Cash payments now not acceptable, IWC governments decide

Posted on 13 July 2011  | 
Jersey, UK – Measures aimed at improving transparency within the International Whaling Commission have been agreed by the body’s member states Wednesday after an intense day of negotiations. The new protocols eliminate the ability of member governments to pay dues in cash at meetings, a practice that has been widely condemned by many Commission members and non-governmental organizations. Allegations of vote buying in previous years have threatened the credibility of the organization and its ability to further the conservation of whales.

The changes, put forward by the UK and 16 other EU countries, require that financial payments to the IWC be made “by bank transfer from an account belonging to the Contracting Government”. This allows the funds to be more easily tracked and processed. The IWC Secretariat has reported difficulties dealing with the large sums of cash it often receives while abroad at the Commission’s annual meetings.

The UK delegation described the resolution as “the bare minimum” level of change needed to modernize the Commission. The changes are intended “to ensure that the Commission’s rules and procedures are kept up to date in line with international good practice,” according to the text.

“Although whales were hardly mentioned in the deliberations, today was a great day for them,” said Wendy Elliott, WWF’s Head of Delegation. “These long overdue reforms help bring the IWC up to date with procedures that are already common in other international bodies. This is a small step in the right direction; it is now time to redirect focus toward conserving cetacean species that are in grave risk.”

WWF now urges the IWC to move forward with addressing the wide range of threats facing whales and other cetacean species, including oil and gas exploration, ship strikes, ocean noise, climate change, marine debris and fisheries bycatch.

Good day for whales, even if they were hardly mentioned during IWC reform negotiations
© © Brian J. Skerry / National Geographic Stock / WWF Enlarge

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