Timor-Leste’s Maritime Boundary Treaty with Australia

On 6 March 2018, Timor-Leste and Australia signed an historic Maritime Boundary Treaty at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The Maritime Boundary Treaty establishes for the first time permanent boundaries between Timor-Leste and Australia in the Timor Sea. The signing of the Treaty concluded the compulsory conciliation process, under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which was initiated by Timor-Leste on 11 April 2016.

A New Chapter in Bilateral Relations with Australia

The resolution of the maritime boundary dispute between Timor-Leste and Australia provides a new foundation for the relationship between the neighbours.

The bonds of friendship between the Timorese and Australian people have always been strong. They have been growing since the Second World War, when Australian soldiers landed in Timor were supported by Timorese. The Timorese people became critical to the Australian operation, helping the soldiers to navigate the mountains and gain a strategic advantage over enemy troops. Over 40,000 Timorese died before the war came to an end. In the years since, many Australian veterans have supported Timor-Leste, believing they owe the Timorese people a debt of honour.

Australian and Timorese people have built close relationships, including through church networks, veterans’ associations, local government and friendship groups. Numerous schools operate exchange programs that see many Australian school children visit the districts of Timor-Leste every year, and hundreds of Timorese young people study at learning institutions across Australia.

Despite these links, there have been tensions in the government to government relationship, including with regard to maritime boundaries and petroleum resources. The conciliation process greatly strengthened the bilateral relationship allowing both countries to look forward to a future of close friendship and cooperation.

To read more about Timor-Leste’s journey towards this achievement, click here



This website is hosted by the Maritime Boundary Office of the Council for the Final Delimitation of Maritime Boundaries to allow readers to learn more about Timor-Leste’s pursuit of permanent maritime boundaries. The Council for the Final Delimitation of Maritime Boundaries and the Maritime Boundary Office do not accept any legal liability for any reliance placed on any information contained in this website (including external links). The information provided is a summary only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. The information and views expressed in this website and in any linked information do not constitute diplomatic representations and do not limit or otherwise affect the rights of the Council for the Final Delimitation of Maritime Boundaries, the Maritime Boundary Office or the Government of Timor-Leste. The views expressed in any linked information do not necessarily reflect the views of the Council for the Final Delimitation of Maritime Boundaries, the Maritime Boundary Office or the Government of Timor-Leste.

GFM is the acronym for “Gabinete das Fronteiras Marítimas”, which is the Portuguese translation of Maritime Boundary Office.