Special Agreement Belize

This text has been reproduced and reformatted from the text available on the Belize government website: (visited on 10 March 2009) An interpretation of the above article suggests that the special agreement does not end in a simple “no” by referendum. It can only end with the agreement of the (two) parties. In 2008, at the request of the Organization of American States, Belize and Guatemala signed a special agreement (compromise) to settle the long-standing territorial dispute between the two countries before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). In the agreement, Belize committed to resolving the issue with the ICJ after Belizeans participated in a national referendum scheduled for April 10, 2019. However, the Government of Belizean never consulted before signing the agreement and the definition of the territorial dispute between Belize and Guatemala in such a document has been the subject of much criticism since then. The special agreement has attracted so much attention that Belize`s lawyers are preparing to challenge it in the Supreme Court to challenge its legality, validity and constitutionality. The special agreement specifies that a referendum must be held in both Guatemala and Belize on whether or not the Guatemalan claim (territorial, insular and seed) should be submitted to the jurisdiction of the ICC. If Belizeans vote in favour of the ICJ`s treatment, the case is brought before that court on the basis of the description in Article 2 of the special agreement. The article states that “the parties ask the Court to rule, in accordance with the applicable rules of international law set out in Article 38, paragraph 1, of the Statute of the Court, to rule on all Guatemalan claims against Belize in the land and island regions and in all maritime areas concerning those territories, to declare the rights of these two parties and to define the boundaries between their respective territories and territories.” The words “all and all of Guatemala`s legal claims against belize” are what have somewhat confused Belizeans and lawyers, as this gives no certainty as to what Guatemala really wants. Belize`s prominent lawyer, Richard “Dickie” Bradley, spoke briefly with the media about the ongoing legal dispute against the special agreement. “There will be a formal legal challenge to the legality and validity of the special agreement, which will take place very soon,” Bradley said.

He said: “There is a legal principle that a government can sign agreements with other countries and even enter into contracts. That is part of the executive`s role, so that the Minister of Foreign Affairs can sign agreements with other countries. But there are difficulties with some treaties, and it seems that the special agreement is one of those treaties.┬áThe lead lawyer indicated that the result of the signing of such an agreement, without the consultation of the Belizeans, puts them under pressure to vote in a referendum in order to claim the Guatemalan ICJ.

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