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International Whaling Commission (IWC)


Cambridge, UK



Description: The International Whaling Commission (IWC) is the global body charged with the conservation of whales and the management of whaling.

The IWC currently has 88 member governments from countries all over the world.  All members are signatories to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.  This Convention is the legal framework which established the IWC in 1946. The preamble to the Convention states that its purpose is to provide for the “proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry.”

Organization Type: International Commission (to support an international convention)
Issue areas covered:

The main duty of the IWC is to keep under review and revise as necessary the measures laid down in the Schedule to the Convention which governs the conduct of whaling throughout the world. These measures, among other things, provide for the complete protection of certain species; designate specified areas as whale sanctuaries; set limits on the numbers and size of whales which may be taken; prescribe open and closed seasons and areas for whaling; and prohibit the capture of suckling calves and female whales accompanied by calves. In addition, the Commission encourages, coordinates and funds whale research, publishes the results of scientific research and promotes studies into related matters, such as the humaneness of the killing operations.

Key opportunities and dates for input: 

Commission meetings are now biennial.

Requirements for participation: 

Any non-governmental organization which expresses an interest in matters covered by the Convention may be accredited as an observer.

Advocacy Opportunities:
  • There is already extensive APO advocacy connected to the IWC, and interested animal protection organizations are advised to contact others already working with the IWC for advice.

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