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International law expert outlines case against Japanese whaling program


Brigid Veale
22 September 2010
A leading Australian legal expert, who has been working since 2005 on legal arguments that challenge Japan’s whaling program in the Southern Ocean, will be giving a free public seminar at Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus on September 29.

Donald Rothwell, Professor of International Law at the ANU College of Law, Australian National University, has been advising the International Fund for Animal Welfare on matters associated with the potential international litigation against Japan over its whaling program. He has an extensive background in international law, focusing on the law of the sea, law of the polar regions and implementation of international law within Australia.

Professor Rothwell’s seminar, hosted by the University’s Marine Ecology Research Centre and the School of Law and Justice, is open to all members of the public, staff and students.

Professor Peter Harrison, director of the Marine Ecology Research Centre, said the University through its whale research group had been a strong and vocal advocate for non-lethal and non-invasive whale research.

“That research has shown that we don’t need to kill whales in order to study them in a meaningful way,” Professor Harrison said.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to hear about the legal aspects of the case.”

In May this year the federal government began formal proceedings against Japan in the International Court of Justice over the ongoing conduct of the JARPAII whaling program in the Southern Ocean.

Professor Rothwell said the claim raised significant international law issues.

“This case seeks to address one of the most contentious issues with respect to the Japanese Southern Ocean whaling program, which is whether it is truly scientific or commercial whaling in disguise,” Professor Rothwell said.

“It could be four to five years before a final judgement is delivered, paving the way for further legal or diplomatic avenues to be pursued by Australia and Japan during this period.

“In particular, Australia may seek an order for provisional measures against Japan in an effort to halt the 2010-2011 Japanese whaling program. Such proceedings may be commenced in coming months. These and related legal and political issues with respect to whaling will be considered in this seminar.”

The seminar will be held from 12.30pm to 2pm on Wednesday, September 29, in U231 at the Lismore campus. For information contact Amanda Simmons in the School of Environmental Science and Management on 6626 9260 or email [email protected]

Photo: Donald Rothwell, Professor of International Law at the ANU College of Law, Australian National University, will be giving a seminar at the Lismore campus.