Australia to face Japan over whaling in UN court
The UN's International Court of Justice has set dates for public hearings on Australia's challenge against Japan's whaling programme in Antarctica.
The hearings will start in June in The Hague, in the Netherlands, the court said in a statement on Thursday.
Australia took legal action against Japan over whaling in 2010.
There has been a ban on commercial whaling for 25 years, but Japan catches about 1,000 whales each year for what it calls research.
But critics say it is commercial whaling in another guise.
The Legalities of Whaling
- Objection - A country formally objects to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) moratorium, declaring itself exempt. Example: Norway
- Scientific - A nation issues unilateral "scientific permits"; any IWC member can do this. Example: Japan
- Indigenous (aka Aboriginal subsistence) - IWC grants permits to indigenous groups for subsistence food. Example: Alaskan Inupiat
Australia is requesting the UN court to halt a Japanese whale research programme, which includes hunting in Antarctica using a special permit.
The court is scheduled to hear oral arguments from representatives of both countries from 26 June to 16 July.
New Zealand, supporting Australia, is also expected to make submissions to the court.
"Australia will now have its day in court to establish, once and for all, that Japan's whaling hunt is not for scientific purposes and is against international law," Australia's attorney-general, Mark Dreyfus, said.
"Australia wants this slaughter to end."
Japan for its part said it would argue that its whaling activity was legal.
"Japan will defend its whale hunt as it is within the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling rules, which is the founding document of the IWC [International Whaling Commission]," a Japanese official told the AFP news agency.