sexta-feira, 11 de abril de 2014

Conflct in Timor Sea

By Sarita Ryan

According to Alexander Downer, former Australian Foreign Minister and subsequent board advisor to Woodside Petroleum, a country’s reputation is on the line. Downer claims that Timor-Leste’s appeal to terminate a key treaty with Australia in the Permanent Court of Arbitration reveals the tiny nation to be an unruly negotiator:

‘This is exactly why developed countries are reluctant to invest in developing countries. The sovereign risk is too high. An agreement, a law, a treaty is only okay when it suits the government…East Timor will win a reputation for being unreliable with no leverage to gain extra revenue from its reckless policy. As a person who did so much to get East Timorese their independence, that makes me sad.’


Recent proceedings have suggested that it might be Australia, rather than Timor-Leste, that is currently most at risk of gaining a bad reputation. When Sir Eli Lauterpacht, Timor-Leste’s leading counsel at the International Court of Justice, dubbed ASIO’s confiscation of evidence ‘improper and inexplicable’, Australia’s legal team responded to the assertions as ‘wounding’. Unfortunately for Australia, hurt feelings didn’t translate into a legal high ground in the ICJ, and it’s possible there are more sad faces to come; the ANU’s Donald Anton notes that if Timor-Leste’s allegations prove true, and Australia is found to have gained an unfair advantage in treaty negotiations through spying on Timor-Leste, Australia may earn the dubious distinction of being the first known state to have a treaty declared invalid on account of fraud (under Article 49 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties). Australia may well be losing the image game in its dealings with Timor-Leste.
For decades, Australia has sought to carefully manage the conflicting positions of its desire for resource control in the Timor Sea and its image as a nation aligned with the moral principles of sovereignty and self-determination. It is now looking increasingly like Australia may not be able to have it both ways. Contrary to Downer’s claim, the arbitration case concerns more than the gain of ‘extra revenue’ in Timor-Leste. Certainly, this is a case about oil and espionage, fair resource distribution and good faith in agreements between nations. However, the drama surrounding the spying scandal is something of the tip of an older issue: Timor-Leste’s ongoing struggle to become an independent, sovereign state, complete with maritime boundaries, and Australia’s fraught position in this process.

La’o Hamutuk, a prominent Timorese civil society organisation, has held several briefings for local and Australian journalists over the past few months to clarify a significant degree of confusion surrounding the case, including an often repeated claim that Timor-Leste’s arbitration case is seeking to redraw Australian/Timorese maritime borders. The organisation stressed that permanent maritime boundaries have never been set between Australia and Timor-Leste, rather, previous agreements have related to the division of resources in the Timor Sea. In taking the present case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration, Timor-Leste is seeking not only a re-division of oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea, but the establishment of maritime boundaries in accordance with international law, a persistent issue since the beginning of Australian/Timorese resource negotiations. As Juvinal Dias, a researcher at La’o Hamutuk, stressed, “(the arbitration case) is not just about oil. It’s about sovereignty… This struggle is like the struggle for independence.”

The story of Australian and Timorese oil and gas negotiations has been well documented,but is necessary to revisit in order to chart Australia’s long-term strategy in the Timor Sea. Discovered by Woodside Petroleum in the early 1970s, the untapped resources in the Greater Sunrise field, worth an estimated $40 billion, proved highly influential on Australia’s position regarding an independent Timor-Leste. In 1974, reflecting global trends in maritime agreements, Portuguese Timor advocated for resource sharing along a median line between the two countries, under which Australia would have received little or nil of the resources. On the contrary, precedent suggested that Indonesia would be far more amenable to Australia claiming a significant proportion; Indonesia and Australia had previously negotiated maritime boundaries based on the outdated ‘continental shelf’ principle, resulting in a deal that was referred to in Indonesia as ‘Australia taking us to the cleaners’. The following diplomatic cable, from the year prior to the collapse of Portuguese colonial rule and Indonesia’s subsequent invasion of Timor-Leste, reveals the extent to which resources were at the forefront of Australian concerns, coupled with a need to maintain an image of impartiality:
‘The Indonesians would probably be prepared to accept the same compromise as they did in the negotiations already completed on the seabed boundary between our two countries. Such a compromise would be more acceptable to us than the present Portuguese position. For precisely this reason however, we should be careful not to be seen as pushing for self-government or independence for Portuguese Timor or for it to become part of Indonesia, as this would probably be interpreted as evidence of our self-interest in the seabed boundary dispute rather than a genuine concern for the future of Portuguese Timor.’

