Defining Issues in International Environmental Law
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
My interest in whales, like with most New Zealanders, began at a very young age. However, despite an interest in this species my academic work initially took me in different directions within international environmental law. As such, it was only in 1997 that I was first invited to assist the New Zealand delegation at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting for the following year in Oman. Since this time, my interest in the whaling debate and involvement in the discussions at both the IWC and elsewhere has only broadened. In many ways, this book is about these discussions. When I first became involved, I was somewhat befuddled by the spectacle that I saw. In some ways, the international focus on environmental issues had moved on to newer developments – developments which were not even imagined when the IWC became a central focus of international concern in the early 1970s. However, in other ways, the focus on whales is as intense as ever, and the public interest in this debate has not shown any sign of weakening. Trying to understand why this issue retains such a prominent concern in the twenty-first century, despite more than two decades of bitter confrontation between opposing signatories to the convention – and no settlement of differences on so many issues – can only be fathomed when the issues are disentangled. When this is done, it quickly becomes apparent that the whaling debate is very different from many comparable altercations on environmental policy, because it involves so much. It...