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IWC Heroes and Villains

Since the early 1990s accusations have been levelled against the Government of Japan that it was linking its overseas development aid (ODA) to the recruitment of other nation states to support its campaign for a resumption of commercial whaling.

Watching the voting patterns of the various Parties, a neutral observer new to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) would think that the world is equally split between the pro-conservation lobby and those that who are adamantly, and often vocally, committed to the support of commercial whaling. This polarity is often used to either accuse the IWC of being dysfunctional or as an excuse to claim the need to compromise to be able to move the IWC forward.

Japan, in seeking to launch its scientific whaling programme after the adoption of the IWC moratorium in the mid-1980s, also set about ensuring that it could overturn the majority opposition to its whaling within the IWC. This year it is even seeking to modify the moratorium but it relies on the support of its ‘friends’ at IWC.

Japan realised that whilst a three-quarters majority was maybe too difficult to achieve, a simple majority may be within reach. Japan strategy needed to block progressive conservation moves via a simple majority and, it realised, this would allow it to achieve politically supporting statements that would advance its case both within and without the IWC, whenever possible.

Japan, therefore, turned to its overseas development aid (ODA) budget as a new tool in the whaling debate. You can read a detailed discussion of Japan’s vote buying in a previous blog.

The following chart is a snapshot of WDC’s view as to the voting stance of current members of the IWC, and we shall modify as the various states actually vote this year. You can follow the results at Decisions Taken at IWC 2016.

If you come from one of the countries that are supporting the whalers, WDC would ask you to question why your country is adopting such a position? And if you disagree with them supporting the slaughter of whales and dolphins then make sure your government know that you want them to change their position.

To give you a head start, here are some of the heroes