La'o Hamutuk

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La'o Hamutuk asks Timor-Leste Parliament to scrutinize

the Treaty on Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea (CMATS)


Press release, 4 April 2006


La'o Hamutuk index page on the CMATS Treaty

Tetum original of the letter and press release follows below

Lao Hamutuk wrote a letter to the National Parliament on 9 March 2006, analyzing the CMATS Treaty with Australia and urging that the treaty be improved before it is ratified. Lao Hamutuk, a Timor-Leste non-governmental organization, concludes that the Treaty does not adequately protect Timor-Lestes sovereign rights or provide sufficient economic benefits to Timor-Leste, and also fails to resolve the essential issue of maritime boundaries. Therefore, Lao Hamutuk is asking the Parliament to study the Treaty carefully, and to use their legal authority to decline to ratify the Treaty and send it back to the Government to renegotiate with Australia.

Many people in Timor-Leste know the CMATS (Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea) Treaty as the Greater Sunrise Agreement which was signed by Timor-Leste and Australia last 12 January. In addition to an equal sharing of upstream revenues from the Greater Sunrise oil and gas field, the CMATS Treaty allows Australia to exploit resources in territory which would belong to Timor-Leste under international law, and prevents Timor-Leste from securing its maritime territory rights for 50 years.

The CMATS Treaty will enter into force after it has been ratified by both governments. Until now, the Timor-Leste Government has not sent it to Parliament for ratification.

The letter Lao Hamutuk wrote to the President of the RDTL Parliament and the leaders of each political party is below. So far, Lao Hamutuk has received no response and the matter has not been discussed in the Parliaments plenary session.

Lao Hamutuk
Timor-Leste Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis
1/1a Rua Mozambique, Farol, Dili, Timor-Leste
Tel: +670-3325013 or +670-7234330
Website: www.laohamutuk

To: His Excellency. Mr. Francisco Lu Olo Guterres,
President of the National Parliament of Timor-Leste and all members of Parliament

Cc: Bancada Fretilin Party,  Bancada Social Democratic Party, Bancada Democratic Party, Bancada KOTA, Bancada Timorese Nationalist Party, Bancada Timorese Socialist Party, Bancada Timorese Popular Party, Bancada UDT, Bancada Liberal Party, Bancada Christian Democratic Party, Christian Democratic Union/Christian Democratic Party, Media

Subject: Lao Hamutuk Analysis and Recommendations on the CMATS Treaty

Date: 9 March 2006

Dear Mr. President and all members of the National Parliament,            


As we know the Constitutional Government of Timor-Leste, led by H.E. Mr. Mari Alkatiri, has signed a treaty with Australia to enable exploration of the Greater Sunrise oil and gas field and to give opportunities to Australia to explore other areas of the Timor Sea. From the perspective and analysis of civil society, the revenue from Bayu-Undan in the JPDA will be sufficient to sustain and develop Timor-Leste for the next few years, as long as Timor-Leste has good policies to use the funds and develop other sectors of our economy.

However, the governments of Timor-Leste and Australia are moving rapidly toward this exploration, opening the way with the CMATS agreement.

As members of civil society who study Timor-Lestes development process, Lao Hamutuk strongly supports any decision taken by this Government which will benefit Timor-Lestes people. Lao Hamutuk also recognizes that the current Government has the legal authority to sign this Treaty, and we do not question the legitimacy of this Government led by H.E. Mr. Mari Alkatiri. Our concerns about the CMATS Treaty relate to the substance and the timing of the Treaty and not to the Governments right to sign it.

Lao Hamutuk appreciates the effort taken by the Government to improve the Treaty over what Australia offered in the 2003 International Unitization Agreement (IUA), increasing. Timor-Lestes share of upstream Sunrise revenue from 18% to 50% and has provided opportunities to Timor-Leste fishermen. Lao Hamutuk also appreciates the Government and the National Parliament for not ratifying the IUA, which helped encourage both Governments to renegotiate, resulting in a better agreement.

However, as a Civil Society Organization which has closely monitored oil and gas developments in Timor-Leste for several years, Lao Hamutuk wants to express our position for consideration by the National Parliament before you ratify the Treaty.

Based on current international legal principles, Timor-Leste has more rights to resources in the Timor Sea than this Treaty recognizes. But the Australian Government defies international law and continues to take those resources. Australia 2002 withdrawal from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2002 shows that Australia knows that its position is very weak in following international legal principles. This position, which is economically beneficial to Australia, is based on politics and faulty legal reasoning.

