As a newly independent country, East Timor is faced with a number of significant challenges and opportunities—including the delimitation of international boundaries. Although it is the case that the majority of maritime boundaries around the world remain undelimited, where they are defined they provide jurisdictional clarity and certainty (Prescott & Schofield 2005:216-18). This can have multifaceted benefits, for instance in terms of facilitating the sustainable and effective management of the ocean environment and enhancing maritime security. Perhaps of more pressing importance for a developing country, agreement on the limits of maritime jurisdiction serves to secure coastal state rights to access and manage marine resources, both living and non-living. In a similar vein, boundary delimitation can provide an attractive way for a newly independent state, such as East Timor, to assert its sovereignty, legal authority and thus legitimacy. Delimitation also eliminates zones of overlapping maritime claims, which can cause competition and conflict between neighbouring states, thereby removing a significant potential source of friction and dispute in international relations (Schofield 2005a).
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