Belize files Memorial at the ICJ against Honduras over the Sapodilla Cayes

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023

Belize has delivered its Memorial (documents) concerning sovereignty over the southern Sapodilla Cayes from Honduras. The Government of Belize announced this intention in October 2022 and has formally submitted documents to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Honduras has maintained a claim to the Sapodilla Cayes, as noted in its constitution since 1982.
The Memorial from Belize was submitted on Tuesday, May 2nd, to the Deputy Registrar at the ICJ, Jean-Pele Fomete, in The Hague, Netherlands. As per the court order, Honduras must submit its Counter-Memorial by December 4, 2023. According to an official note from GOB, Belize’s Memorial vigorously defends the country’s sovereignty over the Sapodilla Cayes. The request is for the ICJ to adjudge and declare that, as between Belize and Honduras, Belize is sovereign over the Sapodilla Cayes and that Honduras has no valid claim over these southern islands off the Belize coast.
This Caye range is also claimed by Guatemala, which claims more than half of the Belizean territory. The Guatemalan claim on Belize has been submitted to the ICJ and is nearing its oral hearings. Both countries have submitted the required documentation (Memorials) supporting their arguments. In December 2022, Guatemala submitted its last reply to Belize’s Memorials. Belize will submit another reply, the ‘rejoinder,’ on June 8, 2023. After these written pleadings, there will be oral hearings at the ICJ.
In this process, the legal teams of both countries will make their presentations at the ICJ courtroom in The Hague. They will emphasize before the 15 judges why the disputed territory rightfully belongs to either of the parties. When ICJ makes its decision, which may take another couple of years, it will be final and binding, and both countries must comply with and implement the judgment in full and in good faith. Belize’s legal team and government have stated the need to settle the dispute with Guatemala. The neighboring country does not recognize any borders with Belize and has actively campaigned to claim Belize with the primary justification that when the Spanish Empire fell, they inherited what today is Belize from Spain.


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