8 Steps to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) by Ismail Omar Shabazz

A Foreword by Bilal Morris

The expose featured in this Black History Month, gives a special sense of tribute and respect to one of Belize's best historians and thinker, the legendary Ismail Omar Shabazz. A former member of the United Black Association for Development (UBAD), Shabazz has remained an ardent Belizean nationalist and Muslim who has championed Belizeans causes for the last 50 years.

The founder of the Belize Rural Economic Development of Agriculture through Alliance (BREDAA), Shabazz has chronicled the best in Belizean history and is part of history himself. As an advocate for change in Belize and for the liberation of black people in Belize, Shabazz has garnered the respect from Belizean government officials both past and present.

The featured article, The Belize Guatemalan Dispute: 8 Steps To The ICJ, Shabazz has chronicled a series of important historical events that has led up the present crisis in the Belize/Guatemalan Dispute, and The Guatemalan Claim that students of history can use as a road map to learn how the problem began and why it is where it is now. He also presents a Pan-Africanist perspective in looking at the claim, and has tirelessly lobbied with civil society in Belize to a peaceful resolution to the claim's end.

A History of the Belize Guatemalan dispute: 8 Steps to the International Court of Justice

An Afterward by Rolando Cocom

The article by Shabbaz is an easy to read interpretive mapping of historical moments which shape the Belize - Guatemala territorial dispute. Despite the fact that electoral process on whether or not we should submit the territorial dispute to the International Court of Justice was called off last year, this question is still of vital importance. We can take this time to consider the issues involve. There are many perspectives on this issue and it is worthwhile to be familiar with the arguments. 

Additionally, by reading this short piece, one can gain an insight into the philosophical underpinnings of the United Black Association for Development (UBAD) and Belize Rural Economic Development of Agriculture through Alliance (BREDAA).

The article is positioned by a discourse of Black politics, Africanist (Afrocentric?), and democratic ideals. Black identity politics, as we know it, with the intent to re-cover or go back to the roots of our African heritage in Belize's national state context is distinctly from the 1960s (tied into the movement and ideological discourse of nationalism/representation). It brought the notion of Garifuna and Creole should be considered as African/Black and tends to be frame with the Other (usually the colonial white other; but also the Migrant/Hispanic Other in some circles).

We note this in several parts of the paper. For instance, we note this in the statement that our African ancestors have been in Belize “over 1000 years” ago along with the Mayas (this is contradicted by the subsequent statement which dates African presence to 1970). We also note that Shabbaz makes this reference with UBAD’s articulation of an Afro British Honduras in the 1960s (p. 2). These are areas that the reader can follow up on.

The quoted text from Shoman appears somewhat contradictory of Shoman’s and Shabbaz’s position. This is because the quoted text is not Shoman’s own word but that of a consultant to the Guatemala delegation. The consultant was saying that Guatemala has no case if the claim is taken to the International court of Justice. In the end, this leads to the position that in order to keep both countries safe, a legal resolution is our best option.  Certainly, it is an article with multiple values and timely for Black History Month. 


  1. It was important that you present this perspective being that it is not a popular position taken by Belizean progressive thinkers of today. Nevertheless, the late Ismail Shabazz was a firm believer that the Belize / Guatemalan Dispute should go to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) despite to the contrary of some from the very UBAD organization he came from who holds an opposing point of view.

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  3. I see no value in going to ICJ, Guatamala has no respect for the life of its citizens, it's national laws and international laws.


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