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Australia’s maritime arrangements with Timor-Leste

This map shows the location of the maritime boundary established by the Treaty Between Australia and the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste Establishing Their Maritime Boundaries in the Timor Sea (the Maritime Boundary Treaty). The treaty was signed by Australia and Timor-Leste on 6 March 2018 in New York. It was brought into force by an exchange of notes between the countries’ Prime Ministers in Dili on 30 August 2019.

The Maritime Boundary Treaty is an historic agreement for Australia and Timor-Leste: it settled a long-running dispute, delimited our maritime boundaries, and laid the foundation for a new chapter in the relationship between the two countries.

Supporting the international rules-based order and UNCLOS

The conciliation that led to the Maritime Boundary Treaty, under UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) dispute resolution procedures, was the first of its kind. As two democratic nations and close neighbours, Australia and Timor-Leste’s success through the conciliation sets a positive example for the region and the international community.

The Maritime Boundary Treaty is a testament to the way in which international law, in particular UNCLOS, reinforces stability and allows countries to resolve disputes peacefully without coercion. It is an example of the rules-based order in action.

With the world's third largest maritime Exclusive Economic Zone, Australia knows how important these rules and norms are. That is why we steadfastly supported the dispute settlement processes in UNCLOS – regardless of the outcome. UNCLOS has underpinned stability and security in our region and around the world. In turn, this has allowed for the growth of trade and sustainable development.

The benefits of the Maritime Boundary Treaty

  • establishes permanent maritime boundaries between Australia and Timor-Leste in the Timor Sea and a stable legal framework for resource development, providing certainty and stability for businesses and investors
  • upholds Australia's commitment to international rules and reinforces peaceful dispute resolution norms, especially through UNCLOS
  • provides for both countries to develop the Greater Sunrise gas fields together and share in the benefits. This recognises both Australia and Timor-Leste have legitimate sovereign rights as coastal states under UNCLOS
  • supports Timor-Leste's economic development by providing new opportunities for income and commercial and industrial development; seventy or eighty per cent of revenue from Greater Sunrise will flow to Timor-Leste, depending on where the resource is developed
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