Science and policy in the International Whaling Commission

In M.J.Peterson (ed), Contesting global environmental knowledge, norms and governance. London/New York, Routledge, 2019, pp. 110-125.

Few international organizations have undergone more fundamental changes than has the IWC. It started out as a 'whaling club', accompanied by depletion of the large whales. Gradually a more conservation-oriented policy was adopted. One important reason for this change was improved scientific advice. However, when the IWC was 'hijacked' by the environmental movement, it turned into a protectionist body. Political polarization was strong and little regard was paid to more sophisticated scientific advice as it turned into a battle over values. Under such circumstances the rational input of science is usually marginalized. More recently the IWC has lost its momentum and virtually disappeared from the international political agenda. The most important work is done by the Scientific Committee. The issue of whether commercial whaling should resume or not, is no longer on the forefront of the agenda of the IWC.