What ASEAN Must Learn from Timor-Leste: A Tripartite Analysis on Australian Foreign Policy Related to Timor Sea Treaty 2018


  • Indra Kusumawardhana Universitas Pertamina
  • Gustin Saptarani Dewi Universitas Pertamina




ASEAN , Timor Sea Treaty, Australia, Timor-Leste, Timor Gap


The Timor Gap had been a hotspot of territorial dispute between Australia and Timor-Leste. In 2018, Australia finally agreed to settle a permanent maritime boundary in favour of Timor-Leste. Why was Australia willing to sacrifice the border and give a favourable outcome to Timor-Leste? The research examined the importance of the tripartite approach to Foreign Policy analysis to understand why a country may choose seemingly unfavourable options in territorial disputes. The analysis showed how Australian foreign policy was influenced by agency-structure interactions within the international system. The research demonstrated that structural constraints at the international level influenced Australia’s decision, including the South China Sea dispute between ASEAN members and China, previous agreements Australia-Timor-Leste on the management of the Timor Gap, and domestic political dynamics in Australia. The research reveals a relationship between actors’ structural and dispositional dimensions in foreign policy. In the case of Australia, there is a strong link between democratic values ​​and respect for the international rules-based order. Altogether, this situation prompted Australia to continue negotiations with Timor-Leste over the Timor Gap and ultimately to accept an agreement for maritime delimitation in Timor-Leste’s favor.


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Author Biographies

Indra Kusumawardhana, Universitas Pertamina

Lecturer, International Relations, Faculty of Communication and Diplomacy, Universitas Pertamina

Gustin Saptarani Dewi, Universitas Pertamina

Gustin graduated from Universitas Pertamina with Bachelor degree in International Relations.


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