Defining Issues in International Environmental Law
Chapter 7: Non-Lethal Utilization and the Irish Proposal
1 INTRODUCTION In 1997 at the 49th meeting of the IWC, the ‘Irish Proposal’ was placed on the table. The essence of the Irish Proposal was a deal that would break the deadlock between those countries that wanted to stop all whaling, and those that wanted to resume pelagic commercial whaling, within the safety of suitable mechanisms operated by the IWC. The core idea of the Irish Proposal was a trade-off, whereby coastal whaling could resume, but the products could not be traded, and the international waters would become a global sanctuary. Despite the good will intended in putting this proposal forward, the issue has become deadlocked, and despite much talk over the last eight years, has refused to budge. In my opinion, one of the key reasons for this deadlock has to do with uncertainty over what one of the key proposals within the Irish Proposal stands for – the proposal not to hunt whales, irrespective of their conservation status – on the high seas. 2 EARLIER ATTEMPTS TO REORIENTATE THE ICRW In the early years, it was possible for the signatories to reach agreement and actually change the convention via a protocol.1 However, as the debates within the IWC quickly began to expand and a number of countries began to withdraw in the late 1950s, it was becoming evident that the convention was not working.2 Similar concern continued3 into the early 1960s as the convention almost broke up, and individual nations began to meet outside of the auspices of the...
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