Aus, Timor-Leste sign maritime border treaty

Tanya SimonMar 09, 2018

The treaty was the result of the first-ever conciliation under the United Nations convention on the law of the sea, brought by Timor-Leste, angry at revelations Australian spies had allegedly bugged the offices of Timorese officials during previous negotiations.

The Timor-Leste and Australian governments have signed the new maritime boundary agreement whereby the border will be at a midway point between the two countries, meaning improved terms for Timor-Leste.

That same year, Australia and the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) negotiated the 2002 Timor Sea Treaty - a variant split 90-10 in favour of Timor, which applied to fields in the Joint Petroleum Development Area.

The dispute had prevented the development of the Greater Sunrise gas fields in the region, which are owned by a joint venture which includes Royal Dutch Shell PLC.

It will come into force once it has received parliamentary approval in both countries.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres witnessed the signing of the treaty, which was the first-ever reached under a special conciliation mechanism of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. "It was with enormous joy that I was present the day East Timor became an independent country", he said.

Timor-Leste's chief negotiator Xanana Gusmao said: "History is made today as Timor-Leste signs a treaty on permanent maritime boundaries that establishes, for the first time, a fair border between our two countries, based on global law". "This moment also provides hope for the peaceful resolution of disputes around the world".

Timorese minister Agio Pereira said his country was reluctant to be the test case in an unproven procedure.

"If foreign investors can see that Timor can manage successfully a complex industry downstream, building a platform, a pipeline and an energy plant, they will trust that we can do much more", said Hermenegildo Augusto Cabral Pereira, Timor-Leste's deputy minister of the prime minister for the delimitation of borders, as reported by AFP.

East Timorese Minister Agio Pereira said the deal was "equitable" and "consistent with global law".

Bishop said an worldwide rules-based order is fundamental to collective security and prosperity.

"Our treaty reflects the value and importance of those rules and institutions, and the benefits for states in abiding by those rules".

Pereira, calling the treaty "equatable, forward-looking", said it will institute certainty in worldwide investment and economic development for Timor Leste. In particular, our treaty reflects the importance of the United Nations convention on the law of the sea.

The exact amount of revenue will be between 70 and 80 per cent, depending on whether the resources are processed in East Timor or Australia.

It's also likely to increase East Timor's ownership of the more lucrative Greater Sunrise.

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