that Belize did not vote to go to the ICJ and to settle this matter once and for all.”

Now, while we ourselves will also doggedly resist engaging in any fear-mongering, there’s a related consideration that we feel compelled to highlight. It is the fact that, notwithstanding the international community’s steadfast support, in principle, for Belize’s sovereignty, we must accept that as an independent nation for the past 38 years, we are ultimately responsible for our own wellbeing. And, in the current global, geo-political climate, there are serious questions about what specific nations would actually be willing or able to do in assisting us to defend our sovereignty in the face of any possible military conflict in the future, should we fail to peacefully, diplomatically or legally resolve our territorial differences with our neighbors.

Consider, for example, the fact that today the crisis of uncertainty in our former mother country (the United Kingdom), to whom we have traditionally turned for defense of a military nature, seems to have descended to a new low over the question of leaving the European Union, the deadline for the implementation of BREXIT having arrived and the British Parliament still being unable to agree on a deal for the scheduled exit from the EU.

This, combined with the new self-centered foreign policy posture of the United States under President Trump, should cause us to stop, to think, and to appreciate that, in this new world order, the balance between global interdependence and national self-determination is perhaps more delicate than it has ever been; that, while the world is, for purposes of commerce and social interaction, a global village, politically we must be prepared to chart our own course and paddle our own canoe.

This, we respectfully submit, is not fear-mongering, just a sober serving of food for thought at this critical juncture.          

 

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