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David @ Tokyo

Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics



IWC 2006: IWC membership hits 69

Lots of action in IWC land this week.

Hot off the press - and you may be reading it here first - 3 new members to the IWC have been confirmed in recent days:

1) Guatemala (May 16)
2) Republic of the Marshall Islands (June 01)
3) Cambodia (June 01)

... still no sign of Israel joining however, despite their announcement that they would join, way back in April.

The Marshall Islands' move to join Guatemala as the newest members was reported yesterday, but Cambodia has not been mentioned to date.

Guatemala has not been approached by the anti-whaling nations to join, thus has likely been encouraged to join by the pro-sustainable use side.

The Marshall Islands has been courted by both sides, but a representative has stated that they are "going to make the decision on our own grounds and our own judgment of how the issues are presented at the commission". This is thus likely another vote for whaling.

Cambodia is set to become the first South East Asian nation to join the IWC, and is thus also likely to vote for sustainable use, rather than unconditional whale protection.

So how does all of this effect the make up of the IWC? Based on analysis of previous voting patterns, and the likely intentions of confirmed new IWC members, we can broadly categorize the 2 camps as follows (note that these are just general categorizations - individual nations may take an independent positions, or abstain, on any given issue put to a vote):

In the pro-sustainable use corner:
From Central America (9)
Guatemala, Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica , Grenada, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent & Grenadines, Nicaragua, Surinam
From Europe (4)
Iceland, Norway, Russia, Denmark
From Oceania (6)
Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Nauru, Palau, Kiribati, Solomon Islands From Asia (5)
Mongolia, China, South Korea, Japan, Cambodia
From the Middle East (1)
From Africa (12)
The Gambia, Benin, Cameroon, Cote d'lvoire, Gabon, Guinea, Senegal, Mauritania, Morocco, Togo, Belize, Mali

Costa Rico, Peru, Kenya (These 3 nations never turn up to vote)

In the anti-whaling corner:
From Asia (1):
From Europe (19):
Finland, Ireland, Italy, Holland, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Monaco, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Spain, UK
From Central America (2):
Mexico, Panama
From South America (3)
Chile, Argentina, Brazil
From Oceania (2)
Australia, New Zealand
From North America (1)
From Africa (1)
South Africa

In summary, by my analysis we are currently looking at:
37 members who are likely to vote in accordance with the principle of sustainable use;
3 nations who will simply fail to turn up to vote;
29 members likely to vote against all forms of whaling.

It's also interesting to look at the breakdown of nations like this. Pro-sustainable use nations are abundant in various parts of the globe, whereas anti-whaling nations are concentrated mainly in European / developed westernized regions - an endangered species perhaps.

Note that it's not guaranteed that all of the nations I have included in each camp will actually show up and vote. India, likely in the anti-whaling camp, failed to show last year, as did 3 new African member nations expected to vote for sustainable use. The weakness for the pro-sustainable use side is that their support comes from poorer developing nations, who may not be able to afford travel to St Kitts for voting.

Nonetheless, even allowing for a mistake or two (for example, Marshall Islands siding with the anti-whalers), the pro-sustainable use bloc will still likely have a slim majority.

This will allow the pro-sustainable use nations to introduce secret ballots for voting, which may potentially see some anti-whaling nations defect. Demarche initiatives earlier this year protesting against Japanese and Norwegian whaling activities only managed to garner support from 17 and 12 nations respectively, so there is a definite degree of sympathy with the pro-sustainable use side. The anti-whaling nations will have to be committed to their cause to be sure that they maintain at least 26% of the votes to bloc any moves to amend the IWC Schedule.

Thinking about what sort of resolutions will now likely be passed:
1) Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd obstruction / terrorist activity in the Antarctic is going to be sharply criticised. This is almost guaranteed.
2) Scientific research programmes conducted by Japan and Iceland are going to be commended, and further research programmes encouraged.
3) I personally would like to see a resolution re-affirming the goals of the ICRW, and requesting that those nations which do not agree with those goals to withdraw their membership. Embarassing anti-whaling nations out of the IWC may be one way to obtain at 75% majority for sustainable use proponents.
4) Other non-member whaling nations such as Canada, Indonesia and the Philippines may be encouraged to join.

Still, there is time left before IWC 58 commences. Israel may still join for the anti-whaling camp, yet further new developing nation members are also likely to join in the pro-sustainable use bloc.


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