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Warwick Gullett

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Reconciliation in the Timor Sea

Progress by Australia and Timor Leste towards Amicable Development of Offshore Resources

Warwick Gullett

Australia and Timor Leste’s relationship has been bedevilled by disagreement about rights to lucrative hydrocarbon resources lying beneath the seabed of the Timor Sea and a complicated and at times a painful history with Indonesia. This article reviews these circumstances, the progress that has been made to settle resource rights in overlapping claimed areas of the Timor Sea, and the international proceedings that have been taken by Timor Leste against Australia. It is concluded that the key outstanding issue – where, exactly, the seabed boundary between Australia and Timor Leste should be located – will not be resolved in these proceedings but that progress towards amicable development of offshore resources will rest on good faith negotiations, cooperation and sound understanding of laws and principles for maritime boundary delimitation.