A Fair Go for East Timor? Sharing the Resources of the Timor Sea
A steady reduction in the United Nations presence in East Timor coupled with failure to reach an agreement with Australia concerning control over vast offshore oil and gas deposits in the Timor Sea raised fears of East Timor (Timor Leste) sliding towards becoming a "failed state" only three years after finally achieving independence from Indonesia after a quarter of a century of violent struggle. The draft agreement between Australia and East Timor on sharing the contested seabed resources lying between them, finalized in May 2005, has the potential to transform this scenario. This article explores the key economic and security challenges facing East Timor as a prelude to an evaluation of the question of maritime boundary delimitation in the Timor Sea, including analysis of the positions of the contending parties and assessment as to whether the new agreement represents a just and equitable resolution of the dispute (in Australian parlance, a "fair go") for East Timor.