Press Office
Millennium Declaration Signed
12 January, 2001 - Belmopan
Maya People of Southern Belize
Millennium Declaration

The Maya Leaders of Southern Belize, on behalf of the Maya Mopan and
Maya Q'eqchi' Peoples of Toledo, Belize
Recognizing that, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations,
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International
Covenant of on Civil and Political Rights, the inherent dignity and
equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family are the
foundation of freedoms, justice and peace in the world;
Affirming that, in accordance with the United Nations Draft Declaration
on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, indigenous peoples are equal in
dignity and rights to all other peoples;

Call upon the State of Guatemala to recognize the border between Belize
and Guatemala as agreed to in the Treaty of 1859 by Britain and
Guatemala so as to foster peace and stable, productive and cooperative
relations between the citizens of the State of Belize and the State of
Guatemala and between the indigenous Maya Q'eqchi' and Maya Mopan on
both sides of the border; and further
Declare as follows:

1. We are descendants of Maya peoples who inhabit these and neighbouring
lands for centuries before the Europeans came, and we have rights to
some of these lands, which we now share with others who came, whether
voluntarily or brought by force for their labour.

2. The large areas of land occupied by our ancestors were colonized by
two different European powers, and at the end of direct rule by the
European countries these lands, and the Maya peoples still inhabiting
them, passed under the sovereignty of different modern States. Although
we are now citizens of these different States, the Maya peoples of
Belize recognize our shared ancestry with these Maya.

3. We Maya Peoples of Belize are indigenous peoples and Belizeans. As
indigenous peoples, we have rights to our traditional lands, to our
traditional culture and other rights recognized by international law.
As Belizeans, we are integral and full members of the nation of Belize
and we declare our full and unequivocal allegiance to the State of

4. We live today within the different jurisdictions of these distinct
sovereign States, and we accept this as a reality and regard these
States according to the different realities that our peoples have
experienced and continue to experience in relation to them.

5. On 12 October 2000, we signed an Agreement with the State of Belize
creating a partnership for the development of Maya communities and by
which the Government of Belize recognized that the Maya People have
rights to lands and resources in southern Belize based on their
long-standing use and occupancy. Although this Agreement has not yet
been implemented, the Maya Leaders acknowledge that they are working
with the State to establish and institute a legal mechanism under
domestic law that will result in specific guarantees for Maya customary
land and resource use and for the demarcation of our traditional lands.

6. By the same Agreement, the State of Belize agreed to resolve other
issues of concern to us, including the protection of Maya cultural
practices and of Maya participation in the management of the Maya
cultural heritage, the sustainable development of natural resources
within the Maya traditional land use areas, the distribution of benefits
to the Maya communities, and the reform of community governance

7. We acknowledge that we live within a democratic State with highly
developed democratic institutions, that we have full participation in
free and fair elections at the local and national level and that the
State is committed to the predominance of the rule of law. We have
petitioned the Organization of American States to assist us in our
efforts to ensure that our rights as indigenous peoples are fully
protected in the laws and constitution of Belize; but we acknowledge
that the State of Belize has expressed its commitment to ensuring that
our human rights are fully protected, as evidenced by the Agreement
signed with us on 12 October 2000, and as will be further evidenced by
the implementation of that Agreement.

8. We have become aware that certain elements in the neighbouring State
of Guatemala have attempted to use our Maya Communities in their
unfounded and unjust claim to territory belonging to our State of
Belize, pretending to be concerned for the welfare of Maya communities
living in Belize. We categorically disassociate from those maneuvers.
We do not seek, we do not welcome, and indeed, we emphatically reject,
and such offer of assistance from the State of Guatemala.

9. The Maya Peoples of Belize for themselves consider and affirm that
the borders between our State of Belize and the neighbouring State of
Guatemala are those which were agreed to by Treaty in 1859 by Britain
and Guatemala, and we pledge our full and unconditional support to the
State of Belize in preserving the integrity of its territory and in
rejecting all attempts by the State of Guatemala to claim any part of
its territory or to encroach upon it.

10. We are aware that our Maya brothers and sisters in Guatemala have
not enjoyed the respect for their land rights and other human rights
that are required by international law, that they have suffered many
years of repression and terror, and that many of them have found refuge
among us in Belize. We call upon and offer our support to our Maya
brothers and sisters to fight for their dignity and their human rights,
and not to allow themselves to be used by elements in Guatemalan society
that seek to avoid giving them their land and other rights by
encouraging them to occupy lands in Belize. We further call upon the
State of Guatemala to uphold and implement the terms of the peace accord
signed on the 31st of march 1995, to guarantee the human rights and
dignity of the indigenous peoples of Guatemala.

11. We are aware of, and fully support, the efforts of the State of
Belize, with the full participation of both Government and Opposition,
to reach an amicable settlement with Guatemala through a process
involving a Panel of Facilitators and the Secretary General of the OAS
as Witness of Honour. We call on the Government of Belize to ensure
that in arriving at a settlement it maintain the territorial integrity
of our State and ensure its full sovereignty.

Signed by:
Toledo Alcalde's Association
Village Chairmen's Association
Q'eqchi' Council of Belize
Toledo Maya Women's Council
Toledo Maya Cultural Council