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Belize to hand Counter-Memorial to ICJ in June

HighlightsBelize to hand Counter-Memorial to ICJ in June

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Jan. 24, 2022– Last week, while responding to local reporters’ questions at a press conference, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration, Hon. Eamon Courtenay, stated that the lawyer representing Belize at the International Court of Justice (which will in a few years issue a ruling on Guatemala’s Territorial, Insular and Maritime Claim (Guatemala/Belize) to Belizean territory) is in the process of preparing Belize’s Counter-Memorial, which will be filed on June 8 of this year, according to Hon. Courtenay. The ICJ had approved an extension to the filing of Guatemala’s memorial, following a request on April 8, 2020, from that nation. They cited the COVID-19 crisis as the reason for requesting the 12-month extension, to which the then Barrow administration had objected.

The court ultimately granted a 6-month extension to Guatemala, resulting in a December 2020 deadline, which they met when they officially filed their Memorial to the ICJ. As mentioned, it is now Belize’s turn to file its documents, and Hon. Courtenay says we’ll do so on time.

“We are preparing the documents, and we will file them on time. There is nothing more,” Hon. Courtenay said.

He reminded the media that Belize’s government has been ordered by their attorney, and is obliged by the rules of the court, to be tight-lipped as the process plays out. The parties from Belize, however, have already been notified of the contents of Guatemala’s claim, since, according to the 2008 Special Agreement, our Counter-Memorial is to be submitted after we have received the contents of Guatemala’s Memorial.

The government of Guatemala will have a chance to submit a Reply within 6 months after the submission of Belize’s Counter-Memorial, and Belize is to submit a Rejoinder within the 6-month period following that reply. The court may agree if they so choose, or if both parties agree, to authorize additional pleadings and extend the deadlines for such submissions upon the request of parties, as was done in response to Guatemala’s deadline-extension request.

“We are restricted from speaking on this issue by our own attorneys and by the rules of the ICJ, so we are working very diligently on preparing the Counter-Memorial.” Hon. Courtenay said.

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