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Whaling Public Forum Topic 27

Whaling Public Forum Topic 27 - WNDI Coyle/Meredith Lab...

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WNDI 1 Coyle/Meredith Lab Whaling ICJ Suit PUBLIC FORUM – WHALING ICJ SUIT
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INTRODUCTION Although Japan is a member of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), who has upheld a moratorium on commercial whaling, it continues to take a certain number of whales based upon an exception in the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (that established the IWC). The question that has been raised by Australia through it's recent suit at the International Court of justice to limit that exception is whether this is truly scientifically necessary or a smokescreen for a violation of international whaling law. Japan claims that it is performing valuable scientific research on whales in the waters around Antarctica. Australia feels science is being used as a pretext to continue harvesting whales for their meat. Over the last thirty years, Australia has opposed commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean on two alternate tracks: one is unilateral, domestically robust, but fraught; the other is international, less certain and more dependent on cooperation. Australia's international track of whale protection has been mostly played out multilaterally in the International Whaling Commission (IWC). While it is a willing and active participant at the International Whaling Convention(IWC), Australia does not always believe the outcome will be to its favor. Before this years IWC meeting in Agadir Morocco, Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs said there is "little cause for hope that our serious commitment to conservation of the world's whales will be reflected in any potential IWC compromise agreement." The proposed compromise plan would have relaxed current restrictions and allowed Japan, Norway, and Iceland to commercially hunt whales for a decade with lower quotas and tighter monitoring that before the present moratorium. This proposal also would have taken care of Australia's main point of contention in its ICJ case by phasing out Japan's use of a "scientific research" loophole, which allows them to kill hundreds of whales in the South Pacific each year. However, because the proposal stirred up strong controversy and both sides were unwilling to compromise, the IWC agreed to suspend a decision until the 2011 meeting. Cooperation has been in short supply in the IWC and it has been unable to reconcile the competing interests of whaling and anti-whaling states. Australia's application eschews any reliance on its Antarctic claim or potential Japanese breaches of obligations arising under the treaties of the ATS. Instead, Australia alleges Japan has breached the International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and customary international law. In this way, the action is entirely about Japanese actions in relation to Japanese obligations.
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