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Foreign relations of Belize

Belize's principal external concern has been the dispute involving the Guatemalan claim to Belizean territory. This dispute originated in imperial Spain's claim to all "New World" territories west of the line established in the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494. 19th century efforts to resolve the problems led to later differences over interpretation and implementation of an 1859 British-Guatemalan treaty intended to establish the boundaries between Guatemala and Belize, then named British Honduras. Guatemala contends that the 1859 treaty is void because the British failed to comply with all of its economic assistance clauses. Neither Spain nor Guatemala ever exercised effective sovereignty over the area.

Negotiations proceeded for many years, including one period in the 1960s in which the U.S. Government sought unsuccessfully to mediate. A 1981 trilateral (Belize, Guatemala, and the United Kingdom) "Heads of Government Agreement" was not implemented due to disagreements. Thus, Belize became independent on September 21, 1981, with the territorial dispute unresolved. Significant negotiations between Belize and Guatemala, with the United Kingdom as an observer, resumed in 1988. Guatemala recognized Belize's independence in 1991 and diplomatic relations were established. Negotiations between Belize and Guatemala resumed on February 25, 2000, in Miami, Florida, but were suspended due to a border incident that occurred February 24, 2000. Further talks were held March 14, 2000, between the two countries at the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, DC, in the presence of the OAS Secretary General. Eventually the two parties agreed to establish an "adjacency zone" extending one kilometer on either side of the 1859 treaty line, now designated the "adjacency line," and to continue negotiations aimed at resolving their dispute. The Guatemalan claim remains unresolved, however.

In order to strengthen its potential for economic and political development Belize has sought to build closer ties with the Spanish-speaking countries of Central America to complement its historical ties to the English-speaking Caribbean states. Recent foreign policy initiatives include joining with the other Central American countries in signing the CONCAUSA Agreement on regional sustainable development and becoming a full member of the Central American Integration System[?] (SICA) Belize is a member of CARICOM which was founded in 1973. In 1990, it became a member of the Organization of American States. As a member of CARICOM Belize strongly backed efforts by the United States to implement UN Security Council Resolution 940 designed to facilitate the departure of Haiti's de facto authorities from power. The country agreed to contribute military personnel to the Multinational Task Force which restored the democratically elected Government of Haiti in October 1994 and to the United Nations Mission in Haiti[?] (UNMIH).

Disputes - international: territory in Belize claimed by Guatemala; precise alignment of boundary in dispute

Illicit drugs: transshipment point for cocaine; small-scale illicit producer of cannabis for the international drug trade; minor money-laundering center

Reference Much of the material in this article comes from the CIA World Factbook 2000 and the 2003 U.S. Department of State website.

See also : Belize

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