ICJ Meets on International Whaling

By JIM JI
1/22/2017

THE HAGUE - Australia and Japan faced off in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in an interesting development of events which took place with the calling of Australia’s first witness Nick Gales.

As the Chief Scientist of Australia’s Environmental committee on Whaling in the Antarctic region, Gales shed light on the region’s current whaling problems. This knowledge allowed both sides (Prosecutor Australia and Defendant Japan) to delve into the nature of this controversial topic in depth and push the court to a decision.

Rodrigo Argüello and Lillian Royzman led the Australian prosecution. They focused their questions on the core issues of existing programs of JARPA 1 and JARPA 2 and how to resolve them. Primarily, this concerned the failure of Jarpas current purpose in monitoring the antarctic ecosystem due to its inability to track time as well as the infrequency at doing such. Such circumstances have left the programs unable to provide precise data for scientists and were described by Gales as in need of “either revision or closure.”

Daniel Pinckney and Elizabeth Brewer represented the Japanese defense, focusing on the specifics of existing clauses with questions regarding the ambiguity of many of the stances as well as the need for scientific investigation in order to obtain more detailed data. Questioning began with considerations of the credibility of current reports given by the Australian whaling committee that had discredited Japan’s own data, and continued to doubt the reliability of such reports due to the failures of JARPA.

Questions continued on the specifics of two JARPA reports from 1987 and 2014 and it was ruled that both could be considered existing failures in the data collection system even after long periods of research time.

Primarily, questions looked into the nature of scientific hunting with Gales, commenting “it is true that there is that lethal research provides some data that we cannot get through non-lethal research yet,” while adding that “theoretically, the whale abundance is sustainable for a certain amount of lethal research.”

With both sides presenting strong cases, it seems unlikely that the International Court of Justice judges and prosecutors will find it easy to come up with a final ruling within the next few days.