Environment and ‘science’ in the dock at the Hague: the Australian challenge to Japanese whaling

The International Court of Justice concluded oral hearing in the Australia /Japan case on 17 July. At stake is the application of the 1946 International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, in particular its Article VIII, which permits whaling for ‘scientific purposes’. A sensitive issue, judged inter alia by reports from the hearing.

It remains to be seen how far the Court will wade into the merits of the debate: for whatever it holds, is likely seriously to upset either of these nations. Much the more attractive, from the ICJ’s point of view, to find a more or less obscure provision in the Treaty, upon which it can hold with a technicality (I am thinking along the lines of the WTO’s Panel in EC Biotech, where a footnote to an Annex in the SPS Agreement came to the rescue).


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