Chapter 4 Timor Sea Conciliation: A Harbinger of Dispute Settlement under UNCLOS?

In: A Bridge over Troubled Waters
Author: Natalie Klein

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The Timor Sea Conciliation was the first compulsory conciliation under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (unclos), commencing in 2016 and concluding with the release of the Conciliation Commission’s Report and Recommendations in May 2018. The use of this mechanism prompts the question as to whether this is a harbinger for resort to conciliation to resolve other outstanding maritime boundary disputes, or indeed for the use of conciliation more generally for other disputes. Or are the circumstances so unique that we cannot expect a flurry of conciliation proceedings in the near future? This paper seeks to explore these questions in providing: a brief background to the boundary dispute between Timor-Leste and Australia; the features of conciliation and how it has previously been used in international dispute settlement; the requirements for conciliation under unclos in relation to maritime boundary disputes and how well the dispute between Timor-Leste and Australia met these requirements; the process and achievements of the conciliation commission in resolving the Timor-Leste / Australia maritime boundary dispute and what is anticipated under unclos in the follow-up to a conciliation of a maritime boundary dispute.

A Bridge over Troubled Waters

Dispute Resolution in the Law of International Watercourses and the Law of the Sea


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