Australia and New Zealand agree on strategy for whaling legal case

Joint Media release

  • Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, The Hon Kevin Rudd MP
  • New Zealand Minister for Foreign Affairs, The Hon Murray McCully MP

15 December 2010

The New Zealand Government has decided not to file as a party to Australia's legal action in the International Court of Justice against Japanese 'scientific' whaling in the Southern Ocean, but will instead 'intervene' formally in the case, a move welcomed by the Australian Government.

Foreign Ministers Kevin Rudd and Murray McCully say that both countries have agreed to work together towards the elimination of whaling in the Southern Ocean through complementary strategies.

Mr Rudd welcomed the New Zealand decision to intervene in the case as pragmatic, and reflecting Australia's preference.

"New Zealand has once again confirmed that it is a strong partner of Australia in the bid to end 'scientific' whaling and improve whale conservation worldwide," Mr Rudd said.

"By intervening in the case, New Zealand will be able to make both written and oral submissions to the Court that Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean is contrary to its obligations under applicable international conventions to which Australia and New Zealand are also Parties.

"We have kept in close consultation with the Government of New Zealand about how best to progress our shared anti-whaling objectives. We are very pleased with the valuable support New Zealand will lend to this vital case."

Mr McCully said that the Cabinet had this week agreed to his recommendation to intervene in the case but not to file as a party.

"Following the Australian elections I indicated to Mr Rudd that New Zealand was keen to hear Australia's view prior to making a decision on our participation in the case," Mr McCully said.

"Australia has indicated that they would prefer New Zealand not to file as a party. Because New Zealand has a judge on the ICJ, Sir Kenneth Keith, the joining of the two actions would result in Australia losing its entitlement to appoint a judge for the case. New Zealand's decision to intervene will allow the case to proceed without delay.

"With this decision made, we have begun to focus on new diplomatic and communications strategies to try to persuade Japan to end whaling in the Southern Ocean. With this in mind, I have spoken to Japan's Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara to explore the room for further diplomatic initiatives," Mr McCully said.

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