Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland has met with government officials and is due to meet Prime Minister Dean Barrow during a four-day visit to Belize.
The Secretary-General is expected to discuss the implementation of mandates agreed at the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). This includes boosting trade and innovation, protecting the ocean and implementing the revised guidelines for Commonwealth election observation.
Secretary-General Scotland will also discuss Guatemala’s territorial, insular and maritime claims on Belize’s territory. At the April 2018 CHOGM, leaders reiterated the Commonwealth’s full support for the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
She said, “This visit gives us the opportunity to really look at how we tailor the 2018 CHOGM agenda to the specific needs of Belize. It also allows us to reassure its people that the Commonwealth is standing solidly behind them in the longstanding territorial dispute.”
Yesterday the Secretary-General met a range of stakeholders to get an insight into the country’s preparation for the scheduled 2019 referendum, when Belizean voters will decide whether to take the matter to the International Court of Justice, so that a final and binding determination could be made. She also had meetings with Governor General, Sir Colville Young, Foreign Affairs Minister, Wilfred Elrington, Chief Elections Officer, Josephine Tamai, the Referendum Commission and civil society.
The Secretary-General was clear that the referendum is entirely a matter for the Belize electorate. She stressed that the Commonwealth stands ready to offer technical assistance, if requested by Belize.