BELIZE CITY, Wed. May 15, 2019– Taking a case to the International Court of Justice is a very expensive proposition.
A report in the Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre says that Guatemala will spend more than Q100 million (over $26 million BZ) for settling the territorial dispute with Belize at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) during the first 5 years, according to diplomatic sources, the paper said.
The ICJ process could take between 5 to 10 years, Prensa Libre quoted the Guatemalan Ministry of Foreign Affairs sources as saying.
Francisco Mauricio Martínez, the author of the article, said that in 1991 Guatemala recognized the independence of Belize, “but claims several islands, keys and 12,272 square kilometers.”
Quoting the same diplomatic sources, Martinez said that the Guatemalan government hopes that this week, Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow will accept a proposal made by President Jimmy Morales to present the notification that both countries are willing to resolve the dispute at the ICJ.
“The response of the Belizean government, according to the same source, ‘could happen at any time,’ after Morales last Thursday congratulated that country for the triumph of ‘yes’ in the referendum held last Wednesday and took the opportunity to raise the said proposal to Barrow,” the Prensa Libre article said.
Guatemala has assembled a team of professionals which is made up of lawyers at the levels of directors, advisors and supporters who reside abroad.
In Guatemala, a team of 20 specialists make up what is known as the “Domain Sovereignty Unit.” The unit has the support of the Guatemalan Foreign Minister, Sandra Jovel, Prensa Libre said.
The Domain Sovereignty Unit is made up of specialists in Legal Sciences, History and Archives, and will be responsible for supporting the respective documentation at the ICJ.
President Jimmy Morales will send the proposal to Belize to notify them about the ICJ consultations.
“To document the case, we will have the file of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Archive of the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs of the Central American General Archive, which contains 127 linear meters of material with information,” said Morales, according to Prensa Libre.
“In addition, according to the same Minex source, it will be requested that a governmental agreement be approved through which an Inter-institutional Commission is created so that all the ministries contribute their support to the Domain Sovereignty Unit.
“Currently a team of hydrographers from the Directorate of Limits and Waters of the Ministry of Defense, as well as cartographers from the National Geographic Institute, are working on the definition of the inventory of islands that exist – historically, it has been said that they are 127 — to pose the claim,” Prensa Libre reported.