Whale Wars: Is This The End?
On Monday, the International Court of Justice will announce its long-awaited judgment in Whaling in the Antarctic (Australia v. Japan). The judgment (scheduled for 10 a.m. Hague time) comes almost four years after Australia first filed its application way back in May 2010 (here is one of many prior posts where I complained about the length of time this judgment has taken).
This case will be the first time (I believe) that Japan has participated in an ICJ proceeding as a respondent and facing a binding judgment. Both Japan and Australia had no shortage of legal talent on their teams in this case. Australia is claiming that Japan is violating its obligations under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling by using the cover of “scientific research” to actually conduct commercial whaling. Japan disagrees, and my impression is that this will end up being more of a factual than legal determination by the ICJ here, but I haven’t been following the legal arguments very closely.
In any event, it will also be interesting to see how and if Japan complies with the ICJ’s ruling if it loses. I find it hard to imagine that the Japanese government will immediately comply, but it is hard to imagine Japan simply ignoring the judgment either. Since there is evidence the commercial viability of whaling in Japan is collapsing anyway, perhaps this is the excuse the Japanese government needs to end its whaling programs? In any event, if Japan wants to leave open international adjudication as a mechanism for resolving disputes with Korea or China, it needs to be careful in how it reacts to any adverse ruling here.