ICJ renders judgment on whaling dispute between Japan and Australia

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Judges of the International Court of Justice during the sitting held on 31 March 2014 (Delivery of the Court's Judgment). Copyright: UN Photo/CIJ-ICJ/Frank van Beek. Courtesy of the ICJ. All rights reserved.

The United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ordered a temporary halt to Japan's whaling activities in the Antarctic largely involving fin, humpback and minke whales.

In 2010, Australia had filed a suit against Japan for allegedly breaching international law regarding whaling, saying its activities cannot be justified on scientific grounds.

Australia also accused Japan's pursuit of a large-scale whaling programme – known as JARPA II – of breaching "several provisions" of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW).

Twelve judges against 4 found Japan in violation of three ICRW Schedule provisions and ordered the country to "revoke any extant authorization, permit or license to kill, take or treat whales in relation to JARPA II".

The Court also asked Japan to refrain from granting any further permits under the programme.

After a thorough examination, the Court found three additional aspects of the whaling programme which "cast further doubt" on its characterization as a programme for purposes of scientific research.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), based in The Hague, is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.

Its role is to settle legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by UN organs and agencies.

Its judgments have binding force and are without appeal for the parties concerned.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 1’35″

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