Since the restoration of its independence in 2002, Timor-Leste's maritime boundaries with its neighbours have been undefined. Delimiting permanent maritime boundaries became a national priority.
Timor-Leste tried for many years to negotiate permanent maritime boundaries with Australia. However Australia withdrew from the binding dispute resolution procedures relating to maritime boundaries, and declined invitations to negotiate.
In April 2016, Timor-Leste initiated the world’s first compulsory conciliation under the United Nations Convention of the law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Through this process, Australia and Timor-Leste reached agreement on a permanent maritime boundary and the historic Maritime Boundary Treaty was signed, establishing for the first time, permanent maritime boundaries in the Timor Sea.
Timor-Leste has now turned its attention to the delimitation of maritime boundaries with Indonesia, and both countries have agreed to work towards a fair and equitable boundary based on international law.
Why does it matter? Securing maritime boundaries is a matter of sovereignty for the people of Timor-Leste. When permanent maritime boundaries are settled in accordance with International law, the people of Timor-Leste will achieve sovereign ownership and control of the maritime areas within those boundaries.