[Scroll down for the latest news update - 26 September]
TIMFO.ORG is the website of the Timor Sea Forum and supports East Timor's campaign to determine its maritime boundary with Australia.
There is no maritime boundary between our two countries, only provisional arrangements for resource sharing. The Timorese people say that "drawing the line" is an important and final step in fully determining their sovereign territory.
As you can see in the video East Timor's leadership being very clear about what they are seeking from the Government of Australia. They put their position with passion, precision and with one voice.
Thanks for visiting TIMFO. Please scroll down for the latest news, click on some of the blog post you can see listed on the right and look here for some ideas on what you can do. Also follow us on twitter - a great way to keep up-to-date!
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26 September 2016
Commission to Proceed
The Conciliation Commission issued its Decision on Competence on the 19th of September and it was made public today. The Permanent Court of Arbitration put out a Press Release announcing that "In its Decision, the Commission held that it was competent to continue with the conciliation process.”
This means the challenges of Australia to the commissions existence have been overcome and the proceedings concerning the establishment of a maritime boundary between Australia and East Timor will continue. The Government of Timor-Leste responded with a media release saying “Timor-Leste welcomes this decision. This process is an opportunity to set a good example in our region and we will engage with respect for the commission and its recommendations, ever conscious of the importance of maintaining the best possible relationship with our close neighbour Australia.”
More to come in a blog post and plenty on the Facebook page too.
12 September 2016
We should hear about the decision of the Conciliation Commission in response to Australia's challenge to its existence in the next two or three weeks.
But I am not waiting for this.
Whatever decision is made by the five commissioners will not be a decision about the merits of Timor's position or about where a boundary between our two countries would be drawn.
It will be a technical decision about the suitability of the commission to hear the issue based on the relevant articles of the Untied Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea [UNCLOS].
The fact is that regardless of the upcoming decision there is still an unresolved dispute with our neighbour.
It remains a source of bitterness, is unnecessary, reflects poorly on Australia and could be resolved now by our Government. Fan of Labor or not, had Labor made it over the line in the July election we would already be in direct negotiations with the Government of East Timor to establish the maritime border between our two countries.
It is possible and it will happen, sooner or later. But sooner would be much better.
It is deeply disappointing to me that our Government is so determined to avoid this UN process when we are so vocal about the value of UNCLOS as a mechanism to solve maritime disputes in the South China Sea. There is a clear and uncomfortable contrast in the language applied to the two disputes shown in the picture here. I have written before on why it is in Australia's national interests to enter into negotiations with Timor and one reason is to leave this hypocritical double standard behind.
Now is the time to ramp up our efforts rather than playing wait and see. You will be hearing more from the Timor Sea Justice Forum and the Timor Sea Justice Campaign in the coming weeks. I recommend to you the new crowd funding campaign being undertaken by our friends in the TSJC to support the advocacy work. We encourage you to ask your local member what their position is on establishing the maritime border with East Timor. Information about a range of activities over the remaining months of 2016 coming soon.
So not waiting, ramping up.
Till we see justice in the Timor Sea.
In under a minute
"Get Up" put together this ad to get the message out around the time of the G20 summit held in Australia earlier in 2015. Have a look.
Here's what they write:
A decade ago, Australia took advantage of a nascent East Timor to negotiate a remarkable treaty that short-changed the second poorest country in Asia out of tens of billions of dollars in gas and oil revenue. That included alleged spying on East Timor negotiators to get an upper hand.
When East Timor learned of Australia's espionage last year, they sought to renegotiate the treaty. What happened next was shocking. Australian agents raided the home of a former intelligence agent and seized his passport preventing him from traveling to the The Hague to provide his evidence.
The International Court of Justice has slammed the Australian Government's actions. But without international pressure, history may well repeat itself during this next round of negotiations.