Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Australia and New Zealand Settle Maritime Boundaries: A Model for China and Japan

A treaty demarcating undersea maritime boundaries between Australia and New Zealand came into effect today with pretty much no fanfare. The “Treaty between the Government of Australia and the Government of New Zealand establishing certain Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf Boundaries” was the product of five years of Australia-NZ negotiations. Such negotiations are required by the UN Convention on the Law of The Sea, which sets out general guidelines for the allocation of maritime boundaries, but leaves it to individual countries to negotiate particular boundaries.

As I've noted here before, China and Japan are locked in a much more hotly-contested negotiation over maritime boundaries in the South China Sea. The stakes there appear to be higher because of known underground reserves of natural resources there and the likelihood of a friendly settlement is much lower because, well, let's be honest, there is not a whole lot of love between the two countries.

It is still nice to see how smoothly such negotiations can go. Perhaps the Chinese and Japanese can get Aussie and Kiwi mediators?


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