04 September 2017

Copenhagen Agreement: Permanent Boundary or CMATS redux?

Between 28 August and 1 September 2017, another round of maritime boundary negotiations between Timor-Leste and Australia took place with the Conciliation Commission, this time in Copenhagen. This Conciliation Commission was established in June 2016 after Timor-Leste gave formal notice to Australia in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in April 2016.

Although these meetings in Copenhagen and elsewhere remain confidential, the Permanent Court of Arbitration shared information about the process in a 1 September press release announcing that the two nations have reached agreement about the central elements of delimiting their maritime boundary in the Timor Sea.

This agreement package not only discusses maritime boundaries, but also “addresses the legal status of the Greater Sunrise gas field, the establishment of a Special Regime for Greater Sunrise, a pathway to the development of the resource, and the sharing of the resulting revenue.” To explain, the legal status of the Greater Sunrise gas field changed after Australia and Timor-Leste, together with the Conciliation Commission, issued a Joint Statement on 9 January 2017 to terminate the CMATS Treaty (Treaty on Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea). This week’s press release also says that the two delegations will meet again privately with the Conciliation Commission to finalize this agreement by October 2017.

Although no details are available about what the two parties have agreed on, some people, including state officials, politicians and diplomats, have begun celebrating its result as a victory for Timor-Leste, which is dominating social media in Timor-Leste. Radio Televizaun Timor-Leste (RTTL) invited La’o Hamutuk, as a non-governmental organization that has long followed the process of defining maritime boundaries, to participate in their program 7 Minuto in the Saturday evening news to give our point of view on the results of the recent Copenhagen meeting.

Although La’o Hamutuk appreciates the efforts of the two nations to take a new step in talking about their maritime boundary dispute, we think it is too early to consider this agreement a victory that reaffirms Timor-Leste’s sovereignty. We don’t yet know the details of what they have agreed, and whether or not it follows the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) principle of the Median Line, which is the goal of the Timor-Leste people’s struggle.

La’o Hamutuk considers this celebration like the ‘celebration’ in 2005, when Timor-Leste and Australia agreed on the CMATS Treaty. On 9 December 2005, the Government put out a press release to celebrate that agreement, declaring that ‘This is a good agreement for Timor-Leste but it is also a good agreement for Australia’ which ‘also opens the way for the construction of a pipeline between Greater Sunrise and Timor-Leste and for the installation of a refining facility that will be the starting of petroleum activities on Timorese soil.’

Sadly, although the celebration had begun, in the end that ‘agreement’ was not considered a victory for Timor-Leste. This is because the CMATS Treaty blocked Timor-Leste from speaking about its sovereign rights while Greater Sunrise was in production, and continued to recognize Australia’s rights to sea areas which properly belong to Timor-Leste under principles of international law. Eventually, Timor-Leste decided to terminate the CMATS Treaty last January. In 2004, La’o Hamutuk had suggested to leave Greater Sunrise for the next generation, to be developed after the two nations had established a permanent maritime boundary.

Coming back to the new Copenhagen agreement – Although the substance of the agreement remains confidential, we hope that Timor-Leste chose to achieve its full sovereign rights, and not to repeat past errors which gave Australia permission to take our money and occupy Timor-Leste’s territory. It’s no secret that Timor-Leste has always abandoned its commitment to a permanent maritime boundary when it comes to the negotiating table.

When the Timor Sea Treaty was signed in 2002, Timor-Leste had to surrender 10% of the petroleum revenues from the Joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA) to Australia because the new nation needed income rapidly to rebuild while emerging from the massive destruction by the Indonesian military and their militias after the 1999 referendum. And in 2005, Timor-Leste surrendered its chance to speak out when the Government prioritized getting 50% of Sunrise revenues. Today, Timor-Leste’s financial situation is different from 15 years ago, but what will happen next month? Will Timor-Leste and Australia have a permanent maritime boundary, or will they make a new arrangement to replace the terminated CMATS Treaty?

There are two roads open to these two nations, depending on what proposals are brought to the negotiating table. The better road would be for the two countries to establish a permanent and fair maritime boundary. Australia must come to the negotiating table with good faith – that they will use UNCLOS as the basis for defining the maritime boundary. Australia is politically and economically powerful in this region, and it is easy for them to impose their interests in bilateral negotiations, rather than accepting those of their negotiating counterpart.

In addition to good faith from Australia, Timor-Leste also should have a strong position for the long term. Timor-Leste has already spent money and plans to spend a lot more for the Tasi Mane Project on its south coast, and wants to bring the Sunrise gas pipeline to that coast. But Timor-Leste should reduce its obsession with developing oil fields in the Timor Sea, and not include it in the package of proposals for the negotiation.

