The last pretense of Japan's “scientific” whaling has disappeared
Since the oral hearings in Australia’s case against Japan’s “scientific” whaling ended at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) last month, a number of people have asked what happens next.
The three week spectacle of the oral hearings was just a small part of the case which began back in 2010, albeit the most accessible part. For anyone who missed the hearings, all the court documents including transcripts of the hearings can be found on the ICJ’s website, as can videos of each session.
Both Australia and Japan made their cases eloquently and forcefully, and no punches were pulled between two great friends in international diplomacy.
As one observer noted, “Australians should be satisfied that the oral arguments its lawyers offered were considered and thorough”. We should take the time to thank the Australian government for the strength of the case it presented, with painstaking research, measured arguments and incisive questioning.
Looking forward, the fate of whales now rests with the 16 judges who will decide this case. Over the coming months, the decisions they make could have a profound impact on the future of whaling in Antarctica, and more broadly on international environmental law.
Decisions do not come quickly at the ICJ; judgments in previous cases have taken four to nine months. The Australian government hopes for a quick decision ahead of the start of the next whaling season. But whether the internal wheels of the ICJ can turn fast enough remains to be seen; the process is complex (you can read an outline in this excellent article).
One thing is for sure though. The detail with which Australia has revealed the commercial nature of Japan’s whaling, and its failure to meet modern scientific standards or produce any science of value, means any last pretense about the “scientific” nature of Japan’s whaling has disappeared.