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Versaun Tetum

The referenced letter follows below in English and Tetum.

Follow this link to access additional documents, information and analysis on the CMATS treaty.

La’o Hamutuk asks Timor-Leste Parliament to Improve CMATS Treaty

Press release, 14 February 2007

On 14 February 2007, La’o Hamutuk asked the National Parliament of Timor-Leste to give careful thought before ratifying the Treaty on Certain Maritime Arrangements of the Timor Sea (CMATS) with Australia. In an open letter, the research institute provided some analysis and recommendations for Parliament to consider before approving the Treaty.

The CMATS Treaty was signed by the Australian and Timor-Leste Foreign Ministers more than a year ago, after long negotiations. However, both governments delayed sending it to their parliaments for ratification. On 7 February 2007, Canberra’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties has begun an inquiry on the Treaty, and Timor-Leste’s Prime Minister recently stated that Dili’s Parliament will vote on it the week of 19 February.

La’o Hamutuk continues to believe that the Treaty doesn’t address the essential issue, a maritime Boundary between two sovereign nations. The Agreement is intended to enable the development process of the rich oil and gas field Greater Sunrise, but it prevents Timor-Leste from raising the maritime boundary question for 50 years.

Throughout the negotiating process, Australia has refused to discuss maritime boundaries or to allow any impartial legal mechanisms to be used. Under the CMATS Treaty, Timor-Leste would relinquishes its rights to resolve critical questions through third-party processes, the fairest way to settle disputes between two unequal adversaries. According to international legal experts, this may not be legal; a government cannot be bullied into surrendering fundamental rights of a sovereign people.

La’o Hamutuk will continue to advocate on these issues, and plans to also submit information to the Australian parliament.

La’o Hamutuk is a Timor-Leste non-governmental organization also known as the Timor-Leste Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis. It has closely followed petroleum-related issues in Timor-Leste for the past six years, presenting information and analysis to civil society in Timor-Leste and around the world, and advocating for the Timor-Leste and Australian governments to respect Timor-Leste’s sovereign rights and ensure that its people receive their full legal entitlement to oil and gas resources in the new nation’s land and sea territory.

More information and analysis on the CMATS treaty, as well as its text, is available at

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

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: La’o Hamutuk Analysis and Recommendations on the CMATS Treaty

Date: 14 February 2007

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


As you know, the Foreign Ministers of Timor-Leste and Australia signed the Treaty on Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea (CMATS) more than one year ago. Although the Australian Government has not yet sent this treaty to its Parliament for ratification, Timor-Leste’s Parliament will consider it soon. We would like to share some thoughts with you about this treaty, similar to a letter we wrote to you on 9 March 2006, in light of new developments and increased public discussion about these issues.

The Australian Government, working with international oil companies, has illegally occupied the Timor Sea since before 1999. Since the 2002 Timor Sea Treaty, Timor-Leste has given 10% of upstream revenues from the JPDA, and all downstream revenues, to Australia. However, the Australian government continues to expand its ambition to exploit our resources in the Timor Sea, by unilaterally extracting oil and gas from the Buffalo and Laminaria-Corallina oil fields. Just before we restored our independence, Australia withdrew from legal processes for resolving maritime boundary disputes through the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) so that Timor-Leste could not use the rule of law to obtain our boundary rights.

Australia’s actions set the context for both Governments to enter into negotiations over the Timor Sea. Although Timor-Leste has a sovereign right to a maritime boundary, Australia prefers to negotiate only about sharing oil and gas revenues. This went against the demands of the people of both Australia and Timor-Leste, and blocked the completion of our long struggle for independence.

After years of negotiation, both Government signed the CMATS Treaty on 12 January 2006. However, until now, neither Parliament has received the treaty for ratification. Many ideas, perspectives, analysis and opinion have been circulated. We, (La’o Hamutuk Institute), who have closely followed Timor Sea issues since 2001, would like to convey our analysis and some recommendations about the Treaty.

La’o Hamutuk discussed these issues at length in our Bulletin in April 2006. We would be happy to provide you with a copy if you would like it.

La’o Hamutuk Analysis

  1. This Treaty doesn’t 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. La’o 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’s 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-Leste’s Government and civil society agree that our priority should be the Maritime Boundary. But this Treaty violates this principle and extends the occupation.

