Sat | Jan 19, 2019

New initiative to deal with border dispute

Published:Sunday | January 26, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Dean Barrow, prime minister of Belize.

Belize and Guatemala have signed an agreement aimed at strengthening bilateral relations between each other as they seek to end a border dispute going back several decades.

Belize Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington and his Guatemalan counterpart Fernando Carrera met on Friday in the presence of the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Jose Miguel Insulza.

At the end of the meeting, the two ministers signed the Roadmap for Strengthening Bilateral Relations in 2014 between Belize and Guatemala.

The accord identifies specific aspects of the Framework Agreement for Negotiations and Confidence Building Measures between the parties to promote peace, security and cooperation.

The agreement paves the way for revisiting the simultaneous referenda that was scheduled for October 6, 2013.

Last year, the Dean Barrow government said it remained hopeful of a referendum in 2014 after the Guatemala government appeared to be having difficulty with proceeding with the referendum in both countries on October 6 last year.

The country wants to go straight to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). It also did not want to put an end to the existing Special Agreement between them.

The referendum is in compliance with the special agreement between them to submit Guatemala's territorial, insular and maritime claim to the ICJ.

The Belizean-Guatemalan territorial dispute is an unresolved bi-national territorial dispute between the two Central American neighbours dating from 1940 when Guatemala claimed control of all of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.

CARICOM leaders have repeatedly "reaffirmed their unequivocal support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Belize".