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By_the_might_of_truth - Journal of Belizean Studies.

By_the_might_of_truth - Journal of Belizean Studies.

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Published by Lisa Shoman

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Published by: Lisa Shoman on Feb 26, 2012
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02/26/2012

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BY THE MIGHT OF TRUTH : PROVOCATION FOR GOING TO THE ICJ
i
 
“The central goal of Belize’s foreign policy today was preordained even before the country’s
 birth into nationhood. That was so because of the Guatemalan claim to Belize inherited from
the British upon independence.” 
 
ii
 Belizeans are being asked to consider the option of dealing with the Guatemalan claim to Belizeby submitting the question to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). This opinion is focused onwhy we should answer YES in any referendum asking if we should submit the dispute to the ICJ.BUT WHAT IS IT?The International Court of Justice, (aka the World Court or the ICJ) is the principal juridicalorgan of the United Nations and sits at the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands. The role of the ICJ is to settle, in accordance with international law, those legal disputes submitted to it byStates as well as give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized UnitedNations organs and specialized UN agencies.The ICJ is composed of fifteen judges
iii
who are elected to nine year terms by the UN GeneralAssembly and the UN Security Council from a list of persons nominated by the national groupsin the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Judges may be re-elected for up to two further terms, and
 
elections take place every three years, with one-third of the judges retiring (and possibly standingfor re-election) each time, in order to ensure continuity within the court.Article 2 of the
Court‟s governing
Statute provides that all judges should be "elected regardlessof their nationality among persons of high moral character", who are either qualified for thehighest judicial office in their country of origin or are noted international law jurists. Judicialindependence is dealt with specifically in the Statute, and Judges of the ICJ are not able to holdany other post, nor act as counsel. In practice the Court
‟s Judges have interpreted these rules so
 as to allow them to be involved in outside arbitration and hold professional posts as long as thereis no conflict of interest. A judge can be dismissed only by a unanimous vote of other membersof the Court.ICJ Judges can deliver joint judgments or may give their own separate (and dissenting) opinions.Decisions and Advisory Opinions are by majority and, in the event of an equal division; thePresident's vote becomes decisive. The ICJ also allows for
ad hoc
judges to sit on contentiouscases before the Court. This allows any party to a contentious case to nominate a judge of itschoice if a judge of its nationality is not already on the bench.
 Ad hoc
judges participate fully inthe case and the deliberations, along with the permanent bench. This is said to be a confidence -building measure in order to encourage states to submit cases to the court, especially when they
do not already subscribe to the Court‟s compulsory jurisdiction
.
 
The ICJ may sit as a full panel, but it can also, by agreement with the Parties, be constituted witha smaller chamber of three to five judges. Parties may stipulate that the Chamber be composedonly of mutually acceptable judges .
iv
 Only UN member States which have become parties to the Statute of the Court, or which haveaccepted its jurisdiction under certain conditions, may be parties to contentious cases. Belize andGuatemala fall into the latter category, and so any referral would be via a special agreementwhich would sets out not only the actual agreement of the States parties to go to the ICJ, but alsothe scope of the reference
v
, the nature of the panel requested, and the modalities for procedure
vi
 Submission of a contentious matter to the ICJ via a special agreement occurs by explicit consentand is described as being the most effective basis for the Court's jurisdiction, because the partiesconcerned who participate in deciding what and how matters go to the court demonstrate therebya real desire for the dispute to be resolved by the Court and are consequently more disposed tocomply with the Court's judgment.
Article 94 of the Court‟s Statute establishes the duty of all UN members to comply with
decisions of the Court involving them. If either party fails "to perform the obligations incumbentupon it under a judgment rendered by the Court", the other party may bring the matter before theUN Security Council to make recommendations or to decide upon measures which should betaken if the Security Council deems such actions necessary. Judgments of the Court are said tobe binding, final and without appeal, and by signature of the UN Charter, member States of the

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