  3. The Treaty is more favorable to Australia than to Timor-Leste. This Treaty allows Australia to exploit 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 receive revenues from current and potential fields in disputed areas, while Timor-Leste cannot. Timor-Leste will not have a good legal position for 50 years or more, while CMATS is in force, including legalizing Australia’s occupation of Laminaria-Corallina.

  4. Under the terms of the CMATS Treaty, Timor-Leste will receive revenues from about 60% of the known oil and gas under the part of the Timor Sea which should belong to our country under international legal principles. While this is better than the 42% Timor-Leste would have received under the 2002 Timor Sea Treaty and 2003 International Unitization Agreement (IUA) without CMATS, it is much less than we are entitled to. Although all negotiations involve compromise, La’o Hamutuk believes that this compromise is better for Australia than it is for Timor-Leste.

  5. The CMATS Treaty includes most of the 2003 International Unitization Agreement (IUA), which Timor-Leste has not ratified. CMATS would increase Timor-Leste’s share of upstream revenue from 18% to 50%, but Australia will still have 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.

  6. CMATS Articles 4.5 and 11 about dispute resolution are not favorable to Timor-Leste. They do not allow arbitration or a court process to settle disputes but require bilateral negotiation, which unfairly favors the more powerful country. Negotiations are influenced by economic, political and military power, and reject legal principles.

  7. Although Prime Ministers Dr. Mari Alkatiri and Dr. José Ramos-Horta have both told our people that the Sunrise LNG plant will be developed in Timor-Leste, CMATS doesn’t include this point. This omission makes it likely that the oil companies will make this decision, encouraged by the Australian government. We know that Woodside, as Sunrise operator, prefers an LNG plant in Australia to one in Timor-Leste.

La’o Hamutuk’s 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, La’o Hamutuk would like to recommend that the National Parliament of Timor-Leste review this Treaty thoroughly. We strongly recommend that negotiations over Maritime Boundaries should continue while Greater Sunrise is being developed. Because of this, we recommend some changes in this Treaty, especially Article 3.

  2. While negotiations over Maritime Boundaries proceed, there should be a Moratorium on exploration of new fields in disputed areas on Timor-Leste’s side of the median line 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 other mechanisms for conflict resolution such as arbitration, courts and the International Court of Justice. This is the only way to protect Timor-Leste’s interests if Australia twists to meaning of part of the CMATS Treaty to their advantage.

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

In conclusion, La’o Hamutuk believes that this treaty primarily serves the national interests of Australia in guaranteeing their profit from the Greater Sunrise oil and gas field, 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-Leste’s people’s interests, and not those of the Australian Government or oil companies.

We hope that Timor-Leste’s National Parliament will study 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 fulfill your responsibilities under RDTL Constitution Article 95, to defend our national interest and our sovereignty.

La’o Hamutuk would be happy to answer any question or provide testimony or additional information if you would find that helpful.

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


Guteriano Nicolau Soares Neves (+ 670 7235683)
Santina Soares ( + 670 7279574)

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

La’o Hamutuk husu ba Parlementu Timor-Leste atu Hare didi’ak Akordo CMATS

Loron 14 Fevereiro 2007

Kontatu : Guteriano Nicolau Soares Neves and Santina Soares

Iha loron 14 de Fevereiro, 2007, La’o Hamutuk husu ba Parlementu atu tau atensaun didi’ak ba akordo CMATS antis ratifika ho Australia. Iha karta aberta ne’e, Institutu La’o Hamutuk hato’o ninia analiza no rekomendasaun ba Parlementu Nasional atu bele konsidera molok aprova akordo ne’e.

Ministro Negosia Estrangeiro Timor-Leste ho Australia asina akordo CMATS tinan ida liu ba depois de prosesu negosiasaun nebe naruk. Maibe Governo rai rua ne’e seidauk haruka ba sira nia Parlementu atu ratifika. Iha loron 7 de Fevereiro, Canberra’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties comesa ona halo analiza ba tratado ne’e, no Primeiro Ministro Timor-Leste hateten katak Parlementu Nasional Timor-Leste sei vota iha semana ne’e.

La’o Hamutuk fiar nafatin katak akordo ne’e la resolve problema essential rai rua ne’e; mak problema Fronteira Maritima. Tratado ne’e atu hadalan de’it proceso desenvolvementu ba kampo nebe riku mina ho gas, greater Sunrise no satan Timor-Leste atu questiona kona ba fronteira maritima durante tinan 50 .

