Sea boundaries treaty by Australia and Timor-Leste ‘example to follow’ – UN chief

6 March 2018

Australia and Timor-Leste on Tuesday signed a bilateral maritime boundaries treaty, which United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres hailed as a ground-breaking event that could inspire other countries to peacefully settle disputes through mediation.

The treaty establishing their maritime boundaries in the Timor Sea was signed at UN Headquarters in the presence of Mr. Guterres, putting an end to the decade-long dispute between the two sides and marking the first-ever successful recourse by States to conciliation proceedings under Annex V to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

“This ceremony demonstrates the strength of international law and the effectiveness of resolving disputes through peaceful means,” the UN chief said.

“A central element in the Charter of the United Nations, the peaceful settlement of disputes is also a cornerstone of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which both Australia and Timor-Leste are parties,” he added.

The Secretary-General said the agreement is “a further contribution to establishing legal certainty in the world’s oceans, an essential condition for stable relations, peace and security, and the achievement of sustainable development,” and puts both countries in a better position to exercise their respective rights and obligations under the Convention.  It should also ensure that both States fully benefit from the sustainable exploitation of natural resources in the Timor Sea. 

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