UN court orders Japan to stop whaling program

BY Ariel Min  March 31, 2014 at 6:37 PM EDT


Japan has been ordered to immediately halt whaling off Antarctica after the United Nations’ International Court of Justice voted on Monday, 12 to 4, against Japan’s JARPA II special permits. The permits grant Japan the right to harvest whales for scientific research.

Japan has killed as many as 3,600 minke whales and issued permits for hunting humpback and fin whales within the Whale Sanctuary since the issuing of the JARPA II permits in 2005, The New York Times reports. The U.N. found that not only does Japan lack significant scientific results from their purported studies, but the evidence suggests that Japan has been exploiting the whales for other reasons. The U.N. has determined that Japan has breached its obligations under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.

“Moreover, the taking of whales, especially in considerable numbers, could be viewed as a form of exploitation of a maritime area even if this occurs according to a programme for scientific research,” the ICJ ruling said.

Video by Associated Press

Australia has been a strong opponent against commercial whaling since the country outlawed it in 1979. Australia sued Japan in 2010, accusing that it had taken advantage of certain loopholes and violated international obligations.

Since the ruling is binding, Japan cannot appeal and would have to immediately freeze its whaling program.

Correspondent Brett Mason for Australia’s SBS News live-tweeted the reactions to the ICJ ruling from The Hague, Netherlands: