Maya Communities of Southern Belize


Photo courtesy of Maya Leaders Alliance

Under the guidance of IPLP faculty and staff, students worked on groundbreaking cases representing Maya communities in Belize before international and domestic legal forums. The IPLP Program and clinics helped coordinate the work of a team of lawyers and researchers to assist the Maya communities of southern Belize to secure and effectively exercise their rights over their traditional lands and natural resources.

The advocacy efforts led by IPLP faculty and students have resulted in precedent-setting decisions affirming Maya land rights. In April 2015, the Caribbean Court of Justice affirmed the existence of Maya customary land tenure, requiring the government to identify and protect Maya lands in accordance with customary tenure and to abstain from interfering or allowing third party interference with Maya land rights. Later in October 2015, the court ordered the government of Belize to establish a fund of $150,375 (USD) to implement the court’s order.

In anticipation of the government’s compliance with the order, IPLP staff attorneys worked with the Maya Leaders Alliance in Belize to provide technical assistance to strengthen the current governance structure and to develop culturally appropriate resource management and land registration protocols. The IPLP Program engaged the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to exert pressure on the government to comply with the court order.

In order to promote our mission to protect and promote Indigenous peoples’ human rights, IPLP provides case archives of our advocacy projects to assist legal practitioners and advocates.
Here are resources related to our advocacy work to protect and promote the human rights of the Maya communities of Southern Belize.

Belize Supreme Court Documents

Judgments of the Supreme Court





Brief to the Supreme Court and Appendices




Claim Forms





Inter-American Commission Documents







UN Documents

Special Rapporteur





Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD)