In our international campaign and in negotiations, Belize insisted that the right of the people to independence was a separate issue from the negotiations to end the Guatemalan claim. We insisted that independence must be achieved by 1981 even if negotiations were not successful. If necessary, negotiations would continue after independence.
The negotiation failed, but Belize went on to independence, assisted in our security by the continued British military presence and by our membership in the United Nations.
On September 21, 1981, Belize became an independent nation. In every town and in many villages throughout the country, a midnight flag-raising ceremony was held. The new flag of Belize was raised to the strains of the Belizean anthem.
We have seen how, unlike most countries, Belize entered actively on the world stage while it was still a colony. Indeed, its entry on the world stage was a necessary and crucial part of the struggle for independence. But Belize could not be a full member of the international organizations while we were still a colony. Now that Belize is independent, it has all the rights of a sovereign state in the international arena.
On September 25, 1981, Belize was admitted as a member of the United Nations. On the same day it became a full member of the Non-Aligned Movement, after being a member with "special status" since 1976. On Independence Day Belize was also admitted to membership of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Today, Belize plays its full role as a member of the Organization of American States and other international social, political and economic organizations. As an independent state, Belize has gained the respect of most of the nations of the world, including Guatemala. Although the Guatemalan claim has not yet been completely resolved, Guatemala recognized Belize's independence in 1991, and the two countries have finally established full diplomatic relations.
Source: A History of Belize