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General Information
Border and territorial disputes present a serious risk to hemispheric security and have been for too long a contentious and unnecessary barrier to economic and social development in the Western Hemisphere. They regularly frustrate international cooperation on trade, environment protection, security, and law enforcement, are a drain on budgets and resources, and occasionally lead to armed conflict.

In June 2000, recognizing the need to strengthen the Organization’s capacity in peace-building and conflict resolution, the OAS Foreign Ministers, meeting at the General Assembly in Windsor, Canada, adopted Resolution 1756 (XXX-O/00) and formally established The Fund for Peace: Peaceful Settlement of Territorial Disputes.

The Peace Fund, as it is most commonly known, consists of a mechanism designed to provide financial resources to OAS Member States that so request in order to enable the Organization to react swiftly to an unforeseen crisis resulting from a territorial dispute, as well as to strengthen the General Secretariat’s knowledge and experience in the field of territorial dispute settlements. The Fund consists of a General Fund, which functions like a seed fund for unanticipated conflicts, and subfunds established for specific disputes. It is open to contributions from OAS Member States, Permanent Observers, other states, as well as other entities, including companies and individuals. The Fund has received contributions ranging from 3,000 to 1 million US dollars, and since its inception, has received over 5 million dollars.

The Peace Fund, however, is more than a simple financing tool. By jointly appealing to the OAS for assistance in peacefully resolving a territorial dispute, the Parties can avail themselves of a range of conflict resolution mechanisms contemplated under the OAS Charter, including direct negotiation, good offices, mediation, investigation and conciliation, judicial settlement, arbitration and any other mechanism which the Parties jointly agree.

The Parties can also access the technical expertise of the OAS in territorial dispute resolution, including expertise in diplomacy; international law, including the Law of the Sea; geographic, cartographic and geospatial expertise, through the membership of the Pan-American Institute of History and Geography; and a range of outside technical experts with whom the OAS General Secretariat maintains relationships.

Recently, at the OAS General Assembly in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, the Foreign Ministers of the Americas adopted Resolution AG/RES.2525 “Fund for Peace: Peaceful Settlement of Territorial Disputes” to acknowledge both the work of the Peace Fund and the Inter-American Peace Forum and in an effort to encourage OAS Member States, Permanent Observers, and other potential donors to continue to support the fund financially in view of its effectiveness in peacefully resolving conflicts.
The first dispute that the Peace Fund addressed was a maritime boundary dispute between Honduras and Nicaragua. In March 2001, Honduras and Nicaragua signed a Technical Verification Agreement establishing various confidence-building measures to ease tensions between these two countries, which were the result of a maritime dispute in the Caribbean Sea. At the same time, the Fund for Peace supported the Diagnostic Assessment, Protection, and Development of the Río Negro Basin project in the border area. On October 8, 2007 the International Court of Justice delivered a final judgment in this case putting an end to this dispute.

The second case that the Fund for Peace addressed was the completion of the demarcation of the border between El Salvador and Honduras. Between July 2003 and August 2004, at the request of the governments of El Salvador and Honduras, the OAS General Secretariat and the Pan American Institute of Geography and History helped to resolve a series of technical problems that had prevented full demarcation of the international border between the two countries pursuant to the judgment of the International Court of Justice of 1992 and the General Peace Treaty signed by the two countries in 1980.

The third and currently active case that the OAS has addressed is the Belize-Guatemala territorial dispute. The OAS provides technical and political assistance with regard to the differendum between Belize and Guatemala by facilitating the negotiations taking place under the “Agreement to Establish a Transition Process and Confidence Building Measures between Belize and Guatemala” of February 7, 2003 and the “Agreement on a Framework for Negotiations and Confidence Building Measures between Belize and Guatemala” of September 7, 2005. Likewise, on December 8, 2008, the Foreign Ministers of Belize and Guatemala signed the “Special Agreement to Submit Guatemala’s Territorial, Insular and Maritime Dispute to the International Court of Justice.” At present, both countries are taking the necessary steps required by their internal systems to submit to referendum the decision of taking this case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
Fund for Peace:
Peaceful Settlement of Territorial Disputes
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Belize and Guatemala

Honduras and Nicaragua

El Salvador and Honduras
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Peace Fund
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