Eyes on Oz - Global Attention on the Conciliation Outcome

Following on from Professor Michael Leach's excellent article, Timor-Leste elections suggest reframed cross-party government I have tracked down the Report of the Committee on Armed Services US House of Representatives - and yes - there on page 210 of the report, is this observation by the Committee:

 
 

Now this "Item of Special Interest" may not make it into the final bill as passed by the US Congress and Senate - but the fact that it is there in this report of the committee sends an important message - this conciliation process is being watched closely.

Government of Australia - take note.

The US is tracking it and, considering this report, wants to see a fair resolution that respects international law achieved by 19 September.

The United Nations and all the International Law boffins are certainly watching closely. 

This is the first time a compulsory conciliation has been conducted under UNCLOS. This section of the convention [Annex V] was inserted precisely to help break through the kind of impasse we see with Australia and East Timor.

It is there in the convention to help countries, like Timor, that have been shut out of the option of arbitration and then are faced with a country that refuses to engage in boundary negotiations.

Will Australia's talk on respecting the 'international rules based order' prove to be only talk?

Will this landmark moment be a celebration of good dispute resolution, and the success of UNCLOS, or proof that a large developed country's stubbornness and self interest will prevail over its small undeveloped neighbour, regardless of its 'preaching'?

António Guterres, Secretary-General-designate of the United Nations, taking the oath of office and delivering remarks to the General Assembly. UN Photo/ Eskinder Debebe

António Guterres, Secretary-General-designate of the United Nations, taking the oath of office and delivering remarks to the General Assembly. UN Photo/ Eskinder Debebe

The UN Secretary General, who is to receive the report of the Conciliation Commission once we hit the 19th of September deadline, will definitely be paying attention - SG António Guterres is a former Portuguese Prime Minister with a long and close relationship with Timor.

The Timorese people just want to see their maritime boundary established fairly and in accordance with international law - to sort this issue out once for all so that the energy and money spent on this issue can be channelled back towards national development.

And we, the advocates for justice in the Timor Sea from around the world, will be watching too - wanting to see Australia show respect for its neighbour and resolve this amicably by 19th of September. 

We all will be looking for substance, not spin.