The Bishop of Belize has urged his country’s territorial dispute with Guatemala be referred to the International Court of Justice for mediation
The Bishop of Belize has urged his country’s territorial dispute with Guatemala be referred to the International Court of Justice for mediation. Last weekend Belize’s Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington met with Guatemalan Foreign Minister Carlos Raul Morales in Istanbul to attempt to resolve territorial claims that date from the Seventeenth Century. In the Godolphin Treaty of 1670, Spain confirmed England was to hold all territories in the Western Hemisphere that it had already settled. English and Scottish loggers and buccaneers settled in Belize beginning in 1638, but Britain did not establish a colonial government until 1863, prompting Spain, then Guatemala to lay claim to Belize. Guatemala continues to lay claim to all of Belize, but the current dispute centers along the border. On 20 April 2016 Belizean soldiers shot and killed a Guatemalan boy and wounded his father and brother — each country arguing the shootings took place on their national territory. “Both sides have agreed that notwithstanding those positions which neither side will relinquish, a mechanism must be found to guarantee peaceful use, stability, and navigational security at the Sarstoon River,” Belize’s foreign ministry said. On 20 May 2016 the Rt. Rev. Philip Wright, Anglican Bishop of Belize told local media following a meeting of the country’s Council of Churches a negotiated settlement was the best way forward. “We believe we should go to the ICJ and pursue the diplomatic course” and eschew violence.