Australia's views on whaling are well known - we strongly oppose all commercial whaling, including Japan's so-called 'scientific' whaling. The government considers that Japan's whaling is contrary to its international obligations and should stop. That is why, on 31 May 2010, the government initiated legal action against Japan in the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The purpose of the action is to seek to bring an end to Japan's so-called 'scientific' whaling in the Southern Ocean.
Our decision to go to the ICJ is taken in the spirit of one close friend seeking to resolve differences with another in a calm and measured way. Australia and Japan have consistently said that our differences over whaling should not damage the overall bilateral relationship.
Australia filed its written submissions (Memorial) with the ICJ on 9 May 2011. This was in accordance with an Order from the court that was issued after Australia filed its Application Instituting Proceedings on 31 May 2010. The ICJ also ordered that Japan file its written submissions (Counter-Memorial) by 9 March 2012. In accordance with Article 53(2) of the Rules of the Court, Australia's Memorial and Japan's Counter-Memorial will not be made public until the time of the oral hearings in The Hague.
New Zealand filed a 'Declaration of Intervention' in the case on 20 November 2012. On 6 February 2013, the court decided that New Zealand's intervention is admissible. New Zealand filed its written submissions on 4 April 2013. Australia and Japan replied to the court's invitation to respond to New Zealand's submissions on 31 May 2013.
On 11 April 2013, the court announced its decision that oral hearings in the case will run for three weeks, from 26 June until 16 July 2013 at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands), the seat of the court. The oral hearings are the last phase of legal proceedings before the court makes its decision.
The Counsel appearing in the case for Australia were the former Attorney-General, the Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson SC, Mr Henry Burmester AO QC, Professor James Crawford AC SC (the Whewell Professor of International Law at the University of Cambridge), Professor Philippe Sands QC (of the University College London) and Professor Laurence Boisson de Chazournes (of the University of Geneva).
The former Minister for Foreign Affairs has appointed Bill Campbell QC, General Counsel (International Law) in the Attorney-General's Department as Australia's Agent (he is also Counsel in the case), and H.E. Neil Mules (Australia's Ambassador to The Netherlands), as Australia's Co-Agent.
Media briefing papers are available at:
The following information is available on the International Court of Justice website:
- the parties' written submissions
- the documents relating to New Zealand's intervention
- the orders made by the court
- the media releases issued by the court.
Once the hearing has commenced, the transcripts of the oral proceedings for each session will also be included on the above website.