Liu tiha prosesu negosiasaun, Australia rejeita atu koalia kona ba fronteira maritime ka atu uza mecanismo legal. Baseia ba tratado CMATS, Timor-Leste sei la bele ezizi ninia direitu atu resolve questaun importante ruma liu hosi prosesu involvementu terceiro parte, nebe hanesan dalan nebe justu atu resolve problema nebe mosu entre parte rua ne’e. La’o Hamutuk hanesan organizasaun non-Governmental Timor-Leste mos conhece hanesan Institutu ba monitorizasaun no analiza ba rekonstrusaun Timor-Leste. La’o Hamutuk tuir ona prosesu kona ba assuntu nebe relasiona ho dezenvolvementu petroleum iha Timor-Leste durante tinan nen, apresenta informasaun no analiza ba sosiedade sivil iha Timor-Leste no mundu tomak no husu ba Timor-Leste no Governo Australia atu respeita direitu soberania TIor-leste nian no asegura katak povo Timor-leste bele simu direitu tomak ba rekursu mina no gas iha rai no teritori tasi nasaun foun ne’e nian.

Informasaun no analiza liu tan kona ba tratado CMATS, inklui texto ne’e, bele hetan liu hosi

La’o Hamutuk
Institutu ba Analiza no Monitor ba Rekonstruksaun iha Timor-Leste
1/1a Rua Mozambique, Farol, Dili, Timor-Leste
Tel: +670-3325013 or +670-7234330
Website: www.laohamutuk

S.E. Sr. Francisco “Lu Olo” Guterres,
Presidente do Parlementu Nasional Timor-Leste no membro Parlementu tomak,

Cc: Bankada Partido Fretilin, Bankada Partido Social Democratico, Bankada Partido Democratico, Bankada KOTA, Bankada Partido Nasional Timorense, Bankada Partido Sociales Timorense, Bankada Partido Popular Timorese, Bankada UDT, Bankada Partido Liberal, Bankada Partido Democratico Christiaun, Bankada Partido Christian Democratic Union/Christian Democratic, Media

Subject: Analiza no Rekomendasaun hosi Institut La’o Hamutuk

Data: 14 de Fevereiro, 2007

Senhor Presidente no Membru Parliamentu Nasional sira hotu,


Hanesan ita hatene katak Ministro Negocio Estrangeiro Timor-Leste no Australia asina akordo CMATS tinan ida liu ba. Maski Governo Australia seidauk haruka akordo ne’e ba Parlementu nasional atu ratifika, Parlementu Australia sei sei konsiderea ne’e iha tempo badak. Ami hosi Institutu La’o Hamutuk nebe hakarak fahe ami nia hanoin ruma ba hamutuk ho ita boot sira kona ba akordo ne’e, hanesan karta ida nebe ami hakerek ba ita boot sira iha loron 9, de Marcu tinan 2006, hamutuk no informasaun foun ruma no atu cria liu tan discusaun publico kona ba assuntu ne’e.

Governo Australia, servico Hamutuk ho Kompania Mina internasional sira, halo okupasaun illegal ba Tasi Timor dezde tinan 1999. Liu hosi Akordo Tasi Timor nebe asina iha tinan 2002, Timor-Leste fo ona 10% hosi rendimentu upstream hosi JPDA ba Australia. Maibe, Governo Australia kontinua halo expansaun ba sira nia ambisaun hodi extracta oilo no gas hosi kampo Buffalo no Laminaria-Corraina. Antes Timor-Leste restora ita nia independencia, Autralia sai hosi prosesu legal atu resolve questaun Fronteira Maritima liu hosi UNCLOS no ICJ, atu nune’e Timor-Leste la bele usa lei Irak ne’e atu huso ita nia direitu ba Fronteira Maritima.

Asaun Australia nian ne’e kria contexto ida ba rai rua ne’e atu komesa fali negosiasaun kona ba Tasi Timor. Maski Timor-Leste iha direitu ba Fronteira Maritima, Australia prefere atu negoseia de’it kona ba fahe rendimentu oilu no gas. Ne’e contra ezizensia hosi povo rai rua ne’e, no hapara ita nia luta naruk ba independencia total.

