Whaling Diplomacy
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Whaling Diplomacy

Defining Issues in International Environmental Law

Alexander Gillespie

Whaling Diplomacy is the only book that addresses all of the substantive issues relating to the conservation of whales through the International Whaling Commission (IWC). It covers the law, policy, science and philosophy at the heart of each element of the debate, discussing how it has developed, the current problems that beset it and what is necessary for the future. Together, all of the issues involved in whaling form a single crucible through which the future of conservation in international environmental law is being debated.
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Chapter 6: Humane Killing

Alexander Gillespie


1 INTRODUCTION Japan and a number of like-minded countries argue that humane considerations have no place in the IWC. The basis of their argument is that humane considerations are both relative to different countries and invisible in international law. As such, forums such as the IWC should abandon any such discussions in favour of ‘more pressing’ issues before the Commission. When I first heard this argument in Oman at the 50th IWC meeting in 1998, I was taken aback and assumed that a mistake had been made in the presentation of their (and similar) interventions. This was not the case, and over the following years the argument has been reiterated. Unfortunately, it has now been repeated so many times that an increasing number of ‘middle-ground’ countries are beginning to believe it. Accordingly, when a country such as the United Kingdom tried to introduce simple data notation requirements into the revised management scheme for whale vessel inspectors,1 with the inspection and observation regime intersessional meetings, they were directly challenged with assertions that their objective was somehow ultra vires because it was culturally relativistic and without precedent in international law. It is the aim of this chapter to show that the ideal of humane killing is neither culturally relative, nor invisible in international law. As such, it is a very legitimate topic within the IWC. 2 HUMANE KILLING AND THE INTERNATIONAL WHALING COMMISSION In 1960, just after the issue of humane killing had appeared on the IWC agenda, it was noted...

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