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Date for ICJ oral argument on three-way territory dispute to be set in coming months, announces Foreign Affairs Minister as he salutes Belize’s “well-regarded” diplomatic profile

Posted: Friday, March 22, 2024. 9:14 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: According to Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Francis Fonseca, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is getting ready to consider a date for the hearing of oral arguments in Belize’s case against Guatemala over the long-standing territorial dispute, and the related claim by Honduras over the Sapodilla Cayes.

“All parties have complied with the requirement for written submissions to be delivered, and we are now awaiting the International Court of Justice to set a date for the presentation of oral [arguments]. We expect such a date to be set perhaps late this year or early next year; that’s when the date will be set, and then we can proceed with oral [arguments]. We have consistently said Belize has a very strong case, and the ICJ’s judgment, in our view, will vindicate our long-held position that Belize is sovereign over the full 8,867 square miles of our territory, our islands, and our maritime spaces,” Fonseca told the House of Representatives during the Budget Debate on Wednesday.

Fonseca thanked the Organization of American States (OAS) for its support in coordinating patrol activity along the borderline with Guatemala in the West and South and helping to resolve disputes and build peace.

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In other news from the Ministry which he took over from Senator Eamon Courtenay in January, Fonseca said Belize’s diplomatic profile remains “well-regarded globally,” as it has made new friends around the world and demonstrated leadership on critical issues and taken “bold and principled positions” on major issues including Haiti and Israel/Hamas among many others.

Belize continues to hold to its principles in condemning Russia and Israel for their actions against Ukraine and the Gaza Strip respectively while also condemning Hamas’ actions against Israel, and supporting friends such as Cuba, Guyana, and the Republic of China (Taiwan).

Belize now has diplomatic relations with Benin, Gambia, and Cape Verde Islands, Uzbekistan in Central Asia, and the Solomon Islands in the Pacific, and has established a first-time High Commission in Guyana from which Belize will expand diplomatic efforts throughout South America. For the Belizean-American diaspora in the United States, the Government has expanded consular services at the Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York City, allowing access to the EPICS passport service from consulates across America.

Fonseca said Belize successfully chaired the Central American Integration Summit (SICA) group from January to June 2023, including building a bridge to cooperation with South Korea and a meeting of trade ministers from CARICOM and SICA. We engaged the European Union (EU) on joining the Schengen Visa List to allow greater access to the European continent and obtained a US$45 million development loan for the construction of the University Hospital in Belmopan and a US$77 million loan for the 60-megawatt solar energy plant, both from the Saudi Fund.

Negotiations continue on a Partial Scope Trade Agreement with both El Salvador and Guatemala while the Mexican Sembrando Vida project is underway countrywide. The number of scholarships granted by the OAS to Belizean students stood at 276 in 2023, while eight more doctors have graduated from the Cuban system.

 

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