Saturday, May 25, 2024
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International Court of Justice

ICJ to elect new judges: Oral hearings for the Belize-Guatemala territorial dispute expected in 2024

Elections for five new judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) are expected to occur in November 2023. The ICJ consists of 15 judges, with five members elected in intervals of three years. While this transition is ongoing, oral hearings before the ICJ are slated to resume until February 2024, when the newly elected judges officially take up tenure. The Belize-Guatemala territorial, insular, and maritime dispute case is awaiting its first oral hearing, expected in late spring or the summer of 2024.

Belize-Guatemala territorial dispute case moving to oral hearings at the ICJ

On Wednesday, June 7th, Belize delivered its last written response, called ‘Rejoinder’, to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the legal proceedings to settle Guatemala’s territorial, insular, and maritime claim over the Jewel. This ended the stage of written submissions, and the next step is for the court to set a date for the oral hearings. The stage of written submissions has lasted four years since the case was formally submitted to the ICJ in 2019. Since then, Belize and Guatemala have presented written presentations known as Memorials, defending their respective position in the long-standing territorial dispute.

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

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.

Guatemala submits second memorial to the ICJ regarding the territorial, insular, and maritime claim over Belize

Guatemala submitted its reply to Belize’s counter-memorial regarding the territorial, insular, and maritime claim to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The case from Guatemala against Belize is to be settled at the international court in the Netherlands, Europe. Now, Belize must submit another reply known as the ‘rejoinder’ on June 8, 2023.

Belize plans to take Honduras to the ICJ over the Sapodilla Caye region dispute

The territorial dispute between Belize and Guatemala may not be the only one Belizeans face. A claim to parts of Belize’s southern islands and waters may be brought up by Honduras. Therefore, the Government of Belize plans to take Honduras to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The area in dispute is the Sapodilla Caye range, located in the southernmost group of islands/cayes in Belize’s waters.

OAS Secretary General says Belize and Guatemala need to continue working together

The territorial claim on Belize by Guatemala is far from over as it waits for the International Court of Justice (ICJ) settlement. Along the border dividing both countries, the Organization of American States (OAS) has an office where they monitor activities in the area. OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro arrived in the country on Sunday, August 21st, for a two-day visit. Almagro urged Belize and Guatemala to continue working together and cooperate through the Confidence Building Measures agreed between both countries.

Belize submits its counter-memorial to the ICJ regarding the Guatemalan claim

On Friday, June 3rd, Prime Minister Honourable Dr. John Briceño announced the delivery of Belize’s counter-memorial to the Guatemalan claim on Belize to the Registrar of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, a city in the Netherlands in Europe. The next step requires Guatemala to submit its reply to Belize’s counter-memorial by December 2022. Belize will then have until June 2023 to submit another response known as a rejoinder. Afterward, the ICJ will set a date for the oral hearings.

Foreign Minister Holds Bilateral Meetings with Guatemala, Taiwan and the OAS Representative

On December 10, 2020, Hon. Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration, received copies of the Letters of Credence of the new Ambassador of the Republic of Guatemala to Belize, H.E. Erwin Rudy Archilla Falla.