World Court ruling: it's up to us now


On June 30 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) announced that it had no jurisdiction to decide on Portugal's challenge to the Indonesia-Australia Timor Gap Treaty. This, the court said, was because it could not decide on the nature of Indonesia's control over East Timor when Indonesia was not a party to the Court. At the same time, the judgement re-affirmed the long-standing official position embodied in UN resolutions that the Territory of East Timor remains a non-self-governing territory and its people have the right to self-determination.

According to Jose Ramos Horta, special representative of the National Council of Maubere Resistance (CNRM), inasmuch as the highest UN legal body has endorsed the right of the people of East Timor to self-determination , the court's decision must be seen as a victory.

Hypocrisy exposed

It is clear from this decision that we cannot rely on the established institutions of the system to force change , Max Lane told Green Left Weekly after hearing the decision. The ICJ's reaffirmation of the East Timorese right to self-determination exposes, once again, the Australian government's hypocricy on the issue. But the decision imposes no additional or new cost on the government.

Lane, who is national coordinator of AKSI, an organisation supporting the democratic and liberation movements in both Indonesia and East Timor, was referring to the fact that the court's decision left the Timor Gap treaty itself untouched.

It's clear that the Australian people themselves have to impose this cost. We have to increase the costs. We can't rely on the UN. This means a bigger campaign to draw more people in Australia into action in protests and demonstrations. We have to take the movement for a pro-people foreign policy into the electoral arena to back up our campaigns on the streets and in the unions.


The issue of Australia's policy on East Timor will be one of the focal points of a rally being held in Melbourne on July 7. Speakers will include East Timorese as well as representatives from the Indonesian and Asia-Pacific wide East Timor support movements. Another part of our strategy, said Lane, must be to improve coordination between the East Timorese resistance, the Indonesian democratic movement and the progressive movement in Australia. East Timorese independence is now tied up with being able to beat back the power and influence of both the ALP-Coalition establishment in Australia and the Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia.

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