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 7: Non-Lethal Utilization and the Irish Proposal

Alexander Gillespie


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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