Whaling in the Antarctic (Australia v. Japan)

International Treaties
Marine and Coastal

Whaling in the Antarctic (Australia v. Japan: New Zealand Intervening) (March 31, 2014)
International Court of Justice

Australia, with New Zealand intervening as a non-party, asked the ICJ to adjudge and declare Japan in violation of its obligations under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling and other international agreements in the authorization and implementation of whaling “special permits” in the Southern Ocean.

As summarized in a press release issued by the ICJ: “Taken as a whole, the Court considers that [Japan’s whaling program in the Southern Ocean] involves activities that can broadly be characterized as scientific research, but that ‘the evidence does not establish that the programme’s design and implementation are reasonable in relation to achieving its stated objectives.’ The Court concludes that the special permits granted by Japan for the killing, taking and treating of whales in connection with [its whaling program] are not ‘for purposes of scientific research’ pursuant to Article VIII, paragraph 1, of the Convention.” Page 3.

The result is that Japan must revoke existing authorizations, permits or licenses to kill, take and treat whales relative to JARPA II (the whaling program) and not to grant additional permissions to achieve JARPA II. The Court noted [“i]t is to be expected that Japan will take account of the reasoning and conclusions contained in this Judgment as it evaluates the possibility of granting any future permits under Article VIII, paragraph 1, of the Convention.” Judgment, para. 246.