UN court opens hearings on whaling dispute between Australia and Japan

Judges of the International Court of Justice at the opening on 26 June 2013 of the hearings on Whaling in the Antarctic. UN Photo/ICJ-CIJ

27 June 2013 – The United Nations’ highest court has opened hearings in a case concerning charges by Australia that Japan is using a scientific research programme to mask a commercial whaling venture.

In a news release, the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) announced that hearings began yesterday in the case concerning Whaling in the Antarctic (Australia v. Japan; New Zealand intervening).

The Court says that in May 2010, Australia instituted proceedings alleging that “Japan’s continued pursuit of a large-scale programme of whaling under the Second Phase of its Japanese Whale Research Programme under Special Permit in the Antarctic (‘JARPA II’), is in breach of obligations assumed by Japan under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (‘ICRW’), as well as its other international obligations for the preservation of marine mammals and the marine environment.”

At the end of its application, Australia requested the ICJ to order that Japan: end the research programme, revoke any authorizations, permits or licences allowing the programme’s activities; and provide assurances and guarantees that it will not take any further action under the JARPA II or ‘any similar programme until such programme has been brought into conformity with its obligations under international law.”

According to news reports, Japan counters that its scientific research programme is in accordance with the convention on whaling and that the country is strictly abiding by its treaty obligations.

The proceedings are expected to continue through 16 July. Judgments handed down by the ICJ – often called the “World Court”­– are final and binding on the parties.


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