Liu tiha negosiasaun tinan balu, Governo rai rua ne’e asina akordo CMATS iha loron 12 de Janeiro, tinan 2006. Maibe atu agora, Parlementu rai rua ne’e seidauk simu atu ratifica. Ideias bar-barak, perspectiva, analiza no opiniones nebe circula ona iha publiko. Ami, (Institutu La’o Hamutuk) nebe durante ne’e acompaña assuntu Tasi Timor dezde tinan 2001, hakarak hato’o ami nia analia no rekomendasaun ruma kona ba tratado ne’e.

La’o Hamutuk discutí issue ne’e iha Ami nia Bulletin, edisaun April, 2006. Ami kontente tebes atu fornese copia wainhira ita boot sira precisa.

Analiza hosi La’o Hamutuk

  1. Tratado ne’e la resolve problema essential: Problema Fronteira maritime. Tratado ne’e fo liu prioridada atu explita Greater Sunrise (Articlo 2) no fahe rendimentu (Articlo 5). Ne’e contradiz ho ita nia luta naruk ba independencia. Lao Hamutuk hanoin katak debate kona ba Tasi Timor la’os de’it kona reserva oilo no gas, maibe mos kona ba riku soi seluk iha Tasi Timor. Delimitasaun ba Fronteira Maritima anexan continuasaun hosi ita nia luta ba independencia total no sei completa libertasaun ba ita nia Patria hosi Okpasaun rai seluk.

  2. Tratado ne’e legalize no hanaruk tan okupasaun illegal Australia ba Tasi Timor hosi Tinan tolu nulu (Tratado Tasi Timor) to’o tinan limanulu (Tratado CMATS, Artiglo 3). Ami sei fiar nafatin katak Governo Timor-Leste no Sociedade Sivil konkorda katak prioridade ba ita mak Fronteira Maritima. Maibe tratado ne’e viola prinsipu ne’e no hanaruk tan okupasaun.

  3. Tratado ne’e favoravel liu ba Australia do que Timor-Leste. Tratado ne’e fo licensa ba Australia atu halo exploitasaun ba kampo iha Tasi Timor, no sai hosi JPDA no AUI Zuñirse, inkuli Laminaria-Coralina no Buffalo, mos kampo seluk nebe karik bele hetan iha futuru mai (artiglo 4.). Ekonomikamente, akordo ne’e fo Australia oportunidade atu simu rendimentu hosi kampu seluk nebe iha potencia nebe iha area disputada, no Timor-Leste la hetan. Timor-Leste sei la iha pozisaun legal nebe forte durante tinan 50 ou liu tan wainhira akordo CMATS sei aplikavel, inklui legaliza Australia nia okupasaun ba Laminaria-Corallina ho Buffalo.

  4. Iha Termos akordo CMATS, Timor-Leste sei simu quase 60% hosi oilo no gas nebe discover ona nebe iha Tasi Timor no Timor nian, baseia ba prinsipiu internasional. No ne’e di’ak liu do que 42% nebe Timor-Leste hetan liu hosi Tratado Tasi Timor, 2002 no Akordo Unitizasaun Internacional, 2003, sem CmaTS, Ne’e menus liu do que saida mak tenki sai ita nian. Maski negosiasaun Irak ne’e involve mos kompromisu balu, La’o Hamutuk fiar nafatin katak kompromisu Irak ne’e favorece liu Australia do que Timor-Leste.

  5. Tratado CMATS inklui mos Akordo Unitizasaun Internasional, 2003, nebe Timor-Leste la ratifika. CMATS aumenta rendimentu hosi fa’an oilu no gas nian hosi 18% ba 50%, Maite Australia sei iha poder política ba decisaun dezenvolvementu nebe hanesan. Tuir artigo, 9.8 nebe defini kona ba Komisaun Sunrise, Australia iha Komisioner na’in rua no Timor-Leste iha ida de’it. Ho komposisaun hanesan ne’e, Australia iha poder política nebe boot liu compara ho Timor-Leste.

  6. Artiklo 4.5 no 11 nebe kona ba resolusaun desputada, la favorece ba Timor-Leste. Artklo ne’e la fo licensa atu uza metodo arbitraria ou proceso liu hosi Tribunal ruma atu resolve konflitu ruma, Maibe artiklo ne’e reqere metodo negosiasaun bilateral, nebe sei favorece liu ba nasaun nebe bot no forte. Tamba negosiasaun tenki influenca mos hosi fator ekonmia, política no poder militar e rejeita prinsipiu legal.

