Despite being close neighbours with deep personal friendships, few Australians know of the David and Goliath battle between Australia and Timor-Leste in the Timor Sea. Timor-Leste seek to mark maritime boundaries with Australia based on the equidistant approach (median line) completing as they say, their sovereignty. Australia withdrew from the judicial umpires on the dawn of Timor-Leste’s independence (2002), for the specific purpose of marking maritime boundaries.
This seminar will map the carve up of the Timor Sea starting with Australia’s stated 1953 continental shelf position, to their unilateral granting of exploration licences in 1962, 1963, the continued carve up of the Timor Sea with Indonesia, culminating in the 1989 Timor Gap Treaty based on Indonesia’s illegal occupation of Timor-Leste, to the more recent developments including the Timor Sea Treaty arbitration (arising from allegations of Australia spying) , the ICJ Case on seized documents and data, and the current UNCLOS Compulsory Conciliation. It will finish with the oft asked questions, “Why did Australia withdraw from judicial umpires,” and “Why doesn’t Australia agree to negotiate maritime boundaries with Timor-Leste when it has done so with the other five neighbours with whom it shares maritime sea?”