If Timor-Leste includes the status of the Greater Sunrise field in the negotiations, even if the share of revenues to Timor-Leste is more than the 50-50 share under CMATS, this continues to give Australia space to maintain its occupation of Timor-Leste’s territory while Sunrise is in production. La’o Hamutuk believes that if the new agreement really follows the UNCLOS median line principle, Dili alone may be able to decide about Greater Sunrise development, without consulting with Canberra.

However, if Timor-Leste only wins the Sunrise pipeline and a larger share of revenues relative to Australia, but we do not get a permanent maritime boundary according to UNCLOS, the result of these negotiations can be considered as only an effort to revoke the CMATS treaty, rather than a victory in the struggle for sovereignty.

Konkordánsia Copenhagen: Fronteira Permanente ka Neo-CMATS?

Hosi 28 Agostu to 1 Setembru 2017, delegasaun ba negosiasaun disputa fronteira maritima nian hosi Timor-Leste ho Australia hasoru malu tan ho Komisaun Konsiliasaun nian iha Copenhagen. Komisaun Konsiliasaun ida ne’e estabelese dezde Juñu 2016 hafoin Timor-Leste hatama notifikasaun formal kontra Australia ba iha Tribunal Permanente de Arbitragem iha Abril 2016.

Maske enkontru sira iha Copenhagen no fatin seluk sira ne’e kontinua konfidensiál, maibé Tribunal Permanente de Arbitragem ajuda públiku sira atu akompaña prosesu sira liu hosi fó sai komunikadu imprensa ida iha loron 1 Setembru 2017, katak nasaun rua ne’e iha ona akordu ida kona-ba elementu sentrál sira ba delimitasaun fronteira maritima nian entre nasaun rua ne’e nian iha Tasi Timor.

Pakote konkordánsia ida ne’e aléinde ko’alia kona-ba fronteira maritima, inklui mós aprosimasaun ba estatutu legal foun ba kampu gas Greater Sunrise nian, nudár dalan atu dezenvolve rekursu no atu fahe reseita hosi kampu gas ida ne’e. Atu aumenta, kampu gas Greater Sunrise ida ne’e nia estatutu legal muda tiha ona hafoin Australia no Timor-Leste hamutuk ho Komisaun Konsiliasaun nian fó sai Deklarasaun Trilateral Konjunta ida hodi termina Tratadu CMATS (Treaty on Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea/Tratadu ba Aranjamentu Balu iha Tasi Timor) iha loron 9 Janeiru 2017. Komunikadu ida ne’e mós hateten katak delegasaun rai rua ne’e sei iha tan pasu tuir mai hodi ba hasoru malu ho Komisaun Konsiliasaun iha Outubru 2017 nian ne’ebé sei hala’o ho konfidensiál tan atu finaliza konkordánsia sira ne’ebé foti ona.

Maske laiha detallu kona-ba opsaun saida de’it mak konkorda ona hosi parte rua ne’e, maibé ema balu, inklui ofisiais estadu, polítiku, diplomata lansa tiha rezultadu ida ne’e nudár vitória ba Timor-Leste atu selebra, no konsege domina tiha media sosiál sira iha Timor-Leste. Radio Televizaun Timor-Leste (RTTL), konvida La’o Hamutuk, nudár organizasaun naun governmental ida ne’ebé sempre tuir prosesu delimitasaun fronteira maritima nian atu prienxe sira nia programa 7 Minuto iha Telejornal kalan iha Sábadu atu bele fó pontu de vista kona-ba rezultadu hosi enkontru iha Copenhagen foin lalais ne’e.

Maske La’o Hamutuk apresia ba esforsu hosi rai rua ne’e hodi hakat ba pasu foun ida tan atu ko’alia disputa fronteira maritima entre rai rua ne’e, maibé ami hare katak sedu liu atu konsidera konkordánsia sira ne’e nudár vitória ba reafirmasaun soberania Timor-Leste nian bainhira opsaun sira ne’ebé sira konkorda malu iha Copenhagen ne’e ita seidauk hatene detallu no karik la tuir prinsipiu Liña Klaran tuir UNCLOS, prinsipiu ida ne’ebé sai nudár objetivu luta povu Timor-Leste nian.

La’o Hamutuk hare selebrasaun ida ne’e atu hanesan ho “selebrasaun” iha tinan 2005, bainhira Timor-Leste ho Australia iha konkordánsia ba Tratadu CMATS. Iha 9 Dezembru 2005, Governu anunsia sai komunikadu imprensa ida hodi selebra konkordánsia. Iha momentu ne’ebá, Governu deklara katak “Ne’e akordu di’ak ida ba Timor-Leste maibé mós di’ak ba Australia” ne’ebé “mós loke dalan ba konstrusaun kadoras entre Greater Sunrise no Timor-Leste no ba instalasaun fasilidade refinaria ida ne’ebé sei sai hun ba atividade petróleu iha Timor oan sira nia rai leten.”