Lao Hamutuk Analysis

  1. This Treaty doesnt resolve the essential issue: the disputed Maritime Boundary. The treaty gives priority to exploit Greater Sunrise (article 2) and share its revenue (article 5). This contradicts our long struggle for independence.  Lao Hamutuk thinks that the debate over the Timor Sea is not only about oil and gas reserves, but also other resources in the Timor Sea. Our struggle for delimitation of our maritime boundary continues our struggle for independence, completing the liberation of our Patria from foreign occupation.

  2. The Treaty legalizes and extends Australia illegal occupation of part of the Timor Sea from 30 years (Timor Sea Treaty) to at least 50 years (CMATS Treaty article 3). We continue to believe that Timor-Lestes Government and civil society have the same position that gives priority to the Maritime Boundary. But this Treaty violates this principle and extending the occupation which contradicts our principles and struggle.

  3. The Treaty is more favorable to Australia than to Timor-Leste. This Treaty allows Australia to exploit other fields in the Timor Sea outside the JPDA and Sunrise IUA, including Laminaria-Corallina, Buffalo and other fields which may be discovered in the future (article 4). Economically, this article gives Australia opportunity to exploit current and potential fields in disputed areas, and Australia will receive many benefits from the Timor Sea. Timor-Leste will not have a strong legal position for 50 years or more, while CMATS is in force, including legalizing Australias occupation of Laminaria-Corallina.

  4. There are not many modifications to the IUA (including article 9.8) which Timor-Leste has not ratified, except for increasing Timor-Lestes share of revenue from 18% to 50%. But Australia still has the same political power over development decisions. According to IUA Article 9.8, which defines the composition of the Sunrise Commission, Australia has two Commissioners and Timor-Leste has only one. This gives Australia stronger political power than Timor-Leste in making decisions.

  5. CMATS Articles 4.5 and 11 about dispute resolution are not favorable to Timor-Leste.  We have seen that they require negotiation to settle disputes, which is favorable to the more powerful country. Negotiations are influenced by economic, political and military power, and reject legal principles.

  6. Although the Prime Minister Dr. Mari Alkatiri declared to the public that the Sunrise LNG plant will be developed inside Timor-Leste, but CMATS doesnt include this point. This omission gives the chance for the oil companies, especially, to make this decision.  We know that Woodside, as Sunrise operator, encouraged by the Australian Government, is opposed to an LNG Plant in Timor-Leste.  

  7. Finally, Lao Hamutuk observes that this Treaty appears more favorable to Australia and other countries which will purchase our oil and gas than it is to Timor-Leste which wants to delimit our maritime boundaries.

Lao Hamutuks Recommendations

Based on our analysis above, we would like make several recommendations:

  1. Regarding to the Maritime Boundary which is delayed for 50 years or more, Lao Hamutuk would like to recommend that the National Parliament of Timor-Leste review this Treaty. We strongly recommend that Negotiation over Maritime Boundaries should continue, even while Greater Sunrise is being developed. after the two countries sign the CMATS Treaty. Because of this, we recommend some changes in this Treaty, especially Article 3.

  2. While the negotiation over Maritime Boundaries proceeds, there should be a Moratorium on exploration of new fields until the two countries agree on maritime boundaries.

  3. IUA article 9.8, about the composition of the Sunrise Commission, should be modified. Both countries should have equal representation on the Sunrise Commission.

  4. Regarding dispute settlement, the Treaty should incorporate with other for mechanism conflict resolution such as; arbitration, courts, the International Court of Justice, if in the future there are conflicts about this agreement.

  5. We recommend adding an article about an LNG plant, to ensure that the LNG Plant will benefit the people of Timor-Leste.

In conclusion, Lao Hamutuk believes that this treaty primarily serves the national interests of Australia in guaranteeing their profit from the Greater Sunrise oil and gas reserve, rather than the national interests of Timor-Leste in delimiting a maritime boundary.

For the above reasons, and listening to the voices of civil society in Timor-Leste, Australia and other countries, we would like to urge the National Parliament, as the voice of the voiceless, to take these issues into consideration before ratifying this Treaty. We are confident that the National Parliament, as a sovereign institution elected by the Timor-Leste people, will defend Timor-Lestes peoples interests, and not those of the Australian Government or oil companies.

We hope that Timor-Lestes National Parliament will review the Treaty and ask the Prime Minister to renegotiate it with the Australian Government to make some modifications in the Treaty. We trust that the National Parliament will use well your right given under RDTL Constitution Article 95, to defend our national interest and our sovereignty.

For your sincere consideration, we would like to thank you.


