Australian Embassy

Timor-Leste: ICJ case discontinued

Timor-Leste: ICJ case discontinued

Joint media release
The Hon Julie Bishop MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs
Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, Attorney-General

5 June 2015

The Australian Government welcomes formal notification by the Government of Timor-Leste that it will discontinue the case before the International Court of Justice on ‘Questions relating to the seizure and detention of certain documents and data’ (Timor-Leste v. Australia).

Australia returned the documents in question in the dispute in good faith, without acknowledgment that Australia had violated Timor-Leste’s sovereign rights.

The Australian Government believes differences between our nations are best resolved through consultation. We are therefore disappointed that Timor-Leste has decided to resume the arbitration against Australia challenging the validity of the Treaty on Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea (CMATS). Australia will strongly defend the arbitration.

The Australian Government reached agreement on CMATS with Timor Leste in 2006 and we remain committed to the treaty. Both Governments agreed to defer further maritime boundary negotiations during the life of the treaty. Australia remains committed to that agreement and is disappointed that Timor-Leste is attempting to re-open it.

Under the Timor Sea treaty framework, Timor-Leste receives 90 per cent of revenue from the Joint Petroleum Development Area (see Attachment A) and will receive 50 per cent of the upstream revenue from the Greater Sunrise fields – despite nearly 80 per cent of the Greater Sunrise fields lying in an area of exclusive Australian seabed jurisdiction.

The existing treaty framework has provided an effective means to share resources claimed by both countries and to develop them jointly. There have been substantial benefits to Timor-Leste enabling it to accrue a $16.5 billion Petroleum Fund. The framework ensures the certainty required by international companies in order to make substantial investments in the resource sector.

The map shows the location of the Joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA) within the Timor Sea between Australia and Timor-Leste. It also marks the 1972 Australia-Indonesia Seabed Boundary and Timor Trough. The Greater Sunrise Unit Area lies partly within the JPDA and partly in Australian seabed jurisdiction to the east of the JPDA and south of the 1972 Australia-Indonesia Seabed Boundary.