Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Australia Should Come to the Table

Timor-Leste has launched compulsory conciliation proceedings under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), with the aim of concluding an agreement with Australia on permanent maritime boundaries.

UNCLOS provides an internationally accepted method for delimiting maritime boundaries which Timor-Leste is confident would place oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea within its territory.
However Timor-Leste can’t have an independent umpire decide a maritime border with Australia because in 2002 the then Foreign Minister Alexander Downer decided to pull Australia out of the compulsory jurisdiction of international courts and tribunals in relation to maritime boundary matters. This decision was made just two months before Timor-Leste achieved its independence.
Timor-Leste’s Prime Minister, Dr Rui Maria de Araujo said “establishing permanent maritime boundaries is a matter of national priority for Timor-Leste, as the final step in realising our sovereignty as an independent State.”

I agree with Timor-Leste’s Minister of State, Agio Pereira, who says this process is still worthwhile. The conciliation will lead to a report after 12 months. Both sides can appoint two members and have to agree on the chair of the conciliation. If Australia declines to participate, the UN will intervene to appoint experts.
East Timor and Indonesia have committed to formal talks on the boundary but Australia refuses to negotiate a permanent sea border. Australia should come to the table and participate in these proceedings in good faith.
Further reading: 

My speech on the Timor Sea Maritime Boundary given to Friends of Dili 15 March:

No comments:

Post a Comment