Timor-Leste tests the waters of UN law in maritime dispute with Australia (Channel News Asia, 23 April 2016)

Timor-Leste tests the waters of UN law in maritime dispute with Australia (Channel News Asia, 23 April 2016)

Amid the tension of other ongoing maritime disputes in the region, particularly over the South China Sea, Timor-Leste’s Foreign Minister Hernani Coelho told Channel News Asia that this test of international maritime law would set an interesting precedent. Timor-Leste in early April launched a compulsory conciliation process under the 1982 UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Its aim is to get Australia to the negotiating table in order to conclude an agreement on permanent maritime boundaries. The conciliation procedure can be used where one party in the dispute has withdrawn from UNCLOS’ compulsory dispute settlement procedures – as Australia did in 2002, two months before Timor-Leste’s independence. Australia has refused to accept that a binding settlement on sea boundaries should be decided by international tribunal.