Mapping the Future of the International Whaling Commission

Calestous Juma Drafts Report on 'Strengthening Ocean Diplomacy'

by Doug Gavel

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) stands at a crossroads. Some 61 years after its founding, the Commission is rife with dissention as member nations grow more polarized and consensus becomes more difficult.

In an effort to break the stalemate, the Commission has taken several steps to prepare for the 2008 Annual Meeting in Chile. A Steering Committee was formed to examine new ways to build trust among members, and Harvard Kennedy School Professor Calestous Juma was engaged to help plan the March 2008 Intersessional Meeting of the Future of IWC. As part of his planning efforts, Juma drafted a report, “The Future of the International Whaling Commission: Strengthening Ocean Diplomacy,” designed to provide clarity on the many issues facing the international organization.

“The whaling controversy has become a symbol of the challenges associated with the management of natural resources in general and oceans in particular,” Juma writes. “The purpose of [this] document is to provide the IWC with a starting point for negotiating how to shape the future of the organization without prejudging the outcome.”

Juma argues that the problems facing the IWC are an opportunity for it to reposition itself on the world stage.

“Many of the practices and proposals generated by IWC can become authoritative sources of standards that can be adopted by other treaties. The scientific and technical foundations upon which to build this new beginning have already been laid. What is needed now is a diplomatic process that realizes this goal in the shortest time possible. Failure to do so will not only be detrimental for whales, but it will send a sign of despair to the rest of the international community of the state and fate of the world’s oceans,” he writes.

The report is available on the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center website: 
http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/publication/18285/future_of_the_
international_whaling_commission.html

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Image of Calestous Juma

Harvard Kennedy School Professor Calestous Juma

"The scientific and technical foundations upon which to build this new beginning have already been laid. What is needed now is a diplomatic process that realizes this goal in the shortest time possible," Juma writes in the report.