By Assad Shoman (auth.)
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Additional resources for Belize’s Independence and Decolonization in Latin America: Guatemala, Britain, and the UN
91 How Belize argued its case for the primacy of selfdetermination is described in Chapter 5. Internationalization The Belizean people’s march toward independence was blocked in the 1960s by the Guatemalan threat to use force to satisfy its territorial claim. Britain sought to settle the dispute by negotiation, but at the expense of the sovereignty or territory of Belize, whose people were not prepared to accept this. In theory, they had no standing in traditional international law; sovereignty of the territory lay in the UK, not in Belize.
Government was right in pointing out that the resolution did not leave Guatemala with anything to negotiate. Furthermore, Britain was constrained to conduct the negotiations “in close consultation with the government of Belize,” which effectively made Belize, hitherto a nonparty, a party to negotiations whose results were predetermined not by the parties but by the GA of the UN. The negotiations thenceforth undertaken with Guatemala, therefore, had a surreal aura, with Britain trying to give them meaning by proposing real concessions and Belize stubbornly adhering to the UN resolutions that effectively outlawed such concessions.
In effect, a nonstate actor faced off against three powerful state actors and had greater success in shaping the outcome than any of them. It may well be that Belize was the first, and remains the only, country to use this strategy successfully to gain its independence recognized by the entire world community. Chapter 2 The Guatemalan Claim and Decolonization T he territory that became known as Belize was an undifferentiated part of the Caribbean coast of Central America that was considered subject to Spanish sovereignty, by virtue of the Papal Bull of 1493.
Belize’s Independence and Decolonization in Latin America: Guatemala, Britain, and the UN by Assad Shoman (auth.)