Sunday, October 20, 2002

The New York Times reports that Iceland has been permitted to rejoin the International Whaling Commission, slightly shifting the balance of power in that body in favour of the pro-whaling nations wishing to end the current moratorium on whale-hunting. (The moratorium is not in immediate danger—a three-fourths majority is required to rescind it.) Here's the thing: the vote to readmit Iceland (who walked out of the IWC ten years ago but has made several efforts to rejoin) was 19-18, & the deciding factor was a last-minute procedural matter raised by Antigua & Barbuda which confused Sweden enough for its delegate to vote "yes" for Iceland accidentally.

Apart from Antigua, five other Caribbean nations are members of the IWC: Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, & St. Vincent & the Grenadines. All are supporters of the pro-whaling faction, led by Japan & Norway. Why? Most of them have no real interest in whaling (St. Vincent is the exception, allowed to kill four humpback whales per year as a form of "aboriginal subsistence". Why not try to attract whale-watching tourists instead?). Essentially these six Caribbean nations are bribed by Japan (via various forms of financial aid) to vote with the pro-whaling bloc. How many more poor Third World nations will the Japanese buy off to get their three-fourths majority? Shouldn't Caribbean citizens find this more than a little distasteful?

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