Joint Standing Committee on Treaties
Department of House of Representatives, Parliament House
CANBERRA ACT 2600 AUSTRALIA
via Fax: +61/2-6277-2219 and e-mail: email@example.com
July 29, 2002
RE: Inquiry into the Timor Sea Treaty (May 2002) and the Exchange of
Notes between East Timor and Australia (Timor Sea) (May 2002)
We thank you and the Committee for providing this opportunity to
comment on your review of these two important agreements. Especially given
the devastation East Timor suffered in 1999, these agreements are vital to
the new country's near- and long-term future. Many throughout the world
are watching closely how Australia conducts itself on this matter.
The East Timor Action Network/U.S. has long supported East Timor's
self-determination. With that goal achieved, we remain concerned that
other nations treat East Timor as a sovereign equal and do not take
advantage of its relatively small size or current economic problems.
Although these issues are for the governments of Australia and the
Democratic Republic of East Timor to negotiate, we are sure the Committee
is aware that people throughout the world have a keen interest in the
Many people's opinion of Australia will be shaped by its conduct in
In this submission, therefore, we urge the Committee to press the
- To base their position in any negotiations on the sea boundaries
between East Timor and Australia on current international law, without
consideration of the illegitimate 1989 Timor Gap Treaty between
Australia and Indonesia. Agreement on sea boundaries should precede
any further agreements on revenue sharing.
- To acknowledge that all formulas to share revenue from the oil and
natural gas fields located between East Timor and Australia will be
based on these final boundaries.
- To accept international arbitration as a way to resolve these
issues. The government of Australia should rejoin the maritime
boundary dispute settlement mechanisms of the International Court of
Justice (ICJ) and the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
If the Australian government truly believes in the legal legitimacy of
its positions, it should not fear these neutral fora.
- To act expeditiously, so that the East Timorese can plan their
economic development based on an accurate assessment of future
revenue, and so that the people of East Timor have full access to all
resources and derived revenues from the Timor Sea -- especially from
the Greater Sunrise field -- which are rightfully theirs under
international law and which are greatly needed for the future of their
John M. Miller, Media/ Outreach Coordinator
on behalf of the East Timor Action Network./U.S.
East Timor Independent Information Centre for the Timor Sea
to Submissions on Timor Sea Treaties