Infelizmente, maske selebra ona antes, maibé ikus mai “konkordánsia” ida ne’e labele konsidera nudár vitória ida ba Timor-Leste. Tanba Tratadu CMATS refere taka oportunidade ba Timor-Leste atu ko’alia nia direitu soberania durante periodu produsaun gas Greater Sunrise nian, no mós kontinua rekoñese direitu Australia nian ba area tasi ne’ebé loloos pertense ba Timor-Leste tuir prinsipiu no direitu internasionál. No Timor-Leste rasik deside atu termina tratadu ida ne’e rasik iha Janeiru tinan ida ne’e. Iha tinan 2004, La’o Hamutuk husu atu husik de’it Greater Sunrise ba jerasaun foun sira, no bele dezenvolve bainhira iha ona fronteira maritima ida ne’ebé permanente entre rai rua.

Fila fali ba konkordánsia iha Copenhagen. Maske opsaun loloos sira ne’ebé konkorda ona kontinua konfidensiál, ami espera katak Timor-Leste hili ona opsaun ida atu hetan nia direitu soberania total,  ne’ebé sei labele repete tan fallansu sira iha pasadu ne’ebé fó de’it vantajen boot liu ba Australia atu hetan osan no okupa territóriu Timor-Leste nian. La’ós ona segredu katak Timor-Leste sempre lakon vantajen atu hetan nia fronteira maritima ida ne’ebé permanente bainhira asuntu petrolíferu tama ona iha meja negosiasaun nian.

Esperiénsia iha 2002, bainhira asina Tratadu Tasi Timor, Timor-Leste tenke rekoñese direitu 10% Australia nian hosi reseita petrolíferu hosi Area Konjunta ba Dezenvolvimentu Petróleu (JPDA) tanba nasaun foun ne’e presiza hela osan lalais atu konstrui nasaun ne’e hafoin sai hosi estragu masivu sira ne’ebé militár Indonézia no nia milisia sira halo hafoin referendum 1999. No iha 2005, Timor-Leste tenke lakon tan nia oportunidade atu ko’alia nia direitu bainhira Governu prefere simu 50% reseita hosi gas kampu Greater Sunrise nian. Ohin, situasaun finanseiru Timor-Leste diferente ona kompara ho tinan 15 liu ba, maibé saida mak atu kontinua mosu tuir mai iha Outubru 2017? Timor-Leste ho Australia sei iha Fronteira Maritima Permanente ka konkorda atu iha aranjamentu foun hodi troka tratadu CMATS ne’ebé termina ona?

Dalan rua ne’e nakloke ba rai rua ne’e, maibé ne’e depende ba opsaun ne’ebé lori ba iha meja negosiasaun. Dalan di’ak ida ne’ebé rai rua ne’e bele foti atu hatuur fronteira maritima ida ne’ebé permanente no justu mak Australia rasik tenke mai ho nia boa fe hodi negosia ho Timor-Leste iha meja. Boa fe katak Australia tenke uza UNCLOS nudár baze ba delimitasaun ba fronteira maritima. Nudár nasaun ida ne’ebé iha podér polítiku no ekonomia iha rejiaun ida ne’e, fasil ba Australia atu domina rezultadu negosiasaun bilateral nian ba sira nia interese duke ba nasaun opozitor nian.

Aleinde boa fe hosi Australia, Timor-Leste rasik mós tenke iha opsaun ida ne’ebé forte no dura ba tempu naruk. Maske durante ne’e Timor-Leste gasta ona, no iha planu atu gasta barak liu tan ba projetu Tasi Mane iha kosta súl Timor-Leste nian, no hakarak atu dada kadoras gas Greater Sunrise nian. Maibé Timor-Leste tenke redús nia obsesaun ba dezenvolvimentu hamutuk kampu mina-rai sira iha Tasi Timor nudár pakote ida hosi opsaun sira iha meja negosiasaun nian.

Bainhira Timor-Leste inklui tiha estatutu kampu gas Greater Sunrise nian iha negosiasaun, maske númeru porsaun lukru nian ba Timor-Leste bele aumenta boot liu kompara ho porsaun 50-50 ne’ebé mensiona iha Tratadu CMATS, maibé ida ne’e kontinua  fó espasu ba Australia atu mantén nia okupasaun ba territóriu Timor-Leste nian durante periodu produsaun kampu Greater Sunrise nian. La’o Hamutuk fiar katak bainhira konkordánsia foun ida ne’e tuir duni prinsipiu liña klaran iha UNCLOS, dezenvolvimentu Greater Sunrise nian bele deside de’it iha Dili no la presiza atu konsulta ho Canberra.

Basa, bainhira Timor-Leste manán de’it kadoras Greater Sunrise nian, aumenta nia porsaun reseita nian, no hatún porsaun Australia nian, maibé labele hetan fronteira maritima ida ne’ebé permanente tuir UNCLOS, rezultadu hosi negosiasaun ida ne’e bele konsidera nudár esforsu atu “reboka” de’it Tratadu CMATS duke konkista vitória ida hosi “luta soberania” ida.