On 6 March 2018, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, Ms. Julie Bishop and Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister for the Delimitation of Borders of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, Mr. Hermenegildo Augusto Cabral Pereira, signed the Treaty Between the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste and Australia Establishing their Maritime Boundaries in the Timor Sea. The Treaty was signed at the United Nations Headquarters in the presence of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres.
A significant event, the signing of this new maritime boundaries treaty marks the successful conclusion of the first-ever recourse by States to conciliation proceedings under Annex V to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The Chair of the Conciliation Commission, Ambassador Peter Taksøe-Jensen, signed the Treaty as a witness.
The Comprehensive Package Agreement of 30 August 2017, which includes the new Treaty, puts an end to a decade-long maritime dispute between Timor-Leste and Australia. “By delimiting the maritime boundary between the two States in the Timor Sea, and by establishing a special regime for the area comprising the Greater Sunrise gas field, this Agreement puts these States in a better position to exercise their respective rights and obligations under UNCLOS in an effective manner” said the Secretary-General in his remarks at the signing ceremony. The Treaty, he noted, “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.”