Media Center

Press Release


  February 25, 2009

With the participation of the Members States and Permanent Observers representatives of the Organization of American States (OAS), the meeting of the Group of Friends of Belize and Guatemala took place, to review recent events, and the work of the OAS General Secretariat Office in the Adjacency Zone.

At the beginning of the meeting, OAS Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, referred to the Agreement signed on December 8, 2009, by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Belize and Guatemala, in which they agreed to submit Guatemala’s territorial, insular, and maritime claim to the International Court of Justice. Insulza labeled this agreement as a “historic landmark”, and affirmed that “while the political and judicial process for the eventual arbitrage moves forward, it is necessary and convenient to keep the validity of the confidence building measures.”

Raul Lago, Special Representative of the Secretary General for the Negotiation Process between Belize and Guatemala, presented the report of the activities carried out by the OAS Office during 2008, putting special emphasis on the support brought for the verification of the removal process of a container located between the regions of Santa Cruz (Guatemala) and Jalacte (Belize). In his presentation, Mr. Lago affirmed that “this specific case demonstrates the latent risk that persists in the region. Beyond the goodwill and positive attitude expressed at all times by both governments, it is still difficult to manage the situation without the presence of the OAS.”

The Permanent Representative of Guatemala to the OAS, Ambassador Jorge Skinner-Klee referred to the OAS role in the Adjacent Zone as “irreplaceable” and asserted that, without its mediation, it would have been even more difficult to arrive at the special agreement adopted last December. Skinner-Klee pointed out some of the practical considerations the agreement implies, emphasizing on the high financial costs involved. “This is the only option we have right now and it does not allow a conventional cost-benefit analysis. The price of not solving the territorial differendum implies a serious threat to the good relationships of both countries as well as for the shared future that awaits us.”

On the other hand, the Permanent Representative of Belize to the OAS, Ambassador Néstor Méndez, noted the remarkable job of the OAS Mission in the Adjacency Zone, highlighting the need to maintain it until the countries reach a final agreement. The diplomat explained how, after the signing of the Agreement with Guatemala, the Government of Belize has initiated a campaign to inform its citizens about the implications of bringing the case to the International Court of Justice; what it is about, what it means, and the consequences of the Court’s decision.

Meeting participants agreed that bringing the diferendum to the International Court of Justice entails high legal and financial costs. They also stressed the importance of keeping the OAS’ presence in the Adjacency Zone, so that it can continue serving as an independent interlocutor and as a neutral and reliable institution.

After the meeting, during the Permanent Council’s ordinary session, OAS Secretary General Insulza presented the first annual report of the OAS Peace Fund. This Fund has implemented a series of activities primarily focused on accompanying the dialogue process between Guatemala and Belize. Insulza announced the creation of a sub-fund to support both countries in the elaboration and preparation of legal material needed for the arbitrage process and reiterated the value of continually engaging the participation of other Member States and Permanent observers in the process, through financial support, that will also allow the OAS to continue offering its experience and mediation.

“The Peace Fund is a great experience, that we hope to extend to all the countries that today have any pending border issues to solve and that, in common agreement, decide to use this Fund and the OAS services, to move forward” he concluded

Reference: E-058/09