Guteriano Nicolau Soares Neves and Santina Soares
Lao Hamutuk Natural Resources Team

Link to index of articles on this website about oil and natural gas

Lao Hamutuk
Timor-Leste Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis
1/1a Rua Mozambique, Farol, Dili, Timor Lorosae
Tel: +670-3325013 or +670-7234330

Kontaktu Santina Soares, Guteriano Nicolau ka Charlie Scheiner iha Numiru leten.

Press Release             Loron 4 Abril 2006

Lao Hamutuk Husu Parlamentu Nasional Estuda Didiak CMATS

Iha loron 9 Marsu Institusaun Lao Hamutuk hakerek karta ba Parlamentu Nasional hodi hatoo ninia analiza konaba Tratadu CMATS no husu ba Parlamentu hadia Tratadu nee antes ratifika. Tuir Institusaun Lao Hamutuk, kontekstu no substancia Tratadu nee ladun proteje Timor-Leste nia direitu soveranu ka ladun fo vantagem suficiente ba Timor-Leste nia ekonoma no la rezolve problema esencial fronteira maritima. Tamba nee Lao Hamutuk husu Parlamentu uza ninia autoridade legal hodi estuda didiak Tratadu ida nee no haruka fali ba Guverno atu halo negosiasaun fali .

Ema barak iha Timor-Leste hatene CMATS (Certain Maritime Arrangements in The Timor-Sea) mak hanesan Akordo Greater Sunrise nebe Guverno Timor-Leste ho Guverno Australia asina iha loron 12 Janeiru liu ba. Hodi aumenta tan konaba fahe upstream husi kampo mina ho gas Greater Sunrise, Tratadu CMATS fo lisensa ba Australia ho esploita rekursus nebe iha teritoriu Timor-Leste nian tuir lei internasional, no prevene Timor-Leste hodi hetan nia direitu ba fronteira too tinan 50. 

Tratadu CMATS sei tama iha vigor wainhira Parlamentu rai rua nee ratifika tiha ona. Too oras nee Guverno Timor-Leste  seidauk haruka tratadu nee ba Parlamentu Nasional hodi ratifika.

Tuir mai ami anexa karta nebe mak Lao Hamutuk hakerek ba Prezidente do Parlametu da RDTL no lideres husi partidu politiku ida-idak. Lao Hamutuk seidauk simu resposta no asunto nee seidauk diskuti iha seksaun plenaria Parlamentu nian.  

Lao Hamutuk
Timor-Leste Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis
1/1a Rua Mozambique, Farol, Dili, Timor-Leste
Tel: +670-3325013 or +670-7234330
Website: www.laohamutuk

Bodik ba : Sua Exelensia Senhor Francisco Lu Olo Guterres, Prezidente Parlamentu Nasional Timor-Leste no membros Parlementu hotu.

Kopia hatoo mos ba: Bankada Partidu Fretilin, Bankada Partidu Sosial Demokratiku, Bankada Partidu Democratiku, Bankada Klibur Oan Timor Asuwain, Bankada Partidu Nasionalista Timorense Bankada Partidu Sosialista Timorense Bankada Partidu Povu Timor Bankada Uniaun Democratiku Timorense Bankada Partidu Liberal Bankada Partidu Demokratiku Cristaun Bankada Uniaun Demokratiku Cristaun/Partidu Demokratiku Cristaun

Konaba: Analiza no Rekomendasaun husi Lao Hamutuk konaba Tratadu CMATS.

Loron 9 de Marcu, 2006

Senhor Prezidente no Membru Parlamentu Nasional hotu mak ami haktanek,

Lia makdalan

Nuudar ita hotu hatene, Governu Konstitusional Timor-Leste, neebe lidera hosi Sua Excelensia Senhor Mari Alkatiri, asina tiha ona akordu ida ho Australia atu hadalan esplorasaun kampu oleu no gaz Greater Sunrise no fo oportunidade ba Australia atu esplora area seluk iha Tasi Timor. Maske iha mos perspetiva no analize oi-oin husi sosiedade sivil katak rendimentu husi JPDA nee natoon ba sustentabilidade no dezenvolvimentu Timor-Leste ba tinan hirak tuir mai. Naran katak Timor-Leste iha vontade politika diak atu utiliza fundu nee hodi harii seitor sira seluk. Maibe, hakaas-an husi Governu Timor-Leste no Australia atu halao lalais esplorasaun nee ikus mai hetan ona ninian dalan liu husi akordu CMATS. Nuudar sosiedade sivil neebe mos hanesan parseiru iha dezenvolvimentu, Lao Hamutuk apoia tebes desizaun saida deit mak Governu nee hola, naran katak desizaun hirak nee lori benefisiu ba emar Timor-Leste. Lao Hamutuk mos hatene ho neon no laran katak Governu iha poder politika atu asina Akordu nee, no nunka tau iha duvida lejitimidade Governu neebe mak Sua Ezelensia Senior Mari Alkatiri kaer nee.

