The International Whaling Commission: Is Maintaining the Status Quo Good Governance?

By Weeks, Donna | Social Alternatives, Second Quarter 2009 | Go to article overview

The International Whaling Commission: Is Maintaining the Status Quo Good Governance?


Weeks, Donna, Social Alternatives


The annual meetings of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) have become a very public battleground for the hearts and minds of the pro- and anti-whaling nations. Originally a mechanism devised to manage the world's cetacean resources, the IWC presents us with an interesting case study for assessing the crisis in international governance. As the key protagonists demonstrate, the IWC raises important questions about whether or not institutions need to respond to changing norms of international behaviour in order to remain relevant. This article suggests that as long as both sides of the whaling lobby remain inflexible as to the interpretation of the whaling convention, the IWC's role as arbitrator remains limited and alternate mechanisms will need to be considered.

'That great America on the other side of the sphere, Australia, was given to the enlightened world by the whaleman [. . .]

'If that double-bolted land, Japan, is ever to become hospitable, it is the whale-ship alone to whom the credit will be due. . . '

Herman Melville, Chapter 24 The Advocate', MobyDick or, The Whale, 1851.

It comes as something of a surprise to read Herman Melville's famous 1851 novel, Moby-Dick or, the Whale and find reference to Australia and Japan on the same page. In addition to Melville, historian Endo Masako elucidated a long-standing history of whaling between the two nations, dating back to nineteenth century Japan. (Endo 1985; Melville 1992 [1851], 120-1). So when it comes to considering the International Whaling Commission's capacity for governance and dispute resolution in the twenty-first century, it is perhaps ironic that it is Japan and Australia which have come to represent the stand-off between the proand anti-whaling camps, given that the antagonism threatens the very standing of the IWCs governance role. The annual meetings of the IWC are now characterised by emotion-charged debates over the right to consume or not consume whale meat, and the methods by which that meat might be procured. The IWC finds itself as the ultimate arbitrator over cultural and customary issues, a role for which its governing convention seems decidedly unsuited. A walk through its establishment, history and activities to date can illuminate some of the critical questions about global governance that this issue of Social Alternatives aims to address.

The brevity required for this article will inevitably demand some circumvention of detail. There is a growing body of literature and commentary on the 'whaling issue' which explores the intricacies of the legal, political and moral implications of whaling (see the reference list). In large part, the literature leans towards declaring the IWC mostly impotent, an international organisation which has failed to respond to changing international norms. Just how successfully or otherwise the IWC holds to expectations of global governance will depend on whether one takes a legal or political stand. Given the restraints, this article, in the first instance, seeks to elucidate the key components of the International Convention of the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) and related protocols, which govern the IWC. It will then identify some of the contentious issues which have come before the IWC and the manner in which those issues were debated, including membership and voting as well as the cultural and 'emotional' overtones which have challenged the IWCs mission. Finally, the article will assess the relative effectiveness of the IWC in terms of its governance and the implications that this has more broadly for the state of global governance. When so much is at stake, should an institution such as the IWC be 'deterministic' (ie rule in favour of one side over the other) or facilitate meaningful compromise?

For Australians researching Japan, the whaling issue gives one a 'front-row seat' to events as they are played out in two domestic constituencies as well as the international arena. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The International Whaling Commission: Is Maintaining the Status Quo Good Governance?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.