Letters — 15 December 2015
Guatemala’s and Belize’s Dispute

Dear Editor,

I was intrigued by Adele Ramos’s “Belize and Guatemala Sign ICJ Protocol.” In the article, Ramos says that there is a possibility that the territorial dispute between the countries will be taken to the international Court of Justice, but I don’t think this will solve the problem. The article says that the ICJ will have full power over the final decision.

Guatemala’s claim has violated the Treaty of 1859 between that country and Britain which set borders between Belize and Guatemala that the countries agreed on. This is Belize’s main argument against the claim but the opposing country has always found a way to justify the claim. Guatemala says that the treaty was signed when Belize was a colony of Britain so it does not count, and that the treaty was voided because there was never a highway built to connect the two countries. Guatemala also claims that Belize hinders its economy because it covers the coastline. It seems like the decades-old dispute won’t end until a decision is made in Guatemala’s favor.

Taking the problem to the ICJ will not solve the problem because it is probable that current borders will remain. If Belize does win the case then the situation will only become worse because Guatemala’s claim will become stronger. I believe that the two countries should have a meeting, supervised by the ICJ, and revise the Treaty of 1859.

Territorial disputes are hard to resolve because there is always one country that has a strong claim on property that does not belong to it. Territorial disputes can only be solved by the countries that are involved in the conflict.

Julian Usher

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