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Animal Attraction: Justice for Whales Sought in International Court

by Stacy Fox

Posted on June 27, 2013 at 6:07 AM

Oral arguments in Australia’s unprecedented case against Japan’s so-called ‘scientific whaling’ of minke and fin whales in the Antarctic begin in the International Court of Justice, the United Nations court in The Hague.  Humane Society International, which put forward the idea for this case more than 10 years ago, welcomed the start of the hearings, which marks the final legal phase in many years effort to end whales’ suffering. Hearings take place through 16 July.

Kitty Block, vice president of HSI said: “Japan’s whaling subverts international will to protect these animals from commercial slaughter. Whaling under the guise of the scientific exemption to the moratorium is an abuse of rights and a breach of conservation obligations as Japan is a member of the International Whaling Commission.”

Japan takes minke and fin whales in Antarctic waters and also takes whales in another so-called ‘scientific hunt’ in the North Pacific. Japanese whalers have killed more than 10,000 whales in the Southern Ocean since the moratorium on commercial whaling, and 14,000 if whales killed in the Northwest Pacific are included. Japan profits from sales of whale meat, with 2120.9 tons of whale meat distributed for consumption domestically in 2011.


1946 –The International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, a treaty to protect whales, comes into force.

1982 – The ICRW adopts a moratorium on commercial whaling, which doesn’t go into effect until 1986.

1982 – Japan formally objects; therefore it is not bound by the moratorium as is permitted under the Convention.

1987 – Japan withdraws objection but continues whaling, claiming it is allowed under Article VIII of the Convention which allows whaling for scientific purposes. Japan is the only country to engage in whaling by exploiting this loophole.

May 31, 2010 – Australia initiates legal case in the International Court of Justice against Japan’s ‘scientific whaling’ program in the Antarctic.

Nov. 2012 – New Zealand intervenes in the International Court of Justice case.

Humane Society International