Australia launches action against Japan before UN court over whaling dispute

1 June 2010 – Australia has filed suit at the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Japan for allegedly breaching international law regarding whaling, saying its activities cannot be justified on scientific grounds.

The ICJ, also known as the World Court, said in a press release today that Australia formally instituted proceedings yesterday in The Hague, where the tribunal is based.

Australia is alleging that Japan’s pursuit of a large-scale whaling programme – known as JARPA II – breaches the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW), as well as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

The claim states that JARPA II cannot be justified under the ICRW section that grants special permits for countries to kill, take and treat whales for scientific research purposes.

The programme, according to Australia, lacks “any demonstrated relevance for the conservation and management of whale stocks” and presents a risk to targeted species and stocks.

Australia is asking the ICJ to order that Japan stop JARPA II and provide guarantees it will not take further action under the programme or any similar scheme until they comply with international law.

No date has yet been set to hear the case. All decisions of the ICJ, which adjudicates disputes between States, are final and binding.

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