Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Belize and Guatemala Go to Court

You can view all ICJ articles on PolGeoNow for updates to this case.

Map: Where is Belize and where is Guatemala? Location in Central America.
Guatemala and Belize's location in Central America
(Wikimedia map by DO56, Rei-artur, and Vardion; CC BY-SA)
A PolGeoNow News Brief

Guatemala-Belize territorial dispute: Approximate map of what parts of Belize are claimed by Guatemala.
One interpretation of Guatemala's territorial claims. The precise lines of the dispute will be laid out as the court case continues. (Wikimedia map by Janitoalevic and Bettyreategui; CC BY-SA)
The Central American republic of Guatemala has claimed much of the land governed by neighboring Belize ever since the mid-1800s, at some times even claiming the whole country as Guatemalan territory. Now, the two neighbors have finally agreed to settle the dispute once and for all by taking it to the UN's International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The two countries officially registered their case with the court last month, after both countries' people voted in favor of the move in nationwide referendums. Of the 27% of Guatemalans who voted, 96% were in favor of going court. In Belize, voter turnout was 65%, of which 55% voted in favor.

Belize has vigorously denied Guatemala's claims for over a century, but in exchange for putting the issue to rest, it's agreed to let the court redraw its borders if the justices decide in favor of Guatemala. The two countries have also agreed to let the court draw the boundary between their respective territories and economic zones at sea.

What exactly does Guatemala claim today? It's actually not completely clear. By some interpretations, Belize's current area could be cut in half if the court sided with Guatemala. But the exact lines of Guatemala's claims should be clarified soon as both countries bring their official arguments to the court...

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