IPLP Outreach

Maya Communities of Southern Belize

On June 28, 2010 the Supreme Court of Belize rendered a judgment in favor of the Maya communities of southern Belize. IPLP Program staff attorneys Maia Campbell and Seanna Howard coordinated a team of lawyers and students to assist Maya communities file and litigate a class action lawsuit that resulted in the affirmation of their traditional land rights. The recent judgment follows a ruling handed down by the Supreme Court of Belize in 2007 in favor of the two Maya communities of Santa Cruz and Conejo. That decision, also achieved with the IPLP Progam's assistance, recognized the rights the rights of these two communities to occupation and use of their lands, and was the first judicial decision to rely on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which had been passed just weeks before. Maya leaders and the IPLP Program sought to have the decision apply to all 38 Maya villages in Southern Belize, and eventually filed a second lawsuit to do so. Case 366, as it became known, should set the way for the administrative mechanisms to legally secure the land rights of all Maya villages. Download a PDF for more background information on this case.

To access Documents, Media Coverage, or Multimedia resources related to this case, click on the appropriate label below and the window will expand.

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Documents (PDFs)

Belize Supreme Court Documents:

Judgments of the Supreme Court Brief to the Supreme Court and Appendices Claim forms Affidavits submitted by Maya villagers and leaders Expert and Other Affidavits Documents submitted by the Government of Belize Other

Inter-American Commission Documents:

UN Documents:

Special Rapporteur

Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination



Channel 5 Belize

Belize Channel 7 Daily News

Related Links:

Press Releases:

Media Coverage


  • S. James Anaya, Maya Aboriginal Land and Resource Rights and the Conflict Over Logging in Southern Belize, 1 Yale Hum. Rts. & Dev. L.J. 17 (1998) (article based on expert report submitted to Belize Supreme Court).
  • S. James Anaya, The Maya Petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights: Indigenous Land and Resource Rights, and the Conflict over Logging and Oil in Southern Belize, in GIVING MEANING TO ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS 180 (Isfahan Merali & Valerie Oosterveld eds., Univ. Penn. Press 2001).
  • S. James Anaya, Reparations for Neglect of Indigenous Land Rights at the Intersection of Domestic and International Law - The Maya Cases in the Supreme Court of Belize ( in Reparations to Indigenous Peoples, Oxford University Press, Forthcoming).