National encounters with the International Court of Justice ('ICJ') are not limited to actual proceedings and judgments. Instead, the prospect of bringing a case to the Court is apparent in a wide range of international disputes and situations. Although the influence of the Court is difficult to substantiate without actual cases, this study seeks to uncover evidence of the Court's role in a historic dispute. It examines a dispute between Japan and Australia over pearl fishing during the 1950s. Using archival records, it traces the positions of the parties at different stages and the circumstances that led to the final resolution of the dispute. While proposed proceedings were delayed and finally abandoned, and there is no court record, it is still possible to discern from the parties' positions a dependence upon - and latent encounter with - the Court. This study's findings provide a greater understanding about the role and influence of the ICJ in a broader range of international disputes than is generally available, while also demonstrating the value of historical approaches to public international law.
|Melbourne Journal of International Law
|Published - 2021