IWC65: Paving the way for whale conservation or whale killing?

Japanese delegation at the 64th International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Panama City, Panama. c.IFAW/J.C. BouvierMany people around the world are as unfamiliar with Portoroz, Slovenia as they are with the important international meeting it is about to host. But Portoroz - which sits on the southern tip of the Slovenian Republic and was named for the Italian Portoros (literally “Port of Roses”) - is no stranger to the international convention circuit. 

As recently as 2008, the “6th international Symposium on Pavement Surface Characteristics” was held here featuring sessions on “initial and long-term skid resistance”, “pavement prediction performance models” and “acoustic monitoring of road networks”.

So, as delegates from as many as 90 member nations prepare to migrate to this coastal town for the 65th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) later this month, it seems fair to ask whether the Portoroz IWC meeting will pave the way for whale conservation or whale killing in the 21st Century.

The question isn’t theoretical.

The international community has been working to put the skids on Japanese, Icelandic and Norwegian whaling since the IWC banned the killing of whales for commercial purposes in 1986.

Related: World Court: Japan’s ‘scientific’ whaling is illegal and must end

Thanks to a landmark ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) earlier this year, conservation-minded countries including the United States, Slovenia and the 26 other Member States of the European Union, a strong Latin American bloc and other like-minded nations have the opportunity to cement the decision of the ICJ, also known as the World Court, and help end a century of whaling in the waters around Antarctica.

This March, responding to a legal challenge advanced by the government of Australia, a 16-judge panel at the ICJ issued a strong (12-4) majority ruling that Japan’s so called “scientific” whaling program in Antarctica was illegal and ordered Japan to end it.

After initially insisting it would fully comply with the Court’s judgment and cancelling its slaughter in the Southern Ocean, Japan has now announced it intends to fashion a new research plan and return to killing whales in the name of science around Antarctica next year.

So the Portoroz plenary session, the first meeting of the IWC since the ICJ issued its ruling, is shaping up to be very important. The government of New Zealand has put forward a strong resolution intended to secure the full promise of the ICJ judgment. Concerted efforts by the conservation majority will be needed to ensure its passage and encourage Japan to permanently end its illegal whaling activities in the Southern Hemisphere.


As our IFAW whale team prepares to put the rubber to the road for Portoroz, join us in encouraging your government officials to take action there to preserve and protect whales for future generations

Thank you for your support. 

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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