  7. Maski Primeiro Ministro uluk, Dr. Mari Alkatiri no Primeiro Ministro agora, Dr. Jose Ramos Horta hateten katak sei lori planta LNG mai TL, tratado CMATS la inklui ponto ruma kona ba ne’e. Ida ne’e fo oportunidade ba compañía mina sira atu halo decisaun, e hetan coragem hosi governo Australia. Hanesan Ita hatene katak, Compañía Woodside nebe sai hanesan operador ba Sunrise, prefere atu lori planta LNG ba Australia do que mai Timor-Leste.

Rekomendasaun hosi La’o Hamutuk

Baseia ba ami nia analiza iha leten, ami hakarak hato’o rekomendasaun hirak tuir mai:

  1. Relasiona ba Fronteira maritime nebe hanaruk to tinan 50 ou liu, La’o Hamutuk rekomenda ba Parlementu nasional katak atu halo revisaun ba ne’e. Ami rekomenda nafatin katak negosiasaun kona ba Fronteira Maritima tenki kontinua nafatin, wainhira prosesu dezenvolvementu ba Greater Sunrise la’o dadaun. Tamba ne’e ami rekomenda atu iha mudanza ruma iha akordo ne’e, particularmente ba artiklo 3.

  2. Wainhira negosiasaun kona ba Fronteira Maritima la’o hela, tenki iha Moratorium ba explorasaun kampu foun iha area desputada, nebe tama parte Timor-Leste nian baseia ba linha mediante, to’o rai rua ne’e hetan konkordansia ba Fronteira Maritima.

  3. Artiklo 9.8 hosi Akordo Unitizasaun Internasional nebe koalia kona ba kompizisaun komisaun Sunrise, tenki modifika. Rai rua ne’e tenki iha representante nebe hanesan iha Komisaun Sunrise.

  4. Relasiona ho metodo resolusauun ba desputa, akordo ne’e tenki consider mos mekanismo ruma ba resolusaun konflito hanesan arbitragem, tribuna ka Trubnal Internasional ba Justica. Ne’e hanesan dalan ida atu proteje Timor-Leste nia interese, wainhira Australia hakarak manipula ka interpreta parte ruma hosi akordo ne’e ba sira nia interese.

  5. Ami rekomenda katak tenki aumenta artiklo ruma nebe koalia kona ba futuru hosi Planta LNG Sunrise nian, atu asegura katak planta ne’e sei fo benefisio ba povo Timor-Leste.

Hanesan konluzaun, La’o Hamutuk akordo ne’e serve interese nasional Australia nian atu garanti lukru hosi oilu no gas iha kampo Greater Sunrise do que interese nasional Timor-Leste nian atu determina Fronteira Maritima.

Tamba razaun hirak ne’e, no rona mos hosi lian sosiedade sivil iha Timor-Leste, Australia no rai seluk, ami hakara huso ba Parlementu Nasional hanesan lian ba sira nebe laiha lian, atu tau assuntu hirak ne’e ba considera antes ratifica tratado ne’e. Ami iha konfidensia katak Parlementu Nasional hanesan orgaun soberano no eleito hosi povo Timor-Leste, sei defende interese povo Timor-Leste nian no la’os compañía mina no Governo Australia nia interese.

Ami espera mos katak Parlementu nasional sei estudu tratado ne’e no husu ba parte rua atu hadi’a tratado ne’e atu bele favorece liu Timor-Leste. Ami fiar katak Parlementu Nasional sei uza responsabilidade nebe sublinha iha Konstitusaun RDTL, artiklo 95, atu defende ita nia interese nasional no soberania.

La’o Hamutuk sei kontente tebes atu responde pergunta ruma ka fo tan informasaun ruma se ita boot sira precisa no atu bele ajuda liu tan.

Ba ita boot sira nia konsiderasaun, ami hato’o Obrigado barak.


Guteriano Nicolau Soares Neves and Santina Soares


The Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis (La’o Hamutuk)
Institutu Timor-Leste ba Analiza no Monitor ba Dezenvolvimentu
Rua D. Alberto Ricardo, Bebora, Dili, Timor-Leste
P.O. Box 340, Dili, Timor-Leste
Tel: +670-3321040 or +670-77234330
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