Defining Issues in International Environmental Law
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Chapter 13: Reservations to the ICRW
1 INTRODUCTION In late 2002, Iceland was readmitted as a member of the International Whaling Commission as a signatory to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.1 This readmission followed an acrimonious process in two earlier meetings when Iceland’s attempt to rejoin the IWC was rejected. Its initial attempts were refused by a majority vote by the IWC because of the ‘conditional’ reservation to the schedule which is attached to the ICRW. The second time Iceland was refused membership (the majority of the IWC agreed that the issue had effectively been dealt with at the meeting in the previous year) its representatives left the meeting, refusing to even participate as an observer nation2 and indicated their intention to resume their international trade in whalemeat (following a 14-year hiatus) regardless.3 Iceland did not carry out this threat, as it was victorious in joining the IWC with its third attempt. This success for Iceland occurred because the chair chose not to follow his earlier decision (that is, that the matter had been dealt with earlier because the reservation was the same). Accordingly, with the third attempt, the chair implicitly suggested that the reservation this time was different, and as such, the issue had to be dealt with afresh. Although this was challenged, a series of votes were undertaken, trying to force the chair to lead one way or another (on whether it was a different reservation or not). After an exhausting and confusing process (including Iceland being able to vote on...
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