The International Court of Justice of the United Nations (ICJ) has ruled that the current Southern Ocean whaling activities conducted by Japan are in breach of the International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling and should therefore be ended. The Court’s ruling did not outlaw the killing of whales for scientific research per se, but it categorically stated that Japan’s whaling programme in the Southern Ocean was not for scientific purposes, and that the number of whales being killed was not justifiable in the name of science. The court went on to say that Japan must stop issuing permits for this whaling.


Dog walking by the ocean - Pauba, Brazil, 2012

Dog walking by the ocean - Pauba, Brazil, 2012

Organisations such as the Humane Society International (HSI) and Greenpeace have welcomed the Court’s ruling in this case, brought against Japan by the Australian government. International NGOs have nevertheless warned that “Japan could still try and find new excuses to continue this cull under another guise”, and so their campaigns are not over yet. Greenpeace said that what is needed is an “end to commercial whaling so we can turn the focus onto some of the big conservation challenges facing the world’s remaining whale populations, like climate change and destructive fishing”.


The ICJ is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN). The Court’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States, and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorised United Nations organs and specialised agencies. It is composed of 15 judges, who are elected to nine-year terms of office by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council.
You can read the full ruling of the Court on the International Court of Justice website.


You can read an article and see a video on the Court ruling and Japan’s response on the Sidney Morning Herald website.


Japan cancels next Antarctic whaling hunt (article on the SBS website)