News & updates

IWMC Opening Statement – IWC 66: The IWC: Providing an Example

It is widely agreed that the International Whaling Commission is dysfunctional.  Such is its dysfunctionality that it holds the distinction of being the only international organization that has undertaken a multi-year adventure to “normalize” its workings – a development that predictability failed. Since then, the IWC has drifted with little purpose, perfunctorily completing its processes in the Scientific Committee while kicking around various other issues. Ultimately, however, it is an organization without purpose, reclining resplendent in a stalemate that sometimes is approvingly referred to as a status quo.

What gets lost among all the pointless bickering is that whale populations are actually doing reasonably well in spite of – or perhaps because of – the IWC’s dysfunctionality. Minke whales are abundant, humpbacks have recovered strongly and whale harvesting presents no threat to the future of any stocks that come under the IWC’s control. The only reason for any concern comes from animal rights groups and their supporters who are obliged to somehow fit square peg data into a mock round peg doom and gloom narrative of falling whaling numbers.

Any normal organization would utilize its plenary to build on the good and develop plans to rectify the bad. Instead, IWC 66 will once again waste time admonishing a research program that is clearly sustainable and well-conceived, debate a so-called “sanctuary” that serves no scientific or conservation purpose, and steadfastly ignore a quota for small type coastal whaling precisely because it lays bare the flimsy arguments against the limited and carefully managed commercial exploitation of abundant whales.

Global problems like starvation, poverty and wildlife trafficking pale by comparison.

IWMC urges all delegates – including those from fellow NGOs – to talk constructively and honestly about the issues at IWC 66. After all, the plenary room will be full of very clever people with impressive academic and professional qualifications.  Could there not be an open discussion about the value of the moratorium?

Perhaps a constructive and calm plenary could provide the platform for the IWC to rediscover its functionality. A functional IWC might even reveal to the world how nations can cooperate effectively on broader wildlife and conservation issues.  Yes, the IWC could, one day, set a positive example for the benefits of international wildlife regulation, instead of being the poster child on its limitations.  Now, that is a sense of purpose that is worth fighting for.

Related content

IWMC World Conservation Trust Opening Statement

VSM/2109/OS/NGO/03 IWMC World Conservation Trust Opening Statement IWMC World Conservation Trust wishes to express its gratitude to the Chair of the Commission and its appreciation

IWC Reform is Long Overdue

We have a major challenge ahead of us here in Brazil. Does the IWC possess the courage and capability to reform itself? Or will it

IWMC Feature

Conservation Influencers

Conservation Influencers is a searchable directory of the animal activist, environmental and ecological lobby. It examines the history, mission, methodology and reputation of NGOs to assess their impact on the global conservation cause.

Franz Weber Foundation

From 1990 until 2015, Franz Weber Foundation (FFW) managed the Fazao-Malfakassa National Park in Togo, which was, according to an in-depth investigation by Duke University, ‘established by forcing the local communities off their land and without taking into consideration their point of view’. That same study cited convincing evidence from reports published in 1990, confirming that competition for land use was already ‘creating conflict between the local communities and park managers’. In 2015 Togo refused to renew FFW’s contract because, the report says, ‘local communities were still excluded from the management of the natural resources of their land’ and FFW had ‘failed to fulfil its contract’. Franz Weber Foundation plays a major role within CITES because it funds and manages from Switzerland the African Elephant Coalition (AEC), which represents 32 African range states, some of which have barely any elephants and others none at all. Contrary to the wishes of the range states in Southern Africa, which manage most of the world’s wild elephant populations, the AEC at CITES’ CoPs repeatedly tables proposals to put all of the world’s elephants in appendix I. And the AEC uses its voting power to keep in place prohibitions on ivory sales and all other trade in elephant-related derivatives, including skins and hair, which Southern African nations wish to legalise.