Shimonoseki, Japan - 22 May 2002:
Leading conservationist and former Secretary-General of CITES, Eugene Lapointe,
warned today that time is running out for the IWC to find a way of operating as
a credible and meaningful international body.
"What we have witnessed over the past three days in Shimonoseki is a
car stuck in the mud being pushed by more and more people in opposing
directions. It is going nowhere but the hole it is creating is getting deeper.
Sooner or later those pushing will brush off the dirt and move on."
Mr. Lapointe, President of IWMC World Conservation Trust, said that the IWC
needs to quickly take three steps if it is to survive as an international body.
First it needs to manage its meetings in a more desirable manner. The
frustration between the Chairman, delegates, the Scientific Committee and other
officials is obvious and a more constructive structure would help all those
involved to reach reasonable decisions more quickly. The IWC has to have rules
and procedures it can follow.
Second, delegations should reaffirm the principle of sustainable use and the
key role of science as their guides for decision-making. This will mean that
conservative quotas can be managed for commercial whaling, with the IWC
operating as an oversight body rather than as a political institution.
Third, delegates should spend more time considering the human consequences
of their decisions. The whaling communities need to be much more widely
understood before votes are taken that impact the well-being of ordinary people
in different countries.
Mr. Lapointe said: "The IWC has become weak and ineffective for whaling
countries and a political football for non-whalers. If it does not reform, it
will ultimately have to be subsumed by another international body or
reconstituted. The only other possibility is that it will break up into two
separate entities, one a whaling body like the original IWC with around twenty
members, and the other an organization opposed to whaling but with no say in
their actual management."
"It may be too soon to write the IWC’s obituary, but the clock is
ticking. Who knows how much time it has left?"