In 1975, Australia chose to adopt a ‘realist’ rather than ‘idealist’ position on Timorese self-determination, which was argued to provide not just greater regional stability, but greater possibilities for resource access. This famous letter from Richard Woolcott, Australian Ambassador to Indonesia in 1975, provides the background of Australia’s tacit approval of the Indonesian annexation of Timor-Leste:

‘It would seem to me that (the Australian) Department (of Minerals and Energy) might well have an interest in closing the present gap in the agreed sea border and that this could be much more readily negotiated with Indonesia…than with Portugal or independent Portuguese Timor…I know I am recommending a pragmatic rather than a principled stand (regarding Indonesian annexation) but this is what national interest and foreign policy is all about.’

This ‘pragmatic’ position proved highly profitable for Australia. Following Indonesia’s 1975 invasion of Timor-Leste, Australia and Indonesia signed the Timor Gap Treaty (1989). By this stage, the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) had come into effect, establishing the median line principle as the basis for setting maritime jurisdictions between countries less than 400 nautical miles apart. However, in a highly favourable deal to Australia, the Timor Gap Treaty divided the resources between the 1972 boundary and the median line equally. The treaty proved extremely profitable, with Australia netting more than $2 billion in government taxes from the Laminaria-Corallina fields alone. These fields are now largely depleted

In the late 1990s, the growing surge for independence in Timor-Leste threw all previous agreements between Indonesia and Australia into doubt. In anticipation, Australia withdrew its recognition of the maritime boundary dispute jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, just two months prior to Timor-Leste’s declaration of independence. At the time, Downer asserted that it was it was Australia’s ‘strong view is that any maritime boundary dispute is best settled by negotiation rather than litigation.’ Timor Sea agreements between the newly independent Timor-Leste and Australia were then negotiated directly between the two countries, without reference to UNCLOS. The resulting Timor Sea Treaty (signed in 2002, ratified in 2003) established that fields in the Joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA), such as Bayu Undan, are shared via a 90% (Timor-Leste) and 10% (Australia) split, an improvement on the 50/50 split under Indonesian rule. This appears considerably more equitable than the earlier arrangement; however, it must be kept in mind that Australia would not be entitled to any of these resources under the median line principle. During the negotiations, Timor-Leste repeatedly tried to raise the issue of permanent maritime boundaries along a median line, prompting this well documented outburst from Downer: ‘We don’t have to exploit the resources (in Bayu Undan). They can stay there for 20, 40, 50 years…. We are very tough. We will not care if you give information to the media. Let me give you a tutorial in politics- not a chance.’

Another key problem of the Timor Sea Treaty was its link to the Sunrise-International Unification Agreement (referred to in this article as the ‘Sunrise Agreement’). Despite the Greater Sunrise field falling entirely in Timor-Leste’s maritime territory under UNCLOS, the Sunrise Agreement stated that less than 20% of Greater Sunrise lay within the JPDA, with the remaining 80% assigned to Australia. Australia would not ratify the Timor Sea Treaty until Timor had signed the Sunrise Agreement, delaying desperately needed cash flow to Timor from Bayu Undan. At the time, Greens Senator Bob Brown accused the Howard Government of ‘blackmail’, and was suspended from the Senate for the day as a result. Timor-Leste is now claiming, through its case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration, that Australia was well aware of its desperate position through the bugging of government offices in Dili, and that these agreements were made in bad faith on Australia’s part. Timor-Leste resisted ratifying the Sunrise Agreement for years after signing it, and in 2006 the Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea (CMATS) Treaty was devised as a compromise, giving each country a 50% share of Greater Sunrise. The treaty also came with the condition that Timor-Leste would not raise the issue for another fifty years, thus effectively closing the possibility for Timor-Leste to set permanent maritime boundaries, at least until after Timor Sea oil and gas reserves had been exhausted.

As far back as 1974, it was acknowledged in Australian government circles that it was important to balance Australia’s resource aspirations with establishing a cooperative relationship with an independent Timor-Leste: ‘If Australia thus became a focus of antagonism, we would almost certainly lose much of our capability to influence or assist a newly independent government’ (38 Cablegram to New York, 1974). Australia is acknowledged as a key actor in Timor-Leste’s independence narrative; our assistance through the INTERFET peace keeping force during the 1999 independence referendum and subsequent violence is well remembered and appreciated, and AusAID (now DFAT) contributes roughly $116 million per year in aid expenditure, making Australia Timor’s largest bilateral donor. However, it has also been well noted that Australia’s profits from Timor Sea reserves, both during Indonesian occupation and post-independence, far outweigh the costs of any military and humanitarian assistance to Timor-Leste. As Dias exclaimed during our conversation: ‘You can’t give me a hand and take my arm!’ That the alleged spying occurred under the cover of an AusAID program is uncomfortably symbolic of Australia’s long-standing position towards Timor-Leste. Timorese sovereignty and Australia’s economic self-interest in the Timor Sea have never sat easily together.

