Mandatory Counseling

Why the Timor-Leste V. Australia Conciliation Court Case Matters For Maritime Dispute Resolution

Published in: Maritime Dispute Resolution and the Future of the Asian Order Essay Series, Pell Center for International Relations and Policy, Salve Regina University, 19 October 2017

Posted on on October 24, 2017

by Lyle J. Morris

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What if instead of issuing binding judgements, compulsory mechanisms of international law could compel two parties of a maritime dispute to sit down at the negotiating table to work through their differences? And suppose instead of issuing awards with outcomes favorable to one party over another, a committee of judges could mediate and attempt to find common ground between two parties of a dispute? Such is the result of a landmark agreement between Timor-Leste and Australia which saw the two countries reach consensus on the central elements of a maritime boundary delimitation in the Timor Sea. What made the agreement so notable was that Australia was, in essence, forced to negotiate with Timor-Leste under unilateral proceedings it brought before Australia under a little-known clause within Annex V of the United Nations Convention Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) under the auspices of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA).

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