Whales and Humans: How Whaling Went from being a Major Industry to a Leading Environmental Issue then Landed Japan in the International Court of Justice for the First Time
New Zealand Yearbook of International Law [Vol 13, 2015], 107
22 Pages Posted: 11 May 2017
Date Written: 2015
The decision of the International Court of Justice in Whaling in the Antarctic (Australia v Japan: New Zealand intervening) in 2014 focused attention upon the International Whaling Commission and the convention under which it functions. The organization has been troubled since the time of the moratorium on commercial whaling came into force in 1986.
The three countries who still have an interest in commercial whaling are Japan, Norway and Iceland. There have been arguments for years at the Commission about whether for certain species whaling could resume. Japan has engaged in substantial whaling in Antarctic over the years. When it decided in 2005 to increase its catch by granting itself a special permit under Article VIII of the Convention the level of protest from many countries increased. Rancorous meetings of the Commission occurred causing substantial diplomatic efforts being made to bring peace to a troubled organization. Extensive negotiations were held in an attempt to find rapprochement, but these were interrupted by Australia filing its case in the International Court of Justice. This, Japan’s first case before the court, is analysed in the article. The court held that Japan’s program in the Antarctic was in breach of the Convention. Japan paused for a year then went whaling again with a reduced quota. It also withdrew its acceptance of the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice for “any dispute arising out of, concerning, or related to research on, or conservation, management or exploitation of, living, resources of the sea.” At about the same time Japan told the United Nations it was committed to the rule of law and urged more member states to accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the court. These developments are analysed and commented upon in this article, written by New Zealand’s Commissioner to the IWC from 2002 to 2010. It raises questions about the future of the International Whaling Commission and whales.
Keywords: Whaling, International Court of Justice, Japan, Australia, New Zealand
JEL Classification: K00, K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation