The Maritime Boundary Office was invited to attend the Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum (EAMF) workshop on 31 May – 2 June 2016 in Hanoi, Vietnam.Itwas a continuation of the first EAMF workshopwhich was held in August 2015 in Indonesia.
The theme of the workshop was “International Law and Best Practices in Maritime Boundary Delimitation and Provisional Arrangements of a Practical Nature”.
The panellists featured the world leading experts in the international law of the sea and analysed in great depth the United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) Articles 74(3) and 83(3) and recent developments related to the international law of the sea. In addition various case studies were scrutinized such as Timor Sea Treaties, Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and East Asian arrangements (Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan).
The event was co-hosted by the US Department of State and Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam in collaboration with the Centre for International Law, National University of Singapore and Australia, National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security, University of Wollongong.
On 19 May, 2016, the Timor-Leste Government presented the Dili International Conference: Maritime Boundaries and the Law of the Sea to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS). The Conference raised international awareness of the role of international tribunals and provided a forum for discussion on current and emerging maritime boundary issues.
Read presentations by:
Judge Vladirmir Golitsyn, President, International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea
H.E Dr.Rui Maria de Araújo, Prime Minister, Timor-Leste
H.E Minister Dionisio Babo Soares, Minister of State, Coordinator of State Administration Affairs and Justice, Timor-Leste
Ambassador Eddy Pratomo, Special Envoy of the Maritime Boundary Determination, Indonesia
Mr. I Made Andi Arsana, Lecturer in Geodetic and Geomatic Engineering, Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia
Ms. Jalila Abdul Jalil, Senior Researcher, Maritime Institute of Malaysia
Dr. Hao Duy Phan, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for International Law, National University of Singapore
On 13 April Chief Negotiator Xanana Gusmão had a courtesy call with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E Mr. Ban Ki-moon in New York to discuss latest developments in Timor-Leste and inform the Secretary General on the compulsory conciliation notification.
Consultative Commission resumed the meeting on 11 April 2016 chaired by the Prime Minister Dr.Rui Maria de Araújo. The meeting was mainly to discuss the compulsory conciliation notification to the Australian Government relating to maritime boundaries.
On 29 December 2015, the Maritime Boundary Office was invited to present to the veterans in Aramerí, SukuLiurai, Aileu on the progress of the negotiations on the maritime boundaries with Australia and Indonesia.
This was an opportunity for the Maritime Boundary Office to explain the history of the Timor Sea agreements with Australia from 1972 until 2006.
Minister Xanana Gusmão, former President and Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, was awarded a Doctorate of Letters, honoris causa, from the University of Melbourne. Mr Gusmão, who is currently the Minister for Planning and Strategic Investment for Timor-Leste, spoke about a range of issues in his speech, noting that it was 40 years to the day that the occupation of Timor-Leste began.
Minister Gusmão also mentioned maritime boundaries:
Our shared commitment to negotiate maritime boundaries is a recent powerful example of where the path of reconciliation has taken us.
The Government of Timor-Leste has made the permanent delimitation of maritime boundaries a national priority as it is the final step in our long struggle for full sovereignty. Indonesia and Timor-Leste have commenced maritime boundary negotiations and have agreed to abide by the principles set out in the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and international law.
Australia, on the other hand, has refused to negotiate a maritime boundary with Timor-Leste and Timor-Leste cannot refer the issue to be determined by an independent umpire.
This is because in 2002, on the eve of Timor-Leste’s independence, Australia withdrew from the compulsory dispute mechanisms set up under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea for any disputes relating to the delimitation of its maritime zones.
And so I look to the new Australian Government to recognise it is in Australia’s national interest to have a clearly defined permanent maritime boundary in the Timor Sea.
Set against the backdrop of the National Resistance Museum, the Maritime Boundary Office (MBO) was invited to present to a large group of travelling students from Curtin University, Western Australia. We were also honoured that members of the Veterans community and representatives from the Prime Minister’s office also attended the presentation. Elizabeth Exposto (MBO CEO) gave a wide-reaching talk on the history of the Timor Sea disputes and where Timor-Leste is at regarding negotiations with Indonesia and attempts to engage with Australia. The students were clearly passionate about the issue and seemed to grow even more eager once the MBO explained, in plain terms, the history of the Timor Sea and why Timor-Leste is seeking maritime boundaries under international law.
From 30 November to 2 December 2015, the Maritime Boundary Office, together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, participated in the London International Boundary Conference with the theme “Exploring an Integrated Approach to International Boundary and Territorial Questions”.
The conference was held as a not-for-profit event and was hosted by Volterra Fietta, King’s College of London (Department of Geography), Marbdy Consulting Ltd and Maritime Zone Solutions Ltd.
The speakers were world leading experts and practitioners in the effective resolution of territorial disputes. Participants came from all over the world and from various professions, including law, academia and diplomacy. The event also included technical workshops.
In November 2015, the Maritime Boundary Office (MBO) was invited to present to the Organisation of the Combatants of the National Resistance (OCRN) at Venilale in Baucau Municipality. CEO of the MBO, Ms Elizabeth Exposto, and Communications and Outreach Officer, Ms Felismina Carvalho dos Reis, spoke at length about Timor-Leste’s pursuit of maritime boundaries and the relevant international law, including the Law of the Sea. The MBO would like to thank OCRN for the opportunity to inform their members about this important national priority.
On 1 October 2015, the Maritime Boundary Office and the International Peace Institute co-chaired a well-attended event with a distinguished panel of speakers including the Prime Minister Rui Maria de Araújo, Minister Xanana Gusmão and former President Dr José Ramos-Horta, each sharing their insights and emphasising that Timor-Leste’s objective to define permanent maritime boundaries with its neighbours is the next chapter in Timor-Leste’s struggle for sovereignty.
Click here for a copy of Prime Minister’s Rui Maria de Araújo speech
Click here for a copy of Minister Gusmão’s speech
Click here for a copy of Dr Ramos-Horta’s speech
Click here for IPI video
In September 2015, the Prime Minister gave powerful addresses about Timor-Leste’s pursuit of permanent maritime boundaries as a matter of national priority at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, and the World Leaders Forum at Columbia University.
The Maritime Boundary Office supported the Timor-Leste delegation to the United Nations in New York, and promoted Timor-Leste’s agenda on maritime boundaries at several side-events, and meetings with key institutions such as the United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea.
On 29 September, the Prime Minister met with Senator George Mitchell, a great American statesman, who shared his thoughts and experience on the resolution of international disputes and conflict.
Professor Vaughan Lowe, Queen’s Counsel, a world-renowned expert in the law of the sea and Emeritus Chichele Professor of Public International Law at Oxford University, presented a lecture and question and answer session on the law of the sea to a public gallery at the National University of Timor-Lorosae (UNTL). The event was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and provided an opportunity for the Timorese public to gain an understanding of the principles of maritime boundary delimitation and why this is such an important issue for Timor-Leste.
The Consultative Commission of the Timor-Leste Government, formed in 2015, consists of eminent past and present leaders of the nation and advises the Prime Minister on Timor-Leste’s pursuit of its maritime boundaries. The Commission met several times throughout the year.
The Maritime Boundary Office (MBO) was represented at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea’s (ITLOS) 11th regional workshop held in Bali, Indonesia on 27 and 28 August 2015.