In January 2014, Downer wrote an opinion piece promoting Australia as a responsible international citizen after a series of attacks by the ABC and others, describing such criticism as a ‘standard practice at the ABC. Whenever a foreigner criticises us, it’s always our fault.’ Downer describes CMATS as an act of charitable goodwill by the Australia government: ‘In 2006 we struck a deal with the Timorese: we’d give them 50 percent of the revenue (of Greater Sunrise) because they were poor and we were rich….We didn’t really need the money to the extent that they did.’
Strikingly, not once in Downer’s opinion piece does he mention the awkward reality of the median line principle and UNCLOS, which might suggest that Australia may have ‘given away’ that which was, in fact, not its to give.

The upcoming months may prove to be dramatic for the relationship between Australia and Timor-Leste. It could well be that Australia walks away from the Permanent Court of Arbitration not just with the loss of Greater Sunrise, but with an unenviable reputation as a country that conducts international agreements in bad faith, and exploits small, poor countries for its own economic gain. The game may well have changed. If-Leste is successful in the Court, it will certainly seek to establish its own permanent maritime boundaries, in accordance with the median line principle. For Timor-Leste, this would be the conclusion of a struggle for self-determination spanning forty years. For Australia, it may well prove to be a clear sign that its economic self-interest in the Timor Sea is simply at odds with both the sovereignty of its tiny neighbor, and principles of international law. Perhaps having it both ways was never really possible.

Sarita Ryan is a teacher and researcher of labour, education and informal economies. 




SOURCE: RIGHT NOW

domingo, 23 de março de 2014

About the Timor Sea Maritime Boundary

       A blog has literally mapped all the agreements and bureaucracy process that the Timor Sea has been passing through from the past almost 40 years. The blog actually has several posts about the theme, so it is definitely worth checking it out! It has been added to the links page, at the left site.



quarta-feira, 19 de fevereiro de 2014

Ministry to revitalize 
fishery management

The Jakarta Post, 19/02/2014.

The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry on Tuesday announced a plan aimed at revitalizing fishery management in the country and to help it conform with the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM).



In the first phase, the management plan will be implemented in the waters of Aru, Arafura and the east of the Timor Sea, dubbed the fishery management area (WPP) 718 region.



“The ministry will revitalize fishery management in all areas of Indonesia, starting with WPP 718 because Aru, Arafura and the east of the Timor Sea have the most fishery potential in Indonesia,” Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Sharif Cicip Sutardjo said before the announcement of the management plan in Jakarta on Tuesday.



WPP 718, which is administratively governed by the Maluku, West Papua and Papua provinces, is the first of Indonesia’s 11 fishery management areas to be given the treatment that will be implemented in accordance with the 32 indicators of the EAFM consisting of six domains, namely fish resources, habitat and ecosystem, fishing techniques, social, economy and institutional.



The EAFM aims to maintain sustainable fisheries, as ensuring the long-term health of the marine ecosystem is the determinant factor to ensure a sustainable yield of commercial harvests from the sea.



Fishermen will be supervised and given counselling on sustainable fisheries by the National Working Group on the EAFM, which includes the Directorate of Fisheries Resources, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Indonesia as well as the Research Center of Marine and Coastal Resources.



Sharif said that Indonesia was already late in implementing the EAFM in comparison to other countries such as Spain and China, which have already applied the fishing opening and closing season depending on the species and the area.



“Indonesia opened its waters to all businesspeople and fishermen to capture fishes from, but we must implement the ‘open-close’ fishing system so that fish may spawn before they are caught so fish population will increase,” Sharif said.



Director general of Fisheries Gellwynn Jusuf said that in the implementation, the central government would work together with local administrations as well as organizations and research centers. “Such integrated cooperation on fishery management is the first of its kind in Indonesia,” said Gellwynn.



According to Gellwynn, the fishery management plan aims to be beneficial for local administrations, the central government as well as businesses to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) and to promote the implementation of the ecosystem approach to implement the blue economy, which aims to fulfil basic needs where the waste becomes the input.



“WPP 718 contains one of the world’s most fertile ecosystems; its shrimp potential is 45 percent of the national potential, and also contributes 20 percent to the total national fishery potential. 



However, it also has experienced the biggest loss due to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, an estimated Rp 17 trillion (US$1.4 billion) in losses,” said Sharif.



According to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), marine capture fishery production in Maluku, West Papua and Papua in 2012 was 537,262 tons, 120,329 tons and 281,480 tons, respectively.



Sharif added that marine capture fishery production in Indonesia would be higher without IUU. He stated that with close supervision from the Maritime and Fisheries Resources Monitoring Task Force and the local administrations in the WPP 718 area, he was upbeat that the implementation of RPP-WPP 718 would increase Indonesia’s marine capture fishery production.

SOURCE: Jakarta Post

quinta-feira, 6 de fevereiro de 2014

Poesias Timorense

Menino de Timor
Jorge Barros Duarte


Menino de Timor, estás triste?!...
Porquê?!... - Não tenho com quem brincar!
Nem com quem!... Já nem posso falar!...
A minha terra correste e viste

Como só há silêncio e tristeza!...
Assim é na palhota que habito!...
Já nem oiço na várzea um só grito!...
Só vejo gente que chora e reza!...

Que saudade que eu tenho dos jogos
Da minha aldeia agora deserta!...
O "La'o-rai", que a memória esperta,
Co'as pocinhas na terra, ora a fogos

Mil sujeita!... O "caleic" também era
jogo apreciado da pequenada:
"Hana-caleic"!... de tudo já nada
Resta agora!... Só vejo essa fera

De garra adunca e dente aguçado
A rugir tão feroz que ninguém
A doma já, pois tem medo não tem
De um povo à fome, sem horta ou gado!...

Menino, sou, mas sofro já tanto
Como se fora de muita idade
E co'a alma cheia só de maldade!... 
Jesus, tem pena deste meu pranto!...

Jesus Menino, dá-me alegria!...
Se na minha terra é tudo tão triste!...
Gente tão má neste mundo existe?!...
Coisas assim tão ruins?!... Não sabia!... 

Mais em http://www.jornaldepoesia.jor.br/timor.html

quarta-feira, 25 de dezembro de 2013

Coral Triangle Initiative Member Countries Target Launch of Permanent Secretariat by 2014


To further strengthen their commitment to protect and sustain the world’s epicenter of marine biodiversity, member countries of the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF) have committed to launch its Permanent Secretariat and install an Executive Director by mid-2014.

The commitment was made by more than 70 CTI –CFF government representatives at the 9th CTI-CF Senior Officials Meeting (SOM9) held in Manila from November 26-27, 2013. CTI-CFF officials agreed to the establishment of an Appointments Committee by February 2014 and the engagement of an independent recruitment expert to serve as Facilitator for the hiring of the Executive Director.

The Permanent Secretariat will be hosted by Indonesia and will serve as the main coordinating body in implementing the initiative’s Regional Plan of Action. The CTI-CFF members, which includes Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste, have also committed that at least four countries will have ratified the Agreement on the  Establishment of CTI-CFF Regional Secretariat by early 2014 so that it can enter into force.

The two-day SOM9 followed meetings and incorporated outcomes of the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management Technical Working Grou ; the Financial Resources Working Group ; and the Coordination Mechanisms Working Group on November 25, 2013. A CTI-CFF Partner Meeting was also conducted on November 28, 2013.

CTI-CFF officials also took steps to expand CTI membership, partnership and collaborative arrangements. In particular, the Meeting considered Brunei-Darussalam’s expression of interest to join the CTI-CFF, the Coral Triangle Center’s application to be recognized as an official CTI Partner, and proposed cooperation arrangements between the CTI-CFF and other international organizations, specifically the South East Asia Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Date: 28 November 2013
Source: CoralTriangleInitiative.org

terça-feira, 10 de dezembro de 2013

sexta-feira, 8 de novembro de 2013

New laws, new projects

Decree-Law approving the Organic Law of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries

According to the Organic of the V Constitutional Government, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is responsible for the design, implementation, coordination and evaluation of the policy, defined and approved by the Council of Ministers, for the areas of agriculture, forestry, livestock and fisheries.

Aiming to give a response to the great options of the policy, established in accordance with the Strategic Development Plan, this diploma reformulates the structure and the due competencies of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, giving it the means that allow increasing equity, effectiveness and efficiency of its services, in order to achieve food safety and generate national economic growth.

Tasi Mane Projects

After an analysis of the results of calls for projects related with the South Coast (Tasi Mane), presented to the National Procurement Commission (NPC), the Council of Ministers approved the recommendation of NPC, of awarding the contract for the construction of the Airport of Suai to the firm PT.Washkita Karya.

The Council of Ministers also assessed the result of the pre-qualifying evaluation for the design and construction of the Logistical Support Base of Suai, having approved the application of five companies from the 15 competing for this project. The selected companies were: Essar Projects (India) Ltd, Afcons Infrastructure Ltd., HDEC-HEC-AMCO consortium, BAM International-Van Oord Dredging-Marine Contractor-Wijaya Karya consortium and the Construtora San Jose S.A.-Tecnicas Reunidas S.A. consortium.

SOURCE: ETAN