Lao Hamutuk apresia esforsu hirak neebe Governu nee halao hodi halo akordu nee hetok diak liu fali akordu uluk, hanesan aumenta husi pursentu 18 ba pursentu 50 husi rendimentu upstream husi Sunrise, sura mos ho oportunidade neebe mak tiha ikan nain sira husi Timor-Leste sei hetan. Lao Hamutuk mos apresia Governo no Parlamentu Nasional Timor-Leste nebe la ratifika Akordu Unitizasaun Internasional (AUI); no tan nee halo Governu rua nee negoseia fali hodi hetan fali rezultadu neebe diak liu iha akordu ohin loron. Maibe, hanesan Organizasaun sosiedade sivil ida neebe mak tau matan ba dezenvolvimentu mina no gaz iha Timor-Leste iha tinan balu nian laran, Lao Hamutuk hakarak hatoo ninian pozisaun neebe mak Parlamentu Nasional bele tau iha konsiderasaun molok atu ratifika akordu nee.

Bazeadu ba prinsipiu lei internasional ohin loron nian, Timor-Leste mak hetan direitu barak ba riku soin sira iha Tasi Timor laran liu fali akordu nee rekoniese. Maibe Governu Australia fila kotuk ba lei internasional hodi eziji nafatin rekursu hirak nee. Australia neebe dada-an sai husi Korte Internasional ba Justisa iha 2002 hatudu katak Australia ninian pozisaun fraku liu tuir prinsipiu lei internasional. Pozisaun nee, neebe mak ekonomikamente benefisial ba Australia, hetan ninian baze iha politika no rasiosiniu legal neebe la loos.

Lao Hamutuk Nia Analiza

  1. Akordu nee la rezolve buat hirak neebe mak esensial konaba Fronteira Maritima neebe mak sei disputada hela. Maibe Akordu nee hakarak liu atu halao esplorasaun petroleum iha Greater Sunrise (artigu 2) no regula fahe reseita (artigu 5). Buat nee kontra ita nian luta naruk ba independensia. Lao Hamutuk hanoin katak debate konaba Tasi Timor nee laos konaba rezerva mina no gaz maibe mos konaba soin seluk tan iha Tasi Timor laran. Ita sei luta ba Fronteira Maritima ida neebe loos nuudar luta kontinuada ida ba independensia kompleta atu liberta ita nian Patria husi okupasaun rai seluk.

  2. Akordu nee legaliza no hanaruk tan okupasaun ilegal Australia iha Tasi Timor husi tinan 30 (tuir Tratadu Tasi Timor) ba fali iha tinan 50 nian laran (Tratadu CMATS, Artigu 3). Uluk knanain, ami fiar katak Governu Timor-Leste iha pozisaun neebe hanesan ho sosiedade sivil katak Fronteira Maritima mak sei iha uluk. Maibe Akordu nee sees tiha ona husi prinsipiu ida nee no hanaruk tan okupasaun ilegal neebe mak la tuir ita nian prinsipiu no luta.

  3. Akordu nee favoravel liu ba Australia duke ba Timor-Leste. Akordu nee sei fo lisensa ba Australia atu esplora tan kampu sira seluk iha Tasi Timor laran neebe mak JPDA no AUI Sunrise la kobre, inklui Laminaria-Corallina, Buffalo no kampu sira seluk tan neebe sei hetan iha loron aban bain rua (artigu 4). Ekonomikamente, artigu nee fo oportunidade barak liu ba Australia atu esplora kampu foun sira karik sei hetan iha futuru, no Australia sei hetan benefisiu barak liu husi Tasi Timor. Timor-Leste sei la iha pozisaun legal neebe forte atu reivindika iha tinan 50 nian laran, bainhira CMATS nee tama iha forsa, inklui legalize okupasaun Australia ba iha Laminaria-Corallina.

  4. La iha modifikasaun barak ba iha AUI, (inklui artigu 9, pontu 8), neebe mak Timor-Leste la ratifika, ezetu aumenta tan fahe rendimentu husi pursentu 18 ba 50. Maibe Australia sei iha poder politika hanesan iha prosesu esplorasaun neebe iha nanis ona iha AUI. Artigu 9, pontu 8 husi AUI, neebe regula kompozisaun Komisaun Sunrise, haktuir Komisioner nain rua husi Australia no ida deit husi Timor. Kompozisaun nee sei fo poder politika neebe makaas liu ba Australia duke ba Timor-Leste atu hola desizaun.

