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article imageJapan v Australia whaling case in The Hague — Watch live

By Elizabeth Batt     Jun 25, 2013 in Environment
The Hague - Beginning tomorrow, Australia and Japan will square off over whaling in the Netherlands. The case will be broadcast live through the International Court of Justice (ICJ) website and available via Video on Demand (VOD).
For Australia, the case has been a long time coming, but the country's government will finally get its day in court. Beginning on Wednesday in The Hague, the Australian government's legal landmark challenge—six years in the making, will ask the ICJ to ban Japan from harpooning whales in the Southern Ocean.
According to the Guardian newspaper, Australia is confident that ICJ judges will order Tokyo to stop its JARPA II research program and revoke Japan's permit to hunt whales in the Southern Ocean.
Commercial whaling was banned in 1986 by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), yet operating under a special permit granted for 'scientific research', Japan continues to hunt around 1,000 whales per year in the Antarctic.
The Australian government and whale conservation groups have long asserted that the license granted to Japan is a form of commercial whaling in disguise. The country says that Japan has killed over 10,000 whales since the commercial ban was first enacted by the IWC.
Australia's attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, who will attend the case in its third and final week, is certain that the ICJ will, "ban the hunts before the next expedition begins at the end of this year."
Japan will defend whaling program 'robustly'
Under the lethal research license, Japan gets to keep and sell the meat of any whales that it processes from the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Despite around 5,000 tonnes of whale meat stockpiled in freezers, the country insists on maintaining its whaling program and continues to push whale meat to Japanese consumers.
Even with consumption of whale meat severely declining and Japan's government facing increasing criticism over the estimated cost of running the program, the country is nevertheless poised to defend its position in The Hague.
According to The West Australian, Japan's Foreign Minister, Fumio Kishida, has promised a robust defense. "Japan will fully engage in the case so the country's position and thinking will be understood," Kishida said.
The Minister also maintained the legality of the hunt, "Japan's research whaling is a scientific endeavour carried out legally under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, article 8," he said.
The case, which will be heard between June 26 and July 16, will be broadcast live and in full on the Court’s website, Icj-cij.org, under the heading "Multimedia." The hearings will subsequently also be available as a recorded webcast (VOD) on the United Nations Web TV website: Webtv.un.org/meetings-events/.
The ICJ is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, composed of 15 judges elected for a nine-year term by the General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations.
Also known as the "World Court," it is the only court of a universal character with general jurisdiction. Its judgments have binding force and are without appeal for the parties concerned.
More about japan versus australia, Whaling, Antiwhaling, research whaling, The Hague
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