Conciliation in International Dispute Resolution: An Evaluation of the Timor Sea Dispute

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Peaceful Management of Maritime Disputes


With the advent and acceptance of the continental shelf regime in the years following the Second World War, the creation of maritime boundaries between some states relatively far apart became a necessity. This need only increased with the acceptance of the regime for exclusive economic zones, which effectively required opposite or adjacent states within 400 nautical miles of each other to conclude maritime boundaries. While many of these boundaries proved relatively easy to delimit, particularly where there was a significant distance between the states concerned, the process was not always straightforward. This chapter considers the difficulties in concluding a maritime boundary between Australia and Timor-Leste across the Timor Sea, and how the boundary was ultimately resolved through the first use of the conciliation process under Annex V of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The lessons learned from this conciliation may be of value in other disputes around the world.

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