The International Court of Justice (ICJ) announced on 13 February its decision authorising New Zealand to intervene in the proceedings of the legal dispute between Australia and Japan.
The case before the principal judicial organ of the United Nations deals with a wrangle between Australia and Japan, and more specifically with Japan’s continued pursuit of a large-scale program of whaling under the second phase of its Japanese Whale Research Program under Special Permit in the Antarctic (JARPA II).
According to Australia, Japan’s continuous actions are in breach of its obligations under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW), as well as those for the preservation of marine mammals and the marine environment.
For this reason, in its application to the court filed in 2010, Australia requested the ICJ to declare that Japan was in breach of its international obligations in implementing the JARPA II program in the Southern Ocean. Moreover, Australia considers that the ICJ should order that Japan ceases implementation of the programme and revokes any authorisations, permits or licences allowing the activities.
In November last year, it was revealed that New Zealand has filed a declaration of intervention in the proceedings of the case. According to it, ‘[a]s a party to the Convention, [it] has a direct interest in the construction (interpretation) that might be placed upon the Convention by the Court in its decision in these proceedings’.
After declaring the declaration admissible on the basis that the necessary requirements were met and there was no objection raised by the parties to the dispute on its admissibility, the ICJ fixed 4 April as the time-limit for the filing by New Zealand of its written observations and 31 May as the deadline for Australia and Japan to file theirs based on the observations of New Zealand.