Kindly permit me space in your most read newspaper to direct the Belizean public to my critique of a statement made by the People’s United Party (PUP) and to inform Belizeans that going to the “International Court of Justice (ICJ) is a terrible mistake.
I read with interest an article published in the Amandala of the 2nd August, 2015 with heading “No Ban On Military Bases.” I draw the attention of the Belizean public to the following which I quote from page fifty five (5): “The July 4th resolution of the PUP’s national executive says that, ‘we have as a party, always rejected in its totality, the unjust and unfounded claim of Guatemala to the land, maritime areas and insular waters of Belize.’” This article also states that the PUP is withdrawing its support of going to the ICJ.
Even though I am a supporter of the Government and the UDP, I subscribe to the PUP position of not supporting us going to the ICJ. However, I draw to the PUP’s attention that it was under their administration with the help of the UDP and the “National Bi-Partisan Commission that drafted, explained and presented “The Maritime Areas Bill” to Parliament which became law as the “Maritime Areas Act” in 1991. The publisher of your newspaper, Mr. Evan Hyde, had said in one of his articles that this Act is very complex and requires a “legal” mind to interpret and analyze. While this may be true, how can we not understand the simple language that our Constitution is “Supreme Law”?
The National Bi-Partisan Commission, which included PUP, UDP and others, endorsed the following, which forms part of the Maritime Areas Act:
3 (a) – For the avoidance of doubt, it is hereby declared that the purpose of the limitation of the territorial sea from the mouth of Sarstoon River to Ranguana Caye as described in sub-section (2) above is to provide a framework for the negotiation of a definitive agreement on territorial differences with Guatemala.
3 (b) – Any such agreement as is referred to in (a) above shall be put to a referendum by the electors for their approval or otherwise, and if approved by a majority vote, shall form the basis for the final delimitation of the territorial sea in the area of the sea from the mouth of Sarstoon River to Ranguana Caye.
My fellow Belizeans, our Constitution in Schedule 1 – defines the make-up of our territorial sea which includes the Ranguana Range of Cayes and the Sapodilla Range of Cayes. However, It behoves me to understand, how our government with the help of the Opposition and others, got away with drafting, explaining, presenting and passing the Maritime Areas Act in 1991 without the holding of a referendum for the electorate to approve or disapprove?
The Schedule with the makeup of our territorial sea in the Maritime Areas Act – DOES NOT HAVE the Ranguana or Sapodilla Range of Cayes.
What is worse is that Section 25 of the Act “supercedes” our Constitution with the following: “The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any other law, rule or regulation.” We do not need a legal mind to interpret this for us. It is plain and simple English that what is in this Act, comes before what is in the Constitution.
Much of what has happened and is happening, has been an appeasement to Guatemala. To me, the National Bi-Partisan Commission were confused when they made the following statement in their explanation to the Belizean public: “Guatemala needed time to adjust to the fact that it had lost Belize.”
Like Guatemala, the Organization of American States (OAS) is a farce. They speak from two sides of their mouth. Compare the OAS failed position today as against what they did and said in November of 1980. Remarkably, Belize had gotten the OAS, over the strong objection of Guatemala, to pass a Resolution in 1980 which called for Belize’s “secure independence and territorial integrity.”
I say “NO” to the ICJ. Our Ministry of Foreign Affairs on page 11 of a document not made public, in 2008, the same year that the disrespected ”Compromis” was signed in Washington, D.C., stated: “ As in any court of law there are “NO GUARANTEES”. No matter how strong a case may be, the judges are after all, human beings, from different countries, with different interests.” Also on page 9 of this said document it says: “Rulings of the court are by majority decision and are binding”. If all of the foregoing is possible, why risk our “patrimony” by agreeing with Guatemala that there is a claim and only to be resolved by the ICJ?
From 1975, Resolutions in six (6) successive General Assemblies of the United Nations, affirm the “inalienable right of the people of Belize to self-determination and independence” and supporting the inviolability and territorial integrity of Belize.”
In concluding, I would like to remind Belizeans that the 1859 Treaty Convention which Guatemala and Great Britain signed spoke of boundary (border) with absolutely no mention to any claim by Guatemala. I would like to recommend that we do NOT go to the ICJ, but instead to address the United Nations General Assembly with a Resolution to have Guatemala respect the resolution of November 1980 by the OAS and the six (6) Resolutions passed by the General Assembly from 1975-1980.
I recommend further, that instead of going to the ICJ, that we direct our matter directly to the Super Body of the United Nations Security Council. Under the Security Council Charter it states that all members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council.
While other organs of the United Nations, like the ICJ, make recommendations to governments, the Council alone has “the power” to take decisions which member states are “obligated” under the charter to carry out. Guatemala’s Foreign Minister on Thursday, 6th November, 1975 stated: “The United Nations is not competent to decide on Guatemala’s claim to Belize.” If the United Nation is not competent, so is its arm – the ICJ.
Adolphus A. Rosales