Environmental Protection

The United Nations International Court of Justice ruled against Japan in the case challenging its claim that its whaling is done for scientific purposes.

Australia Wins Case Against Japanese Whaling

The U.N. International Court of Justice ruled against Japan in a case involving charges that the country was using a scientific research program to mask a commercial whaling venture in the Antarctic.

Nine months after opening hearings in the case, the United Nations' highest court, the International Court of Justice, has ruled against Japan in a case involving charges by Australia that the country was using a scientific research program to mask a commercial whaling venture in the Antarctic. The Hague-based court ordered a temporary halt to the country's whaling, which mainly involves fin, humpback, and minke whales, finding that the Japanese Whaling Research Programme under Special Permit in the Antarctic (JARPA II) is "not in accordance with three provisions of the Schedule to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW)."

Australia launched the proceedings in May 2010, alleging Japan was pursuing a large-scale program of whaling under JARPA II and was in breach of its ICRW obligations and other international obligations intended to preserve marine mammals and the marine environment. New Zealand also joined the case against Japan.

Japan rejected the charges and countered that its scientific research program complies with treaty obligations, but 12 of the 16 World Court judges found that the country was violating the three ICRW Schedule provisions. Following Australia's request, the judges ordered that Japan "revoke any extant authorization, permit or license to kill, take or treat whales in relation to JARPA II, and refrain from granting any further permits" for that program. They concluded there are three aspects of JARPA II that cast doubt on Japan's characterization of it as a scientific research program: the open-ended time frame of the program; its limited scientific output to date; and the lack of cooperation between JARPA II and other domestic and international research programs in the Antarctic Ocean.

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