  5. Artigu 4, pontu 5 no artigu 11 husi CMATS konaba rezolusaun Ddsputa nee la favoravel ba Timor-Leste. Ita haree tiha ona katak metodu rezolusaun disputa, hanesan Negosiasaun, sempre favoravel ba rai hirak neebe forte liu. Metodu negosiasaun hatalin an ho beran ekonomiku, politiku no militar, maibe nega prinsipiu legal.

  6. Maske S.E. Sr. Mari Alkatiri deklara ona ba publiku katak Planta LNG sei dezenvolve iha rai Timor-Leste laran, maibe CMATS la hatama pontu nee iha laran. Ninian absensia sei fo posibilidade ba Kompania Oleu, hanesan Woodside atu hasees an atu la halo tuir buat nee. Hanesan ita hatene Kompania Woodside, neebe sai hanesan operador iha Greater Sunrise, enkoraja bebeik Governu Australia atu rejeita, karik Planta LNG sei dezenvolve iha rai laran iha Timor-Leste.

  7. Atu hakotu lia, Lao Hamutuk hakarak atu dehan katak Akordu nee prefere fo liu benefisiu ba Australia no estadu seluk tan neebe mak sei sosa mina no gaz; duke interese Timor-Leste neebe hakarak delimitasaun Tasi Ketan.

Rekomendasaun Lao Hamutuk

Bazeia ba ami nian analiza sira iha leten; ami hakarak hatoo ami nian rekomendasaun hanesan tuir mai nee;

  1. Konaba Fronteira Maritima neebe adia too tinan 50 nian laran, Lao Hamutuk hakarak rekomenda ba Parlamentu Nasional Timor-Leste atu haree hikas fali didiak Akordu nee. Ami rekomenda makaas katak Negosiasaun konaba Fronteira Maritima tenki continua nafatin, maski estado rua asina Acordo CMATS. Tamba nee mak ami recomenda atu halo mudanca ruma iha acordo nee, liu-liu iha artigo 3, acordo CMATS.

  2. Bainhira negosiasaun konaba Fronteira Maritima sei kontinua, tenke iha Moratoriu ba estudu viabilidade sira seluk atu hetan no esplora kampu foun sira, too rai rua nee hetan ona Akordu konaba Fronteira Maritima.

  3. Tenke iha modifikasaun ba Artigu 9, pontu 8 husi AUI, konaba Kompozisaun Komisaun Sunrise. Rai rua nee tenke iha numeru neebe hanesan iha kompozisaun Komisaun Sunrise.

  4. Konaba rezolusaun disputa, akordu nee tenke konsidera orgaun rezolusaun disputa seluk sira hanesan Tribunal, ICJ, ka metodu Arbitragem karik iha loron aban bain rua mosu konflitu ruma konaba akordu nee.

  5. Ami rekomenda atu tenke hakerek artigu ruma konaba Planta LNG, atu asegura katak Planta LNG sei beneficio ba Povo Timor-Leste.

Nuudar konkluzaun, Lao Hamutuk atu hateten katak Akordu nee serve liu interese nasional Australia atu asegura ninian lukru husi rezerva mina no gaz iha Greater Sunrise duke ita nian interese nasional konaba delimitasaun Fronteira Maritima.

Tan nee, hodi haree mos ba lian hirak neebe mai husi sosiedade sivil iha Timor-Leste, Australia no rai selseluk tan, ami hakarak ezije ba Parlamentu Nasional, nuudar lian ba hirak neebe lian laek, atu tau iha konsiderasaun buat hirak nee molok ratifika Akordu nee. Ami fiar metin katak Parlamentu Nasional hanesan orgaun soberanu ida neebe mak emar Timor-Leste hili, sei defende emar Timor-Leste ninian interese; laos interese Governu Australia no interese husi kompania minarai sira.

Ami ezije atu diak liu Parlamentu Nasional Timor-Leste haree hikas fali Akordu nee no propoen ba S.E. Sr. Primeiru Ministru Timor-Leste atu renegoseia buat nee ho Governu Australia no halo modifikasaun ruma ba Akordu nee. Ami fiar katak Parlamentu Nasional sei uza didiak direitu neebe konsagradu iha artigu 95 husi Konstituisaun Timor-Leste atu defende interese nasional no ita nian soberania.

Ba ita boot sira nian konsiderasaun sinceru, ami hatoo ami nian kmanek wain.


Guteriano Nicolau Soares Neves no Santina Soares
Responsavel ba Assuntu Recursu Naturais iha Lao Hamutuk