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A contribution to peace.

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IN AN EPILOGUE to the intense negotiations that have taken place over the years, the governments of Belize and Guatemala recently signed an historic Special Agreement in the headquarters of the OAS. The countries have agreed to submit Guatemala's claims on territory, islands, and maritime rights to the International Court of Justice.

In a ceremony held in the Hall of Heroes on December 8, 2008, the foreign ministers of Belize and Guatemala, Wilfred Elrington and Roger Haroldo Rodas Melgar, signed a joint agreement with the Secretary General of the OAS, Jose Miguel Insulza.

Elrington and Rodas Melgar expressed "to the Organization of American States, and especially to the Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza, [their] highest recognition for the effective and sustained labor of mediating and monitoring the process of negotiation between the two governments," and emphasized "the valuable support of the Group of Friends for their commitment, cooperation, and assistance throughout the process."

Article 7 of the Special Agreement establishes that both sides commit to undertaking the necessary procedures in their respective internal systems in order to submit to popular referendum the decision to ask the International Court of Justice to resolve the controversy over territory. The referendums will occur at the same time in both countries on a date that both parties agree to.

Once the dispute is submitted to the consideration of the International Court of Justice, the "parties will accept the ruling of the Court as definitive and mandatory and commit to abide by it and to implement it fully and in good faith. In particular, the parties agree that, within three months after the date of the Court's ruling, they will agree upon the composition and terms of reference for a Bi-national Commission that will proceed to demarcate the borders according to the decision of the Court."

The Secretary General congratulated Guatemala and Belize "for this brilliant agreement reached," and thanked all those who, "in one way or another contributed to this happy result."

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Publication:Americas (English Edition)
Geographic Code:0OAS
Date:Mar 1, 2009
Words:330
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