Open Letter to IWC Delegates

Friday, June 18, 2010

Open Letter to the IWC

The Oceanic Preservation Society, on behalf of citizens worldwide, formally entreats all IWC delegates that have engaged in unethical or inappropriate vote bargaining to abstain from voting at the IWC 2010 conference.

At stake is a highly charged decision over whether or not to overturn the world’s ban on commercial whaling. Citizens, advocates and governments worldwide are impassioned in this debate over the fate of the world’s whales – vote trading in this instance is not merely unethical, it is insulting.

IWC delegates from six countries – St. Kitts and Nevis, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Grenada, Republic of Guinea, and Ivory Coast – engaged in negotiations to sell their votes at the upcoming IWC meeting in exchange for aid. An undercover investigation by the London Sunday Times  reveals that these governments were not only willing to accept bribes of financial aid for their countries, but eager to bargain these offers against longstanding kickbacks from the Japanese government to extract a higher price.

Although six countries are formally implicated in the Sunday Times’ investigation, their statements compromise the Pacific Islands, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Antigua, Barbuda, the Grenadines, Tanzania and other African pro-whaling countries in “a vote-buying operation that Tokyo has always denied.”

In exchange for a pro-whaling vote, Japan’s allies admit to receiving cash payments, daily conference spending money up to $1,000 per day, travel and hotel compensation, and call girls, in addition to larger international aid packages.

When it was originally passed in 1986, the moratorium on whaling was seen as a watershed victory for the environmental movement. To this day, it remains a point of pride and victory for advocates everywhere. To see the weight of the IWC’s decisions tossed around like poker chips in a game is an indignity to the IWC and casts serious doubt on the credibility of that organization’s ability to reign in its members and produce sound policy in good faith.

Engaging in such corrupt behavior ought to result in a forfeiture of the right to vote. And nations of disrepute should in good conscious abstain from voting at the IWC 2010 conference. If they do not, it is incumbent on the IWC to enforce the law of ethics, if for no other purpose, than